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Tag:California
Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:49 pm
 

Five seniors I'll be scouting closely Saturday

With three DVD burners running around the clock, I'll be recording nearly every televised college football game throughout the year. There is only so much time in the day, so I have to put some careful thought into picking the games (and more specifically, the prospects) each Saturday in which to scout live.

For most of the football-watching world, this weekend will be all about the NFL. I understand that. I'm as excited as anyone for the rest of the beginning of the opening weekend -- especially after the Saints and Vikings looked a bit rusty on Thursday night.

The NCAA season really amps up this weekend, however, with some of the more exciting matchups of the season scheduled. I'm particularly intrigued by the Ohio State-Miami, Florida State-Oklahoma, Penn State-Alabama matchups. A couple of others that haven't received the national hype they normally would due to the "Big Three" but that I'm verrrry interested to scout include Georgia at South Carolina, Colorado at California, Oregon at Tennessee and Stanford at UCLA.

Each Friday night/Saturday morning throughout the rest of the season I'll put up a similar post as this one. Should you like to scout "alongside" me, follow me on Twitter @ RobRang

These are five senior prospects I'll be watching closely:

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State: Ponder looked every bit the part of a high first round pick last Saturday, completing 14 of 16 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener. That, however, was against Samford. Needless to say, he might find the going a bit tougher in Norman, Saturday. Considering that the Sooners struggled defensively against a weaker opponent (Utah State), themselves, Ponder will certainly have Oklahoma's undivided attention. With a win and a strong performance, Ponder could move into the upper echelon of Heisman contenders. How he handles the noise and pressure of Oklahoma's aggressive defense will go a long way in proving to scouts that he's progressed from the poor decisions that ended his last road game. In that contest, at Clemson last year, Ponder threw four interceptions (he'd thrown only three in his previous eight games) and hurt his shoulder making a tackle of safety DeAndre McDaniel (on an interception return), ending Ponder's 2009 season. 

QB Nathan Enderle, Idaho:
Enderle entered the year as one of the more intriguing senior quarterbacks in the country. Long prior to scouts buzzing about former Vandal Mike Iupati, there were whispers that the Vandals had a legitimate NFL passing prospect. I'm certainly not expecting to see Enderle lead Idaho to an upset of Nebraska in Lincoln, but if the 6-4, 234 pound Enderle is to prove to NFL scouts that he has the moxie and arm strength to handle the pro game, he'll need to show something Saturday. The Cornhuskers are a bit of a step up in competition from last week's opponent, North Dakota. In that game, Enderle completed 24 of 37 passes for 311 yards, two TDs and an INT.

ILB Colin McCarthy, Miami: The great Miami teams of the past all seemingly boasted instinctive, athletic linebackers. In McCarthy, the 'Canes have one of the more intriguing and versatile linebackers in the ACC -- and that is saying something considering the talent in this conference. Wearing the same No. 44 that the legendary Dan Morgan starred with, McCarthy will have to enjoy a strong game against Ohio State if his defense is going to handle this multi-faceted offense. McCarthy doesn't necessarily have to post Morgan-like eye-popping statistics to help his grade in my eyes. He will, however, have to show great instincts and athleticism to contain Terrelle Pryor's running. That, in reality, might be the tougher assignment.

OC/OG Stefen Wisniewksi, Penn State: The play of Heisman-winner Mark Ingram and wideout Julio Jones might have earned many of the headlines, but anyone who watched the Tide throughout last year knows that Nick Saban's bunch won the National Championship based largely on the physicality and depth of their defense. Wisniewksi, the nephew of former Raider great, Steve, will have his hands full with this defensive line. He'll start at right guard, but we currently view his best pro position at center.

OT Nate Solder, Colorado: The Buffs have struggled through some lean years recently, but with Solder, the team boasts its highest rated offensive prospect since tight end Daniel Graham was the 21st overall pick of the 2002 draft (Patriots). Solder, who despite the presence of No. 4 and No. 6 overall picks Trent Williams and Russell Okung, earned First Team All-Big 12 honors from conference coaches last year, is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 senior offensive tackle. The veteran of 29 starts, Solder possesses rare size (6-8, 302) and yet is still quite nimble. He'd be better be Saturday, considering the variety of pass rushers he'll face against California's unique (at least for college) 3-4 scheme. Among those pass rushers is Cal's Cameron Jordan. Their individual battle could be one of the country's best, if most unheralded, of the day.


Posted on: August 5, 2010 4:03 pm
 

Pac-10 film room notes

Over the past few weeks I've posted notes on my impressions of the senior talent in the ACC and SEC. Perenially two of the "power" conferences, I wasn't surprised at all to see that each group boasted a high number of legitimate top 100 senior prospects.

With the exception of Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, the Pac-10, however, appears relatively weak -- at least in terms of senior NFL prospects.

Here are my preseason thoughts based on watching last year's film on every team in the conference.

  • Considering the sanctions levied by the NCAA and the relatively weak senior talent, Lane Kiffin is going to have his hands full at USC attempting to replace Pete Carroll. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley looks like a future first round prospect and, of course, quarterback is the game's most critical position. The difference in talent between USC's second string and some of the other top schools in the Pac-10 (Oregon, for example) had always been an underrated component in the Trojans' success. Sure, USC boasted first round talent at nearly every position on the field at one time or another, but it was their depth at every position that really stood out. When USC sent a Reggie Bush or Sedrick Ellis to the NFL, they had a Joe McKnight or Fili Moala there to pick up the slack. That, however, doesn't appear to be the case this year. One of the more intriguing USC athletes this season who could break out is senior outside linebacker Michael Morgan, a 6-4, 230 pounder with obvious athleticism. Playing time has been tough to come by considering the talent USC had at linebacker, but Morgan, like many of USC's highly rated young talent, flashes on film, but appears to be a better athlete than football player. Let me put it this way -- I'm being asked to write a Pac-10 preview soon. In the article I'll feature the top ten senior prospects in the conference. USC has more of those players than any other school -- but I wouldn't rate any of them (RBs Allen Bradford, CJ Gable, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristopher O'Dowd, Morgan) as a top 50 prospect. Cornerback Shareece Wright may end up the highest drafted senior Trojan -- as he's a talented player -- but he's missed virtually the past two years due to injury and academic suspension. Stanley Havili is my top-rated fullback in the country, but where has USC gone if their top-rated prospect plays fullback...?
  • The face of the conference -- and perhaps the Heisman race -- is clearly Locker. Possessing a combination of arm strength, running ability and guts that have led to comparisons to John Elway, Locker simply needs to continue to develop the intricacies of the position to earn his place as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect. Locker isn't there yet, but he is capable of making the "wow" play that can't be coached. I don't actually expect Locker to win the Heisman. He's got too many things working against him -- not the least of which is a porous offensive line that will be sorely tested against Nebraska in September. But Locker is the conference's best player. And folks, it ain't even close.
  • One of the more underrated prospects in the Pac-10 is California defensive end Cameron Jordan. With Cal playing in the 3-4, Jordan (6-4, 285) didn't rack up the numbers last year (43 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks) to warrant a great deal of national acclaim -- especially considering the attention that his teammate Tyson Alualu earned. Jordan, however, is a good athlete and possesses good strength at the point of attack, which makes him an ideal fit for this scheme. If Jordan played in the Big 12 or SEC, he'd be earning a great deal more attention. In fact, I'd rate Jordan as a very similar prospect to South Carolina's Cliff Matthews, who is earning some All-American hype.
  • There is bound to be a great deal of attention this season on Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews, considering the success of his older brother Clay Jr. with the Green Bay Packers and, of course, the earlier success of father (Clay) and uncle (Bruce Mathews). Unless Casey is able to duplicate the remarkable one-year turnaround of his older brother (who came to USC as a walk-on and turned himself into a first round pick), the lack of attention -- at least from NFL scouts -- may be surprising. Voted a Second-team All-Pac-10 choice last year with 81 tackles, Matthews breaks down well in space, but doesn't fight through blocks well enough yet to play inside and lacks the straight-line speed to beat backs to the edge. Oregon, which has often historically relied on athleticism rather than size and strength on the defensive line, is surprisingly stout up front. Senior defensive lineman Brandon Bair flashed some intriguing pass rush ability given his size (6-6, 268) and the fact that Oregon often lined him up inside, but he's older than most prospects given the fact that he took two years off for an LDS mission prior to playing for the Ducks. 
  • I typically reserve judgement on players until they are at least entering their senior season. However, with all of the attention surrounding the underclassmen quarterbacks I posted some thoughts on Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and thus, here are my thoughts after having time to scout Stanford's Andrew Luck. Some of the areas in which concerned me about Mallett (footwork, ability to read defenses) I found Luck to be surprisingly effective given his lack of experience. He certainly has the arm-strength and accuracy scouts are looking for and he has a terrific coach in Jim Harbaugh. If Luck is able to string together another season like 2009, he is a definite first round prospect and quite possibly competes with Locker, Ponder and Mallett (among others) to be the first passer selected. That said, Luck had the great fortune of playing second fiddle to Toby Gerhart last year. He's an extremely talented player, but don't count me among the shocked if there is a bit of a sophomore slump this season as defenses focus more on stopping the passing game. 
Posted on: April 15, 2010 12:34 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2010 2:08 pm
 

Five mock-busters who could make the 1st Round

In a previous post I mentioned a few players that league sources are characterizing as overrated and could slip out of the first round entirely.

Just as important when predicting what will take place one week from today, however, is identifying players who have earned very little first round hype but could sneak in late.

There are several "bubble" players that could make the first round that I'm not discussing in this post -- Carlos Dunlap, Brian Price, Kareem Jackson, Golden Tate, some QB from Florida... You've seen them in first round mocks before and, perhaps, wouldn't be surprised if their names were called next Thursday.

This post is dedicated to the truer surprise names.

Among the biggest surprises over the past few years? Former East Carolina running back Chris Johnson, former Virginia Tech offensive tackle Duane Brown (both in 2008), former LSU wideout Craig Davis (2007), former NC State defensive tackle John McCargo (2006), former Ole Miss center Chris Spencer and former Fresno State guard Logan Mankins (both 2005).

Chris Johnson and Logan Mankins have since emerged as Pro Bowl talents for the Titans and Patriots, respectively. While Brown (Houston) and Spencer (Seattle) have developed into solid starters, Davis (San Diego) and McCargo (Buffalo) haven't met expectations.

According to scouts and front office executives throughout the league here are five players who could sneak into the 2010 first round and surprise many.

(Players listed alphabetically)

DL Tyson Alualu, California: An established force as a defensive end in the 3-4 and projecting nicely as a 4-3 defensive tackle, Alualu is scheme-versatile and a high-effort player. He lacks the athletic upside of some of the other defensive linemen of this class, but he's viewed as one of the safer players in the draft. The Steelers made a similar selection with Ziggy Hood last year.

RB Jahvid Best, California: Considering his explosiveness, Best should hardly be viewed as a surprise first round pick. However, his durability concerns are enough that most teams feel he'll be available in the second round. Considering the dramatic drop off in explosive running backs after Spiller and Best, however, a team looking for true big play potential from a 2010 rookie running back might have to gamble earlier than they'd like.

OT Vladimir Ducasse, Massachusetts: I expect there to be a run on offensive linemen in the first round similar to the one seen in 2007 -- when a league record eight offensive tackles were taken. If this were to occur, Ducasse, projected by most teams to go anywhere from 35-55, could sneak in late, just as Duane Brown did with the Houston Texans in 2008.

OLB Koa Misi, Utah: Roughly half of the NFL is now planning on operating primarily out of the 3-4 alignment. That fact makes established pass rushers like Misi ones to watch on draft day. Possessing an explosive first step as a defensive end for the Utes, the 6-3, 251 pound Misi impressed scouts in linebacker drills in workouts. Both he and Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds are viewed as locks for the second round, but an early run on the position could push either into the first round.

OLB Daryl Washington, TCU: As deep and talented as the 3-4 rush linebacker class is, there are few highly rated traditional outside linebackers in this class for the 4-3 alignment. Washington played inside for the Horned Frogs, but his 6-2, 230 pound frame makes him an ideal fit on the weakside. The explosive Washington is rated higher on some boards than Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon.

Posted on: November 16, 2009 12:46 pm
 

Even at #14, Stanford remains underrated

Many outside of the Pac-10 might have been surprised by Stanford's back to back wins over Oregon and USC. Those who have been paying attention to Jim Harbaugh's ascending program, however, weren't surprised at all.

Jim Harbaugh has characterized his redshirt freshman quarterback, Andrew Luck, as "the best quarterback in the country" and Luck's performance against the Ducks and Trojans (5 combined TDs, zero turnovers) serve as some evidence that Harbaugh's claim isn't as far off as one might think. The 6-4, 235 pound Luck, in fact, looks every bit the part of a future first round choice.

Unlike many of the past Pac-10 offenses, however, this offense isn't built around the passing game. This is an offense built around a punishing downhill rushing attack forged by Toby Gerhart and a stout offensive line. It is an offense that has scored a combined 106 points against the Ducks and Trojans, not because of gimmick or trickery, but fundmantally sound play up front and a brand of physicality most wouldn't associate with Stanford.

The defense, though rarely given much credit for Stanford's success, has been the very definition of a bend, but don't break unit. The senior-laden unit is stout at the point of attack, protecting a lack of elite athleticism throughout much of the back seven.

At 7-3, the Cardinals remain a game behind Oregon in the Pac-10 standings. They face explosive offenses in their final two games (California, Notre Dame), but with tough games also on the docket for Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona (the other teams contending for the Pac-10 crown), Stanford remains in the Rose Bowl hunt... and I believe this team, on a neutral field, would beat Ohio State.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com