Christian Rector, Edge Defender, USC: Rector has been a wrecking ball for USC all season long. Rector was an unknown commodity coming into the season after red-shirting his freshmen year and seeing limited action last year. Scouts will love his size, his length, and more importantly his production. Rector tallied two more sacks in a strong effort against Utah Saturday night.
Damien Harris, RB, Alabama: All of the hype coming into the season was for Damien’s teammate and fellow RB Bo Scarborough. While Harris splits the carries with Bo and two or three other backs every game, he has become Alabama’s go-to guy. Harris is a good back between the tackles and does a nice job taking the yards that are given to him. Taking a 75 yard carry to the house will help lessen some of the concerns that he doesn’t have the long speed to be an effective all-purpose back in the NFL.
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: Looking for a sleeper Heisman pick? Here he is. Washington added an additional 235 yards to his incredible season for the Cowboys. Much like his QB, Mason Rudolph, it is hard to project how productive Washington can be in a pro-style offense. It is a crowded WR class at the top but Washington has the measurables to justify being included in that conversation.
Iman Marshall, CB, USC: Sam Darnold isn’t the only Trojan that has super-star potential that just can’t seem to put it all together this year consistently. The same could be said of Marshall. Iman just doesn’t seem to be tracking the ball as well as he is capable of. Marshall is a great athlete and has good size. He should still have reasonable expectations that he can be a #1CB in the NFL but he has room to grow. He also has a tendency to get grabby downfield which we know will be called on Sundays.
I See You
Steve Ishmael, WR, SU: There has to be a disclosure here. Scouting any SU WR is always going to be difficult due to the nature of the offensive system they play. The offense does a great job creating mismatches across the field by certain motions, formations, misdirection, etc. With that said it is incredible how often this season Ishmael has gotten open. He has good size and seems as though he has enough speed to make plays in the NFL. He plays very physical at the top of his route and has dependable hands. His performance (6 catches for 73 yards and a score) Friday in the upset win over Clemson was underwhelming, considering his standards at least. It is important to note that Ishmael had two big plays called back on ticky tack offensive pass interference calls. Ishmael is a talented and super-productive WR for the Orange.
Who is The Winner of The Main Event?
Bryce Love vs. Royce Freeman Saturday Film Session Week 7
Both backs did their thing late Saturday night in Stanford in the first half. Let’s start with Bryce Love who is deserving of the Heisman hype that he is getting. Love scored Stanford’s first two touchdowns on the night. On one of them he seemed to have been bottled up around the two or three yardline and just kept spinning his wheels until he found the endzone. His other touchdown run was a vintage highlight run by Love. The play was a power run to the left where Bryce patiently waited for his blocks to connect before turning the corner and accelerating all the way to a 67 yard score. Love, albeit a very small back, does most of his work between the tackles. He has excellent vision, like Warrick Dunn did, and seems to pick the correct hole and hit it and the perfect time more often than not. Of course if he gets through the first level very few people are going to catch him in a foot race at the second level. A concern NFL teams will have is if he is going to be able to stay in on 3rd downs and be able to slow down defensive pressure in the pocket. Let’s hope Love’s injury is minor so he can continue on his historic season.
Someone asked me last week which college RB reminded me most of Kareem Hunt. My answer, which will surprise a lot of people, is no other than Oregon’s Royce Freeman. Freeman runs with very good balance and does a little bit of everything for the Ducks. Will he have the same amount of success during his rookie year as Hunt? That is unlikely although I think if put in the perfect situation, like Hunt was, he could be a very productive back early on his career as well. One of the concerns for Freeman is how his body will hold up over the course of a 16 game NFL schedule as he plays a physical brand. Freeman played with nagging injuries last year and now is working through a shoulder concern this year. Freeman already has 945 yards rushing and nine touchdowns for the Ducks which is pretty impressive considering he only carried the ball for a combined total of 18 times the previous two games. Freeman had an impressive 143 yards rushing against Stanford which is particularly impressive as Oregon presented nothing in terms of a passing attack Saturday night.
I came away impressed with both Love and Freeman’s night. The winner of the night has to be Love, however. He had a ridiculous 115 yards on his first five carries. His two early touchdowns proved enough to win the game on its own. Even after an average second quarter it is impossible to project how many more yards he would have had if he was able to complete the game, especially considering the scoreline.