Week 12 of college football was termed “Cupcake Week” by members of the media because the only game against two ranked opponents was No. 24 Michigan versus No. 5 Wisconsin. Many games served as tune-ups before the conference championships. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise however, as prospects from smaller schools like Western Kentucky, UCLA, and Buffalo were able to get some time in the spotlight. Below are seven prospects that had a good week, including three surprising defensive backs that have started to make their move up the draft board.
Anthony Johnson, wide receiver (University at Buffalo)
One of the most prolific receivers in college football plays for the UB Bulls. This week he had seven catches for 153 yards and four touchdowns against a poor team in Ball State. UB likes to move the 6’2” receiver around the formation, put him out wide and in the slot, and Johnson’s ability in the open field is enough to make it work. He appears to have a pretty good NFL future and if he decides to come out, he’ll need to have a good all-star game or, if he can’t snag an invitation, a good pro day.
Mike White, quarterback (Western Kentucky)
In a triple overtime thriller versus Middle Tennessee, White threw for 485 yards and 5 touchdowns. On the way to that total, White completed the longest play in the FBS this season, a 93-yard bomb to his receiver Lucky Jackson. White works in a hurry-up spread attack and displayed some good accuracy while going through is progressions. His eye work was particularly impressive this game. One issue he had though was his tenancy to drifts to his left in the pocket, which lead to him getting some unnecessary pressure.
Kolton Miller, left tackle (UCLA)
A finesse tackle who uses his hands very well and is exceedingly light on his feet. UCLA got him in front of a couple screens and his straight line speed popped off the tape. The Junior wasn’t matched up against Uchenna Nwosu, USC best pass rusher, very much, but the couple times he did have to face Nwosu he was able to keep Josh Rosen clean thanks to his light feet in pass protection.
Jaire Alexander, cornerback (Louisville)
Alexander has spent 2017 battling injuries and had yet to record an interception this season after coming up with five the year before. It took all of two minutes in the Cardinals game against Syracuse before collecting a toe-tapping interception. It was a great play by the cornerback, refusing to bite on a deep route and simply stepping in front of the receiver streaking up the sideline. Steve Ishmael has put up monster numbers this year and Alexander held him to twi catch for 29 yards. Syracuse being forced start a backup quarterback helped but Alexander did his job.
Nick Chubb, running back (Georgia)
Nick Chubb, along with Sony Michel, are a dynamic one-two punch for the Georgia Bulldogs. While Michel had his moments against Kentucky, it was Chubb who kept the chains moving and managed to break off a couple big runs. Chubb was tough for the defense to bring down all day and flashed some surprising explosiveness with his jump cuts. He finished the game with 15 rushes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
Nick Nelson, cornerback (Wisconsin)
Another week, another Wisconsin defender stands out. Nelson is a primarily man-cover corner who leads the nation in passes defensed. Against Michigan he added another two passes defended, including a key break up in the red zone, and also added a bizarre punt return for a TD. Former Buffalo Bills safety Jim Leonard has been coaching these Wisconsin defenders up.
Chris Hawkins, safety (USC)
I mentioned in my weekly preview article that UCLA likes to utilize tight ends in the passing game and that it was up to linebacker Cameron Smith to hold up in coverage. Hawkins though was the one who kept the tight ends in check. He didn’t break up any passes but the senior’s sure-tackling limited any decent gains, finishing with a team-leading 10 tackles. He also brought pressure on blitzes, finishing with a sack and a jarring tackle-for-loss on a quick pass by Rosen.