College football officially returned Thursday and in front of national television audience that no doubt included plenty of NFL scouts, prospects from both the victorious South Carolina Gamecocks and tough-luck UNC Tar Heels served notice that they are players to watch.
A year after three Commodores were selected (including splashy wide receiver Jordan Matthews), Vanderbilt was shut out of the 2015 NFL Draft. Scouts won't want to skip Vanderbilt this fall, however, with emerging seniors Steve Scheu (tight end) and Caleb Azubike (defensive end) worthy prospects.
The Aggies have been a factory for offensive linemen with at least one drafted in the top-25 each of the last three years and redshirt junior Germain Ifedi could potentially stretch that streak to four years in the 2016 class.
With not a single player selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Volunteers broke a 54-year streak of sending prospects to the pros. But with a talented quarterback in junior Joshua Dobbs and a defense stacked with talent, head coach Butch Jones and the Vols appear poised for a resounding comeback this year.
The NFL loves playmakers but scouts will have to think twice about investing a draft pick in UCLA's star, who prior to being arrested on theft charges checked in as the No. 11 cornerback on NFLDraftScout.com's 2017 rankings.
Pharoh Cooper earned All-SEC recognition as both a wide receiver and return specialist in 2014 and could be on the verge of even greater things as a junior. He joins offensive tackle Brandon Shell and South Carolina's top defensive playmaker Skai Moore as South Carolina's NFL prospects to watch this season.