Each Saturday I list here five seniors I'll be scouting closely. Prospects in the past I've listed include Washington quarterback Jake Locker, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, San Jose State safety Duke Ihenacho, Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and NFLDraftScout.com's current lead story , Florida center Mike Pouncey, among others.
Players I'm focusing on aren't necessarily the elite prospects, but those who have legitimate NFL hopes, are playing in an intriguing matchup and, of course, are being televised.
For those that would like to scout alongside me today, you can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.
These are the five seniors I'll be keying in on tday (and a brief explanation as to why)...
CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska : In the game I certainly believe to be the biggest matchup of the weekend, Amukamara has the task of controlling Washington quarterback Jake Locker's favorite target, junior wideout Jermaine Kearse. Kearse, the reigning Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week after catching nine passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns last week in a win over Syracuse. If Amukamara, who entered the year rated by NFL scouts as the elite senior prospect in the entire country , can force Locker to look elsewhere, the Huskers will have a great shot at defeating the Huskies in Seattle.
OT DeMarcus Love, Arkansas: Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallett has already generated plenty of Heisman and early NFL draft talk. If he is to continue to earn rave reviews, he'll need a strong effort from his blindside protector, Love, in Arkansas' SEC opener against Georgia, today. The contest is a particularly intriguing one as Georgia enters this game needing a win following last week's loss to South Carolina and presents Arkansas with matchup dilemmas, considering they now use a 3-4 alignment. How Love handles Georgia's speed off the edge will go a long way in scouts eyes of determining whether the second-year starting LT has the athleticism and recognition to remain here in the NFL.
ILB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina: For all of the negativity going on around the North Carolina program right now, some might be surprised to learn that they're actually still playing football. The Tar Heels host Georgia Tech in one of the key conference matchups of the weekend. While his athletically superior Bruce Carter gets most of the headlines, Sturdivant is among the more instinctive linebackers in the country. How he reacts to Georgia Tech's triple option offense will go a long way in determining who wins this ACC showdown.
OT Jonathan Barksdale, LSU: Though the Bulldogs enter this game 1-1, I've been more impressed with them so far in the early season than I have the 2-0 and hosting Tigers. Barksdale will be in charge of protecting LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson against Pernell McPhee, an immediate impact (and all-conference) performer last year for Mississippi State. Barksdale, 6-6 and 320 pounds, played well at right tackle in the past, but with four-year starter Ciron Black attempting to find a niche in the NFL, it will be up to Barksdale to control the left tackle position this year.
CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville: Patrick doesn't get a lot of recognition outside of Conference USA, but he boasts an underrated combination of size (5-11, 190), quick feet and speed (4.47). Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers gets most of the attention, but his older brother, wideout James, broke the school record last year with 2,328 all-purpose yards. Patrick is the Cardinals' most talented and experienced defensive back. He got nicked up last week against Eastern Kentucky, but is expected to play. This should make for an intriguing and nationally underrated showdown between two very good athletes.