For a year hyped to be “the year of the quarterback,” the play of the “top prospects” at the position has left much to be desired. Sam Darnold has struggled with turnovers, Josh Allen completion percentage has been hovering around 55% all season, and Josh Rosen is has been battling injuries as of late. This past Saturday though, all three managed to put together decent games along with a host of other quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, and Mason Rudolph. Perhaps the tide has begun to turn for this quarterback class. Below are prospects that stood out in Week 11 of college football and chose to get hot at just the right time.
Sam Darnold, quarterback (USC)
Darnold put forth his best game of the season against an impressive Colorado secondary on Saturday. He was making NFL throws into tight windows throughout the game. His touchdown pass to Deontay Burnett in particular was a thing of beauty; he delivered to the receiver where only he could make the catch, all with a defender in his face. Most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over, which has been his kryptonite this season. He even showed off his athleticism when he called his own number on a nice 24-yard touchdown run.
Damien Harris, running back (Alabama)
Most will point to Calvin Ridley’s contributions in the passing game as the reason why Alabama was able to survive against Mississippi State, but the contributions of Damien Harris, who ran for 93 yards and a touchdown on only 8 carries, were just as significant. Harris is atypical for an Alabama running back in that he’s a between-the-tackles runner but also has the speed and quickness to break big gains. His touchdown run to tie the game in the fourth quarter was a demonstration of his ability to maintain speed while shaking tackles left and right.
Austin Golson, left tackle (Auburn)
I’ve talked about Golson’s fellow lineman Braden Smith before and while Smith largely powers the Auburn run game, Golson is the Swiss army knife of the offensive line. Against Georgia on Saturday, Golson lined up as a left tackle, right tackle, and right guard. This constant switching created favorable blocking match-ups and directly lead to some long runs by Kerryon Johnson. While his movement skills are decent, he needs more anchor strength, as he was walked backward towards the quarterback by a bull rush a few times.
Cam Serigne, tight end (Wake Forest)
Serigne is a receiving tight end and touchdown specialist for the Demon Deacons. At 6’3”, 240 lbs, his speed appears to be elite and his route running is very advanced for a big man. He was uncoverable against Syracuse, easily finding the holes in Syracuse’s zone coverages and eventually finished with 7 catches for 119 yards and three touchdowns on the day. His catch radius and athleticism was clearly evident on one particular, badly overthrown pass in the third quarter that he nonetheless managed to pull in.
Austin Bryant, defensive end (Clemson)
Often the forgotten man on arguably the best defensive line in the country, Bryant gets by thanks to his speed off the edge and his hustle. Even when well blocked initially he’s quick enough to come back for a second attempt. That tenacity was on display against Florida State when he appeared to be stymied on an inside rush, but stayed with it and brought the QB down for a sack on third down. He finished the day with that sack, a tackle-for-loss, a pass defended, and a hurry.
DJ Reed, cornerback (Kansas State)
West Virginia sports a very productive offense but Kansas State was able to at least slow them down thanks to Reed, who forced a fumble, tallied an interception, and provided solid coverage all day on the back end. His interception was a great individual effort, completely ripping the ball away from accomplished receiver David Sills. He also made some decent runs on special teams, recording four punt returns for 99 yards.