There were several noteworthy performances on Saturday that deserved recognition. In fact, I changed my mind on this award three times over the course of the day of scouting.
Miami wideout Leonard Hankerson deserves acknowledgement. The 6-3, 215 pound senior caught seven passes for a career-high 145 yards and tied the school record with three touchdown receptions against Clemson. Hankerson beat a tough Tiger defense deep on long scores twice, showing off better vertical speed than some have credited him with in the past. He also used his big body and much-improved hands to snatch a quick slant for his third touchdown. Perhaps the catch that was most important, was a 10-yard reception on third down that allowed the 'Canes to kick an easy field goal midway through the fourth quarter. That score, which extended Miami's lead to nine points, was critical as the Tigers were building momentum. As I noted on Twitter , Leonard Hankerson was a favorite to earn Player of the Week following his performance.
Two other performances later in the day, however, overtook him.
Adrian Clayborn provided the production against the Nittany Lions we've been expecting to see all season long, notching a game-high ten tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack in a key Big Ten showdown. The effort, which earned Clayborn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades, was a resounding bounceback for Clayborn as his numbers previous to this game have been rather pedestrian (15 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss). Most opponents have elected to double-team Clayborn. Penn State did, as well, on multiple occasions. When they didn't -- and often when they did -- he made them pay.
Following Clayborn's effort, I was convinced he'd be my choice as Player of the Week. A "legendary" performance, however, changed my mind.
Considering the horrific game he'd had against Nebraska two weeks ago, Washington quarterback Jake Locker needed a strong performance against USC to right the ship. Locker certainly delivered, leading the Huskies to a comeback win that was eerily similar to the one he engineered last year to upset the Trojans in Seattle. Locker wasn't perfect on the night. He lost a fumble that went through the back of the end zone for a USC touchback and, again, missed some wide open receivers. However, he completed 24 of 40 passes for 310 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another 110 yards in the game and made the big plays when the Huskies desperately needed them. His best play made have been an 18-yard completion to WR D'Andre Goodwin on 4th and 10 in the closing seconds that put UW in position to kick the winning field goal. On the play, Locker stepped up in the pocket, considered scrambling for, saw Goodwin clear the defender and fired a strike. It is this type of poise and accuracy in the clutch that scouts have been waiting to see from Locker. Husky coach Steve Sarkisian, in fact, characterized Locker's effort Saturday night as "legendary."