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2024 NFL Draft: College Football Recap, Week 0

A few performances stand out from a light first weekend of games

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

There were only seven matchups to kick off the first weekend of 2023 college football action within the FBS ranks. Among those matchups, four of them ended as one-score contests. Only two ranked teams participated in Week 0 — No. 6 USC and No. 13 Notre Dame. Both the Trojans and Irish took care of business by four scores or more, showing exactly what separates them from the rest when comparing the quality of team within Week 0.

With so few matchups in Week 0, the pool of prospects to consider for their performance this past week isn’t great in number. But a few players stood out and surely deserve their flowers.

Vanderbilt S De’Rickey Wright seals the game with his second interception

Vanderbilt isn’t a known football hot bed, despite being a member of the SEC. But the Commodores do have a former four-star jumbo safety in De-Rickey Wright — who made his presence felt on Saturday in what was a close game with Hawaii. Wright, measuring 6’4” and 220 pounds, collected two interceptions during Saturday night’s contest. He also forced a fumble on the evening. Wright isn’t a household name just yet, but his size and athleticism combination is cause for intrigue and he will be one to watch moving forward.

Wright’s first interception of the game was most impressive as he contorted his body while keeping his lower half under control for a toe tap.

Notre Dame LB Marist Liufau flashed plenty against Navy’s heavy ground attack

The Fighting Irish have a pair of linebackers destined for the 2024 NFL Draft, with Jack Bertrand and Liufau primarily manning the spots. Liufau — a senior from Hawaii — was a consistent presence against the Midshipmen on Saturday holding the option offense to a meager 2.6 yards per carry. Liufau only had seven total tackles on the afternoon, but it felt like he impacted the game regularly from start to finish. He’s a player who has NFL ready-made size to get drafted decently high next April. His performance against Navy should be a good start on his way towards a quality senior season. His athleticism won’t “wow” you, but he plays with his hair on fire and he’s a true striker who has a bear-like grasp on ball carriers.

USC QB Caleb Williams making early case as a repeat for the Heisman

USC has plenty of talent to go around within their skill positions — as we saw on Saturday night when they racked up 56 points with ease against San Jose State. But it’s still Williams who is the engine of that offense. There were a few “wow” moments on an imperfect night for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He averaged 11.1 yards per attempt. The game seemingly moves at a different pace for him at all times.

We’d be remiss not to mention true freshman Zachariah Branch’s dazzling (and electric) performance on Saturday. He looks like one of USC’s next greats, as he displayed a different level of explosion and speed than anyone else on the field. Branch has a few more seasons to go before he sees the NFL, but it’s only a matter of time. Branch was the No. 1 receiver in the nation coming out of the 2023 recruiting class.

The clip below showcases Williams’ ridiculous talent as a passer as he collects a fumbled snap, sets his feet, and lobs the ball 50 yards flat-footed as a rusher bears down on him. We’re witnessing a truly special talent at the position.