Week 9 of the college football season was almost a complete chalk slate, with the consensus game of the week between No. 8 Oregon dominating No. 13 Utah 35-6. That game was never close with Oregon boasting a different caliber of offense compared to what the Utes can currently run out at the moment.
Eighteenth-ranked Louisville peppered a very banged up No. 20 Duke team with a winning score of 23-0 in favor of the Cardinals. Duke quarterback Riley Leonard played, but he simply doesn’t look right at the moment with his lower body injury still lingering. Star left tackle Graham Barton didn’t play in the game for the Blue Devils.
The big upset of the day came when Oklahoma traveled to Lawrence to face Kansas in what became the game of the day in the college football world. It was quite the back and forth, with multiple turnovers by both teams and late-game heroics by the Jayhawks to knock off the No. 6 ranked Sooners 38-33.
With another weekend of college football in the books and November on the horizon, we look to three prospects who are turning heads at the right time for their respective teams.
Florida State EDGE Jared Verse leaving his mark in the home stretch
It hasn’t been as impactful in the box score for Florida State’s Jared Verse in 2023. But that could be in part to the focus he’s drawn after a 2022 season where many mock drafts had him penciled into the first round of the next spring’s NFL Draft. Perhaps his stock hasn’t necessarily risen over the course of the 2023 season due to a slightly reduced stat line this season. No matter, as he’s still been an extremely effective player for the Seminoles and an improved down-to-down run defender.
Verse had one of his best overall games of the season both play-to-play and in the stat sheet against Wake Forest Saturday afternoon. He posted two sacks and eight quarterback pressures on 19 pass-rush opportunities.
It’s not an overly strong year for edge rushers at the top of the 2024 class, with no true blue-chip player at that position. Verse was at the top of the list coming into the season, but he’d fallen off some early on where he wasn’t quite as impactful. That juice he played with last year feels like it’s back with even more ability to convert speed to power in the pass-rush game.
Jared Verse was a monster yesterday vs. Wake Forest.— Brendan Sonnone (@BSonnone) October 29, 2023
PFF credited him with 8 (!) QB Pressures on only 19 pass-rush attempts. He had a 90.9 Defense Grade. pic.twitter.com/uVTNLAdvXd
Washington WR Ja’Lynn Polk is a multi-faceted prospect
The Huskies have the best trio of wide receivers in college football. Coming into the season, Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan were considered the two “dudes” in the room. But an injury to McMillan this season has given Polk plenty of chance to seize opportunity.
On Saturday against Stanford, the Huskies were locked into a close contest. Polk had two touchdowns that show just how much he has in his bag. On the first, Polk ran an out-and-up on a switch release. Without seeing a clip outside of the television copy, it appeared Polk forced the corner to grab him and Polk just kept running to waltz to the end zone on a 93-yard reception from quarterback Michael Penix.
On his next touchdown, Polk was on the receiving end of a opposite hash fade where he hauled in the ball with one arm completely contested. Polk has great hands, more than adequate speed, and route running ability.
Not many players have helped their stock more in 2023 than Polk, which has come even as part of a loaded wide receiver room.
Ohio State RB TreVeyon Henderson is back and looking healthy
Henderson was a five-star recruit in the 2021 recruiting class and looked every bit of that early on in his career. He’s since battled injuries dating back to his freshman year, including a multiple-game absence in 2023. He returned this past weekend against Wisconsin and looked like he was back to his old self. He had by far his biggest workload as well with 24 carries and four receptions. Henderson is as talented as any in the country, combining size and explosiveness.
There’s a special aspect to Henderson’s game that I’m not sure any back in this year’s class can touch from a complete package standpoint. It’s not too late for Henderson to earn back RB1 status heading into the 2024 NFL Draft process if he can remain healthy the remainder of the season.