It’s that time of the college football season when unexpected playmakers and prospects start to emerge for their teams. These can be more upperclassmen that weren’t expected to play as well as they are, or underclassmen finally getting a chance to contribute, run around and show what they can do. The six players below spent their Saturday getting their names out and being noticed.
QB Khalil Tate (Arizona)
It was a complete game for Tate, who was able to dice up Colordo’s secondary to the tune of 404 yards passing as well as 23 yards rushing on four attempts. His best throw of the season came when he held tight in the pocket and blasted a 75-yard pass down the sideline. This kid has a live arm. Tate isn’t considered to be in the highest rung of prospects at his position, but there’s reason to believe he can have a Tyrod Taylor-type impact in the pros if someone decides to give him a chance.
LB Micah Parsons (Penn State)
On paper, Purdue sports one of the more explosive offenses in FBS but, despite that, Penn State held the Boilermakers to only seven points. Parsons was a huge part in that outcome, helping to shut down the run while racking up a sack and two tackles for a loss. Although he’s only a sophomore, the enforcer looks like another great linebacker to come out of the Penn State program.
S Geno Stone (Iowa)
Stone is one of those players who, despite being an average athlete with average size, just keeps making plays. That certainly held true in Iowa’s loss against Michigan. A well-disciplined player, Stone had several sure tackles on various Wolverines ball carriers, as well as an interception and a key pass break up in the fourth quarter while matched up with a wide receiver. Iowa didn’t get the win, but the junior safety has our attention.
EDGE Kwity Paye (Michigan)
On the other side of the field from Stone was Paye, who had the unenviable task of going against the best tackles in the country, play after play. The junior defensive end didn’t let that intimidate him, however. He had four tackles, including two for-a-loss and two sacks, while adding two quarterback hurries. When he wasn’t able to beat Alaric Jackson or Tristan Wirfs cleanly, he was hustling his butt off to make the play. He probably would have had even more impact if he didn’t leave the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury.
RB Rodney Smith (Minnesota)
Good running backs seem to be coming out of the woodwork this college season, and Smith is certainly an example of this phenomenon. It was a rainy slop-fest against Illinois so the Gophers turned to Smith to get things going. He responded by running for a career-best 211 yards and a touchdown. His nasty jump cut and balance were both shown on his 64-yard run early in the second quarter.
WR Aaron Fuller (Washington)
Fuller is a guy I’ve had mentally tagged in the back of my mind as a potential breakout candidate ever since his sophomore campaign. That breakout performance finally occurred against Stanford. Despite the talented Cardinal secondary, Fuller had nine catch for 171 yards on the day—a 19-yard average per catch. The speedy Fuller was getting open thanks to more than just his speed, as his longest catch of the day was on a slick double-move that could have gone for a touchdown had the throw been better.