A penchant for scheduling patty-cake games during the first week of the college football season usually leaves fans disappointed during their Labor Day vacation, but there were at least a few games worth watching this past Saturday. Auburn-Washington and Notre Dame-Michigan may have been low-scoring slugfests, but they were close, right down to the final whistle. Here are the college prospects that stood out on the long weekend.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR (Stanford)
Dominant. Arcega-Whiteside toyed with the San Diego State secondary on Friday, finishing with six catches for an eye-watering 226 yards and 3 touchdowns. Adept at using his 6’3”, 225 pound frame to box-out defenders, what was more impressive was his subtle breaks on certain routes. It may be to early to say this, but the senior wideout looks like the spitting image of Mike Evans.
Steven Montez, QB (Colorado)
A dark horse quarterback prospect, Montez has a largely efficient and effective night against a poor Colorado State defense. Montez was surgical in going 22-of-25, for 338 yards and 4 touchdowns. His first touchdown pass was a thing of beauty: launching a perfect deep shot between the cornerback and the single-high safety. Despite the one blemish of a foolish interception thrown into double-coverage, Montez was on point all night.
Rodney Anderson, RB (Oklahoma)
Mr. Anderson staked his claim to being the best running back in the country against an overmatched Florida Atlantic defense. The junior running back only had 5 rush attempts all day, but ran for 100 yards and 2 TDs. That’s a 20-yard average. Although somewhat tall, Anderson really knows how to bend his knees and sink his hips to present a smaller target for defenders, and his long speed appears to be better than adequate. He’ll be one to track all season.
Dontavius Russell, DT (Auburn)
What a day for the four-year starter at defensive tackle for the Tigers. Russell is largely overshadowed by fellow lineman Derrick Brown. Against the Huskies though, it was Russell making the game-changing plays. The senior’s 6’3”, 320 pound frame was too much for Washington’s guards to handle in the run game. Then, on Washington’s final offensive play of the day, Russell attacked the outside shoulder of the guard, burst through the line, pressured Jake Browning and recovered the quarterback’s fumble.
Deionte Thompson, Safety (Alabama)
Another in a long line of standout Crimson Tide defensive backs, Thompson introduced himself to the nation against Louisville. His interception in the second quarter showed off his soft hands as well as his ability to cover sideline to sideline. The junior also showed that he’s not afraid to pop pads against the run either, even though he’s a bit light at 196 pounds. We now know his name.
Te’von Coney, Linebacker (Notre Dame)
The Notre Dame-Michigan game became a defensive struggle in the second half, a struggle the Irish won thanks to some key plays by their senior middle linebacker. An A-gap blitz by the Coney caused an interception late in the third quarter, short-circuiting a Michigan drive. Then, on the final play, Coney recovered a Shea Patterson fumble, icing the game. Oh, and he also led the Irish defense with 10 tackles.