Assuming everyone is healthy, we picked five prospects (click pictures for write-ups) to keep an eye on in tomorrow night’s Florida State versus Miami (Fla.) contest in Week 4 of the 2020 college football season. One of the potential key matchups could be between Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and Miami (Fla.) offensive guard D.J. Scaife, Jr. It is a battle that could get grimy between the two talented linemen. In addition, there is a big challenge for FSU safety Hamsah Nasirildeen -if available- versus Hurricanes tight end/H-back Brevin Jordan.
First-year Louisville Cardinals (8-5) head coach Scott Satterfield led the team to a 38-28 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the 2019 Franklin American Music City Bowl. Despite moving on prior to last year’s New Orleans Bowl as head coach of the Appalachian State Mountaineers, Satterfield has now led teams to four consecutive bowl victories. Led by redshirt sophomore signal-caller Micale Cunningham’s Music City Bowl MVP performance (350 total yards, 2 TDs), the Cardinals amassed over 500 yards (510) of total offense.
Micale Cunningham QB Louisville
Louisville's Micale Cunningham rushed for 81 yards on 16 carries as he consistently kept linebackers like Mississippi State's Tim Washington (No. 41 pictured) in constant pursuit. In addition, Cunningham threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore phenom finished 2019 with 22 touchdown passes and five interceptions.
Scott Satterfield holding up the 2019 Music City Bowl trophy
Scott Satterfield continues to win bowl games at a frenetic pace. The Music City Bowl victory marked his fourth bowl game in the last four games he's coached in (didn't coach in the 2018 New Orleans Bowl for Appalachian State). His continued rise has coincided with a Louisville program that could be headed on the way back up the ladder in the ACC.
Clemson sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence accounted for 366 total yards and three touchdowns in leading the Tigers back from a 16-point deficit to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes 29-23 in the 2019 Playstation Fiesta Bowl. The game MVP got a lot of assistance from ACC Offensive Player of the Year Travis Etienne, who chipped in with 150 all-purpose yards and three scores in the comeback effort.
Iowa’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette took his second kickoff return of the season to the house and scored touchdowns three different ways in the team’s 49-24 victory over the USC Trojans in the 2019 SDCCU Holiday Bowl. Along with Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP A.J. Epenesa’s 2.5 quarterback sacks, the Hawkeyes went on a 21-0 run to end the contest.
6 Smith-Marsette BEST SHOT of him spinning vs USC KO coverage
Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette (No. 6 seen spinning on USC's Isaiah Pola-Mao) finished fifth nationally in kickoff returns this past season (29.6 yd/avg, 2 TDs). His 2019 Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP performance featured three touchdowns (KR, REC, RUSH) and nearly a fourth on a near touchdown pass.
94 Epenesa uses outside arm-over after pull-through maneuver
It was Epenesa's superior technique, however, that ultimately proved to be the difference in the much-anticipated matchup between the two all-conference performers. On this repetition, Epenesa uses an outside arm over and pull-through maneuver to cross Jackson's feet.
74 Wirfs bends back 26 Mauga
The Iowa Hawkeyes also have two offensive tackle prospects that will be playing on Sundays. Right tackle Tristan Wirfs' (No. 74 seen pictured blocking USC sophomore linebacker Kana'i Mauga, No. 26 pictured) power was evident for much of the night. He was effective pulling in space and displayed agility on outside reach blocks in their variety of offensive run schemes.
Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz won his sixth consecutive bowl game for the Bulldogs and did so in dominating fashion. His Bulldogs shutout the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes 14-0 in what turned out to be a dominating defensive performance. The Hurricanes managed just 74 yards on the ground and accounted for 227 yards overall. Walk-On’s Independence Bowl Defensive MVP Connor Taylor had nine tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
55 Quarterman gets off block to fill vs 33 Henderson
Miami (Fla.) LB Shaquille Quarterman (No. 55 pictured) may be the Hurricanes' most consistent leader. While many of his teammates sat out the game to prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft, Quarterman -who led the team in tackles (107) and ranked second in tackles for loss (15.5) - tallied 11 tackles in his final career game. Despite his efforts, Louisiana Tech junior running back Justin Henderson (No. 33 pictured) finished with 95 yards on 22 carries. Henderson (1,062 rushing yards, 16 total TDs in 2019) earned 2019 Independence Bowl Offensive MVP honors.
5 Sam THROWS 2 Osborn out of the club
With Louisiana Tech All-American CB Amik Robertson sitting out the bowl game to prepare for the draft, senior corner Michael Sam (No. 5 pictured) was out to send a message early in the game. This physical tackle on Miami (Fla.) senior wide receiver K.J. Osborn (No. 2 pictured) set a tone. Sam had 46 tackles, three interceptions and seven pass break-ups in 2019.
15 Rousseau gets off of 77 Stallworth to inside hip
Miami (Fla.) freshman defensive end Gregory Rousseau (No. 15 pictured) had a size challenge versus Louisiana Tech senior OT Gewhite Stallworth (6'8, 320). Rousseau's slippery nature proved to be tough for Stallworth at times. Rousseau is draft-eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft and this season proved to be a breakout. He finished with 54 tackles, 15.5 quarterback sacks (second nationally), 19.5 tackles for losses (seventh nationally), two forced fumbles and one pass break-up.
Washington head coach Chris Petersen ended his career with a resounding 38-7 victory over his former team, the Boise State Broncos, in the 2019 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl. Junior quarterback Jacob Eason passed for 210 yards and one touchdown while fellow junior running back Salvon Ahmed added two rushing scores. Junior defensive back Elijah Molden took home game MVP honors with nine tackles, one forced fumble and a 31-yard interception return.
26 Ahmed RUNNING to his right again 5
Despite rushing for just 20 yards, Washington running back Salvon Ahmed (No. 26 pictured) scored two touchdowns in the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl. He went over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in 2019 and finished his career with 21 rushing touchdowns. Ahmed -who recently declared for the 2020 NFL Draft- will be one of the fastest running backs available in this year's draft class.
Jimmy Lake new HC Washington with Chris Petersen former HC Boise State BEST SHOT 2
Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake celebrates the Las Vegas Bowl championship with retiring coach Chris Petersen. Petersen finished 55-26 during his tenure with the Huskies and 147-38 overall (Boise State, Washington).
For years, the safety tandem of Jovante Moffatt (6’0, 210, Sr.) and Reed Blankenship (6’1, 196, Jr.) has reigned terror on Conference USA football. Last Saturday’s contest against Marshall only served to further the pair’s growing reputation nationally. Blankenship registered six tackles in a solid performance while Moffatt tallied 14 tackles, a pass break-up and two timely athletic interceptions. We go inside the strengths of each player.
C-USA Defensive Players of the Week (9-9-19, 10-7-19)
7 Moffatt S Middle Tennessee 2
Moffatt displayed a lot of the necessary NFL characteristics during his C-USA Defensive Player of the Week performance against Marshall last Saturday. He first baited Marshall quarterback Isaiah Green by hanging on the near hash to the short field as a deep post one-third safety. Moffatt leapt over cornerback Gregory Grate to snag the skinny post in mid-air. Later in the game, he picked off an out route by Green when aligned as an underneath zone defender. He displayed his hand-eye coordination by plucking the ball on his inside-out break to the sidelines while reading the eyes of the quarterback. It was a defining performance for the senior after shoulder injuries forced him to miss most of what was shaping up to be a defining 2018 campaign (appeared in just four games).
12 Blankenship catches the ball
Blankenship, pictured, was a multi-dimensional athlete at West Limestone HS (Ala.). During his time at the prep level, he rushed for over 3,000 yards (3,192), passed for over 1,000 yards (1,056) and also posted over 1,000 yards receiving (1,004). In the process, he accounted for 46 touchdowns.
7 Moffatt and 12 Blankenship again (1)
Middle Tennessee defensive coordinator Scott Shafer puts a lot on the plates of the fellow team captains. As opposed to playing either from solely a stationary strong or free safety role, the pair is interchangeable. They align in the deep middle one-third post, as eighth men in the box, curl-flat defenders, and even come off the edge as pass rushers. The disguises they coordinate prior to the snap of the ball can fool quarterbacks on a week-to-week basis.
12 Blankenship making the TKL MAGAZINE
Blankenship -who was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week after a two-interception performance against Tennessee State earlier this year (9-5-19)- is an aggressive tackler. He put some impressive hits on his resume' coming downhill with vengeance in earlier 2019 contests versus both Iowa and Michigan. In his career, he has accounted for 215 tackles, two quarterback sacks and 15 tackles for losses.
7 Moffatt S Middle Tennessee stretching
Moffatt's flexibility is adequate but he can be late to adjust his angles on occasion. In the move area as a man-to-man defender, he has the occasional tendency to open his hips to turn-and-run a tick too late. He makes up for it with adequate balance and a solid weave backpedal. He learned a lot from former Blue Raiders safety and current Tennessee Titans All-Pro safety Kevin Byard. As Moffatt put it, "KB was here a lot and it helped me a lot." Some of his other favorite NFL safeties include Pro Bowlers Malcolm Jenkins (Philadelphia Eagles) and Micah Hyde (Buffalo Bills).
Perhaps the receiver with the most expectations this season on the Alabama football roster is junior All-American Jerry Jeudy. However, the one player who continues to prove capable of ascending his game through the season’s first three weeks is fellow junior DeVonta Smith.
When he first came out of Amite High School (La.), Smith weighed in the 157-pound range. While he has put on some pounds to add to his slender frame, he still hovers around the 175-pound mark. Surprisingly, it is his penchant for going across the middle of the field that draws high marks. But when asked about whether or not his heart starts to beat a little bit faster when going across the middle with linebackers and safeties coming across at him prior to the team’s 2018 contest versus Ole Miss by AL.com, Smith had the perfect response.
“No. Not at all,” Smith responded matter of factly.
The greatest thrill of his career up until this point may be his game-winning touchdown catch in the 2018 College Football Playoff national championship game against Georgia. In an offense that often utilizes four or five wide receivers/tight ends, the opportunities are limited. It is a fact not lost upon Smith.
“No matter who it is, which one of us gets it we can all make the same play,” Smith told AL.com back in 2018. “When a play is called, you never know whether you’re going to get it or not. You just wait for the quarterback to throw it.”
Smith vs. South Carolina, 9-13-19: In-game report
2 LeCounte III wrapping up 6 Smith and 44 Taylor coming downhill again 45
Despite improved bulk from his prep level days, Smith's strength is still a bit of a question mark. In Saturday's game against South Carolina (9-14-19), Gamecocks CB Jaycee Horn raked a ball out of his hands on a slant route that resulted in a pass deflection. Although he contains a deft drop-step speed release, defensive backs do lean their frames on him at times on his inside releases versus press-man.
2 LeCounte III wraps up 6 Smith on the edge one-on-one again
Last Saturday's contest against South Carolina flashed Smith's slippery skills after the catch. On a couple of his receptions, he used one-step cuts to get initial room from CB Jaycee Horn. Then, on a quick post/slant concept in the third quarter (9:42 mark), he used a slick sidestep to elude South Carolina safety J.T. Ibe in the middle of the field. The result? A 42-yard touchdown reception.
6 Smith makes a snatch catch on the perimeter as corner cat, 2 LeCounte III breaking the ball again
Smith's ball skills and arm length (pictured here versus Georgia DB Richard LeCounte in the 2018 SEC championship game) both stand out. On Saturday in Columbia, however, his eight-catch, 136-yard, two-touchdown day may have hidden his best catch of the afternoon. At the 13:20 mark of the second quarter, he made one of his textbook leaping grabs over the top of South Carolina CB Israel Mukuamu, who stands 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. It was an example of the talent Smith possesses when adjusting to the ball in the air.
Most locksmiths specialize in rekeying, repairing, opening and modifying. Some numbers have meaning in the process, while others do not. It fits perfectly with what Smith communicated to AL.com when asked about whether he had accumulated the most receptions on the squad through Week 2 of the 2018 campaign.
“I don’t keep up with stats.”
Betiku’s activity last Saturday versus UConn was noteworthy, but should have been expected after his Week 1 performance against Akron. The graduate transfer from USC dealt with offseason hip surgery in 2018 but has responded favorably since coming to Champaign. While his snap count reactions vary, he displays very good play strength. From either a right-handed or left-handed stance (RDE or LDE), he works to press his inside shoulder versus the offensive tackle’s high shoulder to press the pocket over the top. Many of his sacks thus far in 2019 have come from him finishing through the down. In a defense that has been effective running line games, his activity winning on spikes (stunts that attack the inside shoulder of offensive linemen) has been noteworthy through two weeks. He currently leads the nation in quarterback sacks (6) and tackles for losses (7.5).
79 Lowe rests his right elbow on his right knee prior to snap, 47 Betiku left-handed stance (1)
From either a right-handed or left-handed stance (RDE or LDE), he (No. 47 pictured at the top of the screen) works to press his inside shoulder versus the offensive tackle’s high shoulder to press the pocket over the top. Many of his sacks thus far in 2019 have come from him finishing through the down.
79 Lowe mirrors 47 Betiku, who loses his vision (1)
In this pregame repetition prior to the UConn game on September, 7, 2019, Betiku is matched against Illinois 6-foot-6, 320-pound left tackle Vederian Lowe (No. 79 pictured). Due to Lowe's bulk and width, Betiku's feet do not point in a direction towards the quarterback. This causes him to get pushed up the field initially. Despite containing definitive play strength, bigger offensive tackles can sometimes engulf and shield him from the action on his up-and-under rip moves.
47 Betiku uses dip-and-rip move to reach the top shoulder of 79 Lowe (1)
This photo represents how the upward movement of his rip move allows him to circle over the top of Lowe (No. 79 pictured). In addition, his activity winning on spikes (stunts that attack the inside shoulder of offensive linemen) has been noteworthy through two weeks. He currently leads the nation in quarterback sacks and tackles for losses.
Today, we go inside our lenses with Washington senior wide receiver Aaron Fuller. Fuller -who caught five passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday versus Eastern Washington- continues to impress with his high-flying antics.
2 Fuller in the pregame
Fuller began his 2019 campaign with five receptions for 73 yards and two touchdowns versus Eastern Washington. His one-handed twisting catch while keeping one foot inbounds made most of the highlights around the country from Week 1. In 2018, Fuller caught a career-high 58 passes for 874 yards (15.1 YPR) and four touchdowns.
2 Fuller can catch the ball over his left shoulder
The team frequently put Fuller at the No. 2 slot receiver position to run fade patterns in 2018. His ability to adjust to the ball over either shoulder is one of the big reasons he's been employed on the concepts. As a prep level track and field athlete at Lucas Lovejoy HS (Tex.), Fuller ran 22.0 in the 200 meters and nearly went 22-feet in the long jump (21'10.5").
2 Fuller running with the ball on quick screen copy
The team uses him on a number of wide receiver screens to get the ball in his hands. On this one-step screen versus UCLA in 2018 Fuller made several Bruins miss on his way to a 19-yard gain. He has not, however, stood out as a punt returner while in school.
2 Fuller DROPS crossing route
Although Fuller dropped this crossing route in the fourth quarter of the UCLA contest in October 2018, he has shown relatively reliable hands throughout his career. On several crossing routes (see video from Colorado '18 below), he has flashed the skill to snatch the ball while running at high speeds.
2 Fuller High-flying Husky 2
Fuller (No. 2 pictured timing this 46-yard reception vs UCLA's Nate Meadors in 2018) exhibits requisite timing and body control to adjust to passes on the field. New Huskies quarterback Jacob Eason seems to have already found a comfort level giving Fuller chances on 50-50 passes.
Photography by: Corey Chavous, DraftNasty Magazine