It’s been a long offseason for those of us that love college football and the NFL Draft in particular, but this Saturday marks the return of the college game. Week One is highlighted by an exciting matchup of two top-ten ranked teams: #6 Washington and #9 Auburn. Then, over in the rustbelt, there promises to be a knockout, physical contest between two powerhouses, #14 Michigan and #12 Notre Dame. Check below for the prospects fans should be watching this Saturday and come chat with us about the games in the comments.
Keep your eyes on:
Devin Singletary, running back (Florida Atlantic)
Lane Kiffin’s exile to Florida Atlantic after his tenure at Alabama has been a boon for Devin Singletary. The 5’9”, 200-pound running back is the piston that powers the Owl’s offense. Last season, he finished with 1920 rushing yards, demonstrating his superb balance and deadly jump cuts. He’ll be the focal point against Oklahoma this week, as the Sooners are looking to move on from last year’s dreadful run defense.
Other prospects to watch:
Marquise Copeland, defensive tackle (Cincinnati)
Copeland will be a member of the vaunted 2019 defensive tackle class, although his tape last year wasn’t quite as dominant as most of his more well-known classmates. Undersized at 6’2”, 290 pounds, Copeland’s pass rushing skills are decent, but he really needs to demonstrate an ability to stay low and anchor in the run game. He’ll have a chance to do that this week against UCLA and Chip Kelly, who’s looking to prove he still belongs among the great college football coaches.
Tyree Jackson, quarterback (University at Buffalo)
Jackson had a decent season last year, and he promises to be on the radar for most draft analysts with his outstanding measurables alone. But to truly inflate his draft stock, he needs to show improvement this year. That starts this week against Delaware State. If Jackson’s ability to go through his reads and stay in the pocket has advanced at all from last year, look out.
Jah’Shawn Johnson, safety (Texas Tech)
The longtime leader of the Red Raiders secondary, Johnson will be one of several free safeties vying to be first-round selections. Well-known for his ability to make big plays at key moments, he has a big test in front of him in facing down one of the best receivers in the country, Ole Miss’s AJ Brown. Limiting the damage Brown can do to the Raiders secondary would be a nice feather in Johnson’s cap.
Jaylen Smith, wide receiver (Louisville)
Now that Lamar Jackson is playing for the Baltimore Ravens, Jaylen Smith will be need to prove that he wasn’t just a product of Jackson’s greatness. The senior is big (6-4, 223 pounds), physical, and experienced. If Alabama’s dominant secondary doesn’t rattle him, he should begin to make a case that he is one of the top wideouts in this year’s class.
Trey Adams, offensive tackle (Washington)
In 2017, Trey Adams was one of the best left tackles in college football before a suffering a devastating knee injury in the middle of the season. The hope is that the Adams can come right out of the gate showing no ill effects from his recovery, but a back injury may have him sidelined today. A decent test for him would come this week in the form of Marlon Davidson, a player the Auburn Tigers have been hyping up as their next great pass rusher.
Game of the Week: #14 Michigan at #12 Notre Dame
This game promises to be a defensive slugfest, with the potential for at least some offensive fireworks. Both teams pride themselves on their defensive stars. For Michigan, Rashan Gary could be the best defensive lineman in the nation, while linebacker Devin Bush makes tackles all one the field. For the Fighting Irish, junior corner Julian Love is approaching lockdown status, and senior linebacker Te’von Coney is a complete player in the middle of the defense. Don’t sleep on these offenses, though. Notre Dame has a couple of intriguing wide receivers that could emerge this year in Chase Claypool and Miles Boykin, while Michigan is looking to break in their newly acquired quarterback, Shea Patterson.