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Tag:Aaron Henry
Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:24 am
 

Six New Year's Day* matchups to watch

Due to New Year's Day falling on a Sunday this year all of the traditional bowl games played on this day were moved to Monday. For football enthusiasts it just means an extension of an already dramatic college football season.

Whether you are a hardcore fan preparing yourself to watch every second you can of the six games on tap today or just want to have a handy Who-To-Watch guide for the few minutes you get to sneak away from your job to check the game, I've got you covered with one head to head matchup NFL scouts will be watching.

Here they are:

TicketCity Bowl

Penn State DT Devon Still vs. Houston C Chris Thompson: The 6-4, 310 pound Still currently ranks No. 8 on NFLDraftScout.com's 2012 board for all prospects. Opposing him is Houston's Thompson, a 6-2, 285 pound technician who we rank as a likely free agent (rated No. 38 amongst centers). Don't think that the Cougars won't have a plan for Still and the rest of a talented Penn State defensive line. The beauty of Houston's spread offense is that it gets the ball out of Case Keenum's hands so quickly that often bigger, more athletic pass rushers are limited in what role they can have. Couple that with the fact that Thompson is a wily veteran who earned his second consecutive All-Conference USA honors this season (last year he won it playing guard) and we have an interesting matchup to start off the day.

Capital One Bowl

Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard vs. South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery: Scouts circled this one in red ink, and Jeffery should do the same. He's against the clock to prove he's not overhyped in an offense that caters to his natural skills. Jeffery, a junior, has a 6-inch and nearly 25-pound advantage on the Nebraska senior cornerback. Dennard's late-season push to work back into first-round conversation would get an exclamation point if he muzzles the gifted but undisciplined Jeffery.

Outback Bowl

Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy vs. Georgia C Ben Jones: There may not be a defensive tackle in the country blessed with a more impressive combination of burst off the snap and strength than Michigan State's junior defensive tackle. Playing in the SEC, however, has prepared Jones for just this type of matchup. While the All-SEC center may lack Worthy's power and athleticism, the senior is tough-minded, technically sound and a legitimate top 75 pro prospect, in his own right. If nothing makes you happier during the holidays than a good old fashioned battle in the trenches, this is the showdown to watch.

Gator Bowl

Florida DT Jaye Howard vs. Ohio State C Mike Brewster: Just like in the Outback Bowl, I expect the television analysts to focus on matchups between the skill position players in the Gator Bowl but winner of the Gator Bowl will likely be the team that gets more from their senior in the middle. Howard is quietly among the better, all-around senior defensive tackles and is being viewed by some 3-4 clubs as a possible conversion to defensive end. Brewster isn't flashy but is a tough guy who always competes and is starting his 49th consecutive game. Each is listed by NFLDraftScout.com as potential mid round picks.

Rose Bowl

Wisconsin FS Aaron Henry vs. Oregon RB LaMichael James: The key to stopping the "Quack Attack" is the same as it is with most offenses: take away the running game. Without a dominant front line, the Badgers will have to demonstrate extraordinary discipline in the back half of their defense. Fortunately, they boast a terrific all-around defender in Henry, a former cornerback who has earned all-conference honors after each of his two seasons at free safety. Scouts, of course are even more familiar with James as he's led the country in rushing yards the past two years. If James is to leave Oregon after this season as those close to the program expect, notching yet another 20-plus carry game (he has seven this year) against a traditionally stout defense could help convince scouts the 5-9, 195-pound back has the toughness to be successful in the NFL.

Fiesta Bowl

Oklahoma State FS Markelle Martin vs. Stanford TE Coby Fleener: If there is a safety in the country with as many responsibilities looming as Wisconsin's Henry, it is Martin. At 6-1, 198 pounds Martin doesn't have the bulk scouts generally prefer, but his coverage skills and penchant for the big play have made him NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior at the position. It will be those coverage skills that are put to the test against Andrew Luck and his favorite target, the 6-6, 245-pound Fleener. With little speed on the flanks, Stanford's passing game attacks the field down the middle. As such, the winner of this one on one battle could very well determine the Fiesta Bowl champion.



Posted on: September 1, 2011 4:05 pm
 

Who to watch tonight in Wisc/UNLV

The beginning of the college football season is finally upon us with 14 games taking place this evening. The most intriguing matchup from a scouting perspective happens to be the one on television, as Wisconsin hosts UNLV.

UNLV doesn't feature a great deal of prospects, but Wisconsin is loaded.

The Rebels' top prospect is senior receiver Phillip Payne, a standout for UNLV since the local prep star signed with the team four years ago. The 6-3, 207 pounder doesn't possess elite speed (estimated at 4.60), but has a knack for the big play. He enters his senior season within reach of the school's career touchdown receiving record (24) with 19 scores. A broken foot during the summer limited Payne throughout the fall camp so he may be a little rusty. If he can make a big play or two against a talented Wisconsin defense, however, he'll certainly earn some respect from pro scouts on hand or watching on television. Payne is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 37 rated receiver and viewed as a possible 6th-7th round pick.

Wisconsin has a talented receiver of their own in senior Nick Toon, Jr. The son of the former New York Jet great, Junior hasn't yet played with the consistency teams are looking for. However, he does possess very good athleticism for a 6-2, 220 pounder. Toon will be anxious to put his injury-marred junior season behind him and now has a quarterback in NC State-transfer Russell Wilson with the deep ball to flourish.

Wilson, at approximately 5-11 and 210 pounds, lacks the size scouts are looking for. As mentioned, he does possess plenty of arm strength and flashes good accuracy to all levels of the field. He's a terrific athlete for the position and can elude defenders when pressured. With a strong senior season, some team will give him a shot late or in free agency.

The Badgers routinely churn out top quality offensive linemen and this year is no different. The top senior is right guard Kevin Zeitler, who is now the Badgers' most experienced offensive lineman with Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt now playing for the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. 

The two players who used to play around him are actually the two prospects I'm most interested in scouting this evening. Redshirt junior Peter Konz is the best looking center prospect I've seen on tape this summer. Listed at 6-5, 315 pounds, he has a rare combination of size and agility for the position. Of course, he was flanked by Zeitler and Moffitt last year, so it will be interesting to see how Konz performs with more defenders focusing on him, rather than his peers -- especially with Zeitler missing significant time during the fall due to a sprained ankle.

Zeitler used to be flanked by right tackle Ricky Wagner, but the 6-6, 320 pound behemoth is flipping over to the left side now that Carimi is gone. Wagner has good athleticism to handle the move, though he might be moved right back to the strongside in the NFL. He has a tendency to come off the ball too high, which negates his strength, but uses his hands well to turn and control his opponent. He is a patient, technically sound pass blocker, who is surprisingly light on his feet. Wagner hasn't received the attention of Matt Kalil, Jonathan Martin or Riley Reiff... yet.

Though the Badgers lost a star in defensive end JJ Watt to the Houston Texans, one could make the argument that cornerback-turned-safety Aaron Henry was nearly as critical to the Badgers' success last season. In his first  year at the position, Henry led the Badgers with three defensive touchdowns, scoring two on interception returns and another on blocked kick. I like the coverage skills he brings to the table and feel he can emerge as one of safety prospects of this senior class with a little more seasoning.

The game begins at 8 pm Eastern and will be televised by ESPN.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com