We talked about Blankenship’s ability to disguise last season after he earned C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors following a two-interception performance against Tennessee State (see below). After a strong start to the 2019 campaign, the senior defensive back went down to an ankle injury in mid-October. Blankenship enters 2020 with over 200 tackles (233), 15.5 tackles for losses, eight interceptions, 18 passed defensed and two blocked kicks. The former West Limestone HS (Ala.) star has a chance to hear his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft.We break down his diverse, well-rounded game in our video feature.
It didn’t take long for Graham, Jr. to make an impact on Oregon’s campus. The preseason 2020 All-Pac-12 corner has now made 39 consecutive starts due to a combination of agility, football smarts and toughness. We go inside the game of one of college football’s best perimeter defenders in our video spotlight. Heading into 2020, Graham is the active FBS leader in passes defensed (40) and has eight career interceptions.
Lenoir, a former four-star recruit as an athlete coming out of Salesian HS (Calif.), brings a fast aggressive approach to the cornerback spot. Not only does he support the run with an element of pizzazz, he works to disrupt the wide receiver’s release at the line of scrimmage. After making the numerical switch from No. 15 to No. 6 in 2019, the AP second-team All-Pac-12 corner finished with 47 tackles and nine passes defensed. In a conference loaded with solid players on the edges, the senior will look to take the next step in 2020 along with running mate Thomas Graham, Jr.
Auburn senior LB K.J. Britt brings the thunder week-to-week in the SEC. In his first year as a starter, Britt earned All-SEC honors after breaking out as a junior with 10 tackles for loss. We take a quick peek at his game in our video spotlight.
On August 30, 2014, the Florida State Seminoles squared off against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Advocare Classic. The result? A hard-fought 37-31 victory for the top-ranked Seminoles. The game within the game featured two future NFL All-Pros matching up at different positions then they would eventually star at in the NFL. At the time, current Kansas City WR Tyreek Hill was a running back/return specialist and Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey was starring in a safety/nickel back role. In what proved to be a precursor for the future, Hill tallied an incredible total of 278 all-purpose yards. Ramsey contributed 12 tackles and 1/2 tackle for loss, while displaying outstanding agility and body control. We go inside one of college football’s best matchups of the past decade.
Washington’s Elijah Molden takes his footwork as seriously as his father, Alex, did at Oregon before becoming a first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 1996 NFL Draft. Molden is frequently tasked with the tough assignments in the litany of man coverage used by Washington current head coach and former defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake. The former West Lin High School (Ore.) product earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019 after finishing with 79 tackles, four interceptions and 13 pass break-ups.
After two back-to-back seasons thwarted by injury, Winfield, Jr. bounced back to earn the 2019 Big Ten’s Woodson-Tatum Defensive Back of the Year Award. His seven interceptions were the fourth-best total in the nation and led the Big Ten. The former Golden Gopher defender was a big part of the team’s 11-win campaign. He joins a young, athletic secondary in Tampa.
Former Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault, Jr. brings a burly, strong build to the receiver position. In 2018, he cleared the 1,000-yard barrier on 86 receptions. Over the last two seasons, Shenault, Jr. has rushed for seven touchdowns in a variety of ways. Frequently, the team would put him in the Wildcat quarterback position during school. The Jaguars have plenty of options with the native Texan.
The former high school state champion wrestler brings a similar temperament to the football field. Wirfs has started at both tackle spots and earned All-Big Ten honors for the Iowa Hawkeyes as a senior. He contains potential at a minimum of four different offensive line spots but should see time early in his career on the edges.
Hofrichter’s strong leg traveled both inside and outside during his career for the Syracuse Orange. He registered 72 punts of 50 yards or more. The AP third-team All-American allowed just 17 yards on 10 punt returns in 2019. Over the course of his stay in school, he improved as a directional punter.