College Football Scouting Guide | Championship Weekend

The regular season is over and now we are on to Championship Week. This is where it gets even more exciting as we get to see plenty of good games with a lot on the line, but more importantly to us we get to see some new prospect match ups or prospects playing against better competition. So before you dive into the weekend of college football take some time to read through our College Football Scouting Guide to see which prospects to keep an eye on in each of these games.

 

Conference Championship Football Scouting Guide

 

6:00 CST on ESPN2

Northern Illinois Huskies vs Buffalo Bulls

 

Northern Illinois Prospects
LT Max Scharping (#6 OT)
DE Sutton Smith (#8 LB)

Buffalo Prospects
QB Tyree Jackson (#11 QB)
WR Anthony Johnson (#5 WR)
LB Khalil Hodge (#11 LB)

Several years ago in the height of #MACtion the conference championship game was always a must watch. This year the game isn’t getting a ton of hype but it should be a must watch because of the NFL Draft talent that will be playing in the game. Buffalo’s offense has been rolling this year and a big reason for that is their QB/WR combo of Jackson and Johnson. At 6’7 Tyree Jackson is tall for a quarterback but has a strong arm and can make plays with his feet. Receiver Anthony Johnson is the top rated prospect in this game showing strong hands, a good catching radius and the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. The one thing that prevents Johnson from being an elite prospect is his lack of overall explosion which can hurt his ability to separate in coverage.

While Buffalo has the ball you’ll see plenty of DE/OLB Sutton Smith whose 4th in the nation with 13 sacks on the season. Smith is undersized at 6’1 20lbs but has both the speed and bend to really wreck havoc. On offense the Huskies have left tackle Max Scharping who may have to move inside to guard because of a lack of good athletic ability, but he has a strong upper body that allows him to dominant defenders when he gets his hands on them.

 

7:00 CST on Fox

#17 Utah Utes vs #11 Washington Huskies

 

Utah Prospects
OT Jackson Barton
LB/S Chase Hansen (#10 S)
CB Julian Blackman

Washington Prospects
QB Jake Browning
RB Myles Gaskin (#6 RB)
TE Drew Sample
RT Kaleb McGary (#9 OT)
CB Byron Murphy
S Taylor Rapp (#2 S)
S JoJo McIntosh (#9 S)

Unfortunately this game become an afterthought with neither of these teams having a shot at the college football playoff but what it lacks there it makes up for it in NFL Draft talent. Washington’s strength is their secondary that is loaded with future NFL players as Byron Murphy is considered as one of best cornerbacks in the nation while Taylor Rapp’s ability to play both a cornerback and safety makes him an intriguing prospect. The problem is that Utah is a run based team who ranks 81st in the nation which in an essence takes away the Huskies secondary. When Washington has the ball they’ll look to lean on Myles Gaskin to carry the load. Gaskin is coming off a 170 yard three touchdown game against Washington State. For Utah to be in this game they’ll need to slow him down and they’ll hope that their defensive line can hold the point of attack. A key to stopping the run for Utah could be Chase Hansen who is a cross between a linebacker and safety who plays with good instincts and is used in a variety of ways. Julian Blackman is a corner for Utah to watch as he is a former receiver who has good size and length while showing off his receiving skills when he plays the ball in the air.

 

11:00 CST on ABC

#14 Texas Longhorns at #5 Oklahoma Sooners

 

Texas Prospects
RB Tre Watson
WR Collin Johnson
TE Andrew Beck
LT Calvin Anderson
NT Chris Nelson
DE Charles Omenihu
LB Anthony Wheeler
LB Gary Johnson
CB Kris Boyd (#7 CB)
CB Devante Davis
CB PJ Locke

Oklahoma Prospects
QB Kyler Murray (#2 QB)
WR Marquise Brown (#3 WR)
LT Bobby Evans (#10 OT)
LG Ben Powers (#4 iOL)
RG Dru Samia (#6 iOL)

Not only does Oklahoma have a chance to make the College Football Playoff with a win but they also get a chance to avenge their only loss of the season against the rival Longhorns. The first game was a shoot out that saw the Longhorns kick a field goal at the end of the game to get the 48-45 win. Expect this game to be much the same. Texas’ defense has plenty of NFL Draft talent but they need to step up to slow down this potent Sooner offense that leads the nation in yards per game. A big reason for that is the combination of quarterback Kyler Murray and receivers CeeDee Lamb (not draft eligible) and Marquise Brown who have elite speed, ball tracking ability and can make catches in traffic. While Murray has the arm strength to stretch the field with the receivers he also has the speed and explosiveness to make plays with his feet. They’ll face off against a defensive backfield that is strong in its own right. Texas has two good outside cornerbacks in Davonte Davis and Kris Boyd while nickel corner PJ Locke could be the best defender on their roster. With Boyd playing the boundary (short side) and Davis playing the field we’ll get to see them both against Lamb and Brown which should tell us a lot. Boyd is a fluid corner who can mirror receivers in an out of breaks, but his long speed will be tested against Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is much more than just a downfield passing team and are actually pretty balanced as they average 264 rushing yards per game. Trey Sermon has been huge replacing Rodney Anderson but running behind a good offensive line helps. Texas has a strong front seven highlighted by defensive tackle Charles Omenihu. Omenihu stands 6’6 and is a stout run defender who uses his hands well to take on blockers. He’ll line up against both tackles and guards, so seeing him against left tackle Bobby Evans, left guard Ben Powers and right guard Dru Samia at different parts of the game. Texas also has a couple of good linebackers in Anthony Wheeler and Gary Johnson. Wheeler is better in space where Johnson is a physical downhill run stuffer.

As for the Longhorn’s offense they do have a few weapons that have NFL futures in receiver Collin Johnson and tight end Andrew Beck. Johnson is big at 6’6 and his improvement as a route runner this season has given quarterback Sam Ehlinger a reliable target. As for Beck he’s a skilled run blocker but has been a reliable chain mover for this offense. One last prospect to watch out for is left tackle Calvin Anderson. The Rice transfer has taken over at left tackle this year and done a solid job. He’s definitely a prospect to keep an eye on as a potential day three pick.

 

3:30 CST on CBS

#4 Georgia Bulldogs vs #1 Alabama Crimson Tide

 

Georgia Prospects
RB Elijah Holyfield
WR Terry Godwin
WR Riley Ridley
TE Isaac Nuata
C Lamont Gaillard
DE Jonathan Ledbetter
OLB D’Andre Walker
CB Deandre Baker (#4 CB)
FS JR Reed

Alabama Prospects
RB Damien Harris (#8 RB)
TE Irv Smith Jr (#3 TE)
LT Jonah Williams (#1 OT)
C Ross Pierschbacher (#1 iOL)
DE Isaiah Buggs (#12 DL)
DT Quinnen Williams (#3 DL)
DT Raekwon Davis (#5 DL)
OLB Anfernee Jennings
ILB Mack Wilson (#3 LB)
OLB Christian Miller
FS Deionte Thompson (#1 S)

The entire season the Crimson Tide have cruised through their schedule without much of a threat. Could that change here against Georgia whose ranked 4th in the College Football playoff? Alabama’s offense is elite with Tua Tagovailoa and their receivers but they are all sophomores or freshman. The top draft eligible weapon for the Crimson Tide is tight end Irv Smith Jr who is an athletic tight end that can stretch the seam but also take short passes and get yards after the catch. While the weapons are young the Tide’s offensive line has some elite prospects in left tackle Jonah Williams and center Ross Pierschbacher. Williams has everything that you want out of a left tackle but lacks the ideal arm length. Against Georgia he’ll see plenty of OLB D’Andre Walker who is the Bulldogs top pass rusher with 6.5 sacks this season. Georgia also has one of the best cornerbacks in this class in Deandre Baker who’ll face the likes of Jerry Jeudy and Jaylon Waddle who will test his deep speed and the ability to change direction.

To beat Alabama you’re not going to win a low scoring battle, so the Bulldogs need a big game out of sophomore quarterback Jake Frohm. But that is easier said than done as the Crimson Tide’s defense is just so loaded with talent. he font line is easily one of the two best units featuring stud sophomore Quinnen Williams who is the total package while Raekwon Davis can clog up holes and Isaiah Buggs has developed into a sack artist from the 5 technique. After that you have to deal with linebackers Mack Wilson, Anfernee Jennings and Christian Miller. Georgia relies on their run game behind Elijah Holyfield and sophomore D’Andre Swift but they’ll need their offensive line to hold their own against this front seven. In the secondary the Crimson Tide have free safety Deionte Thompson who makes big time plays each game with this elite range and ball skills. The cornerbacks are young, so this is where Georgia might look to attack. Terry Godwin is a complementary role but has the speed to win the down field while Riley Ridley is good at the catch point leading the Bulldogs with 8 touchdowns on the season.

 

7:00 CST on ABC

#2 Clemson Tigers vs Pittsburgh Panthers

 

Clemson Prospects
WR Hunter Renfrow (#11 WR)
LT Mitch Hyatt (#7 OT)
C Justin Falcinelli
DE Austin Bryant
DE Clelin Ferrell (#2 Edge)
DT Dexter Lawrence (#8 DL)
DT Christian Wilkins (#3 DL)
DT Albert Huggins
LB Kendall Joseph
CB Trayvon Mullen (#9 CB)
CB Mark Fields

Pittsburgh Prospects
RB Qadree Ollison
RB Darrin Hall
WR Rafel Araujo-Lopes
LT Stefano Millin
RT Alex Bookser
DE Dewayne Hendrix
LB Elijah Zeise
LB Oluwaseun Idowu

This game looks like a huge mismatch on paper as the Tigers are clearly one of the best teams in college football while the Panthers are a five loss unranked team. But let’s not forget that it was the Panthers who gave Clemson their only regular season loss, so you never know what could happen here. The focus of this game and almost every game is the Clemson defense that is talent rich, especially in their front four. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has been on fire the last several weeks showing the burst and strength that had so many analysts fall in love with him a couple years back. Pitt has two good running backs in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall who have lead this offense for nearly 2,000 rushing yards. After dealing with Wilkins, they also have to worry about the other defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence who is a stout run defender while defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant can lock down the edges. Pittsburgh is going to have their work cut out for them.

 

7:00 CST on Fox

#21 Northwestern Wildcats vs #6 Ohio State Buckeyes

 

Northwestern Prospects
QB Clayton Thorson
LT Blake Hance
DE Joe Garziano
DT Jordan Thompson
LB Paddy Fisher (#6 LB)
LB Nate Hall
CB Montre Hartage

Ohio State Prospects
QB Dwayne Haskins (#4 QB)
RB Mike Weber
WR Paris Campbell
WR KJ Hill
RT Isaiah Prince
DT Dre’Mont Jones (#9 DL)
CB Kendall Sheffield (#6 CB)
CB Damon Arnette

At the beginning of the season the Big 10 Championship game was thought to be a showdown between Wisconsin and Michigan/Ohio State to determine which team would go to the College Football playoff. Instead we have Ohio State with a chance but they’re playing a Northwestern team with four losses and didn’t win a single non-conference game. Ohio State has an explosive offense lead by quarterback Dwayne Haskins who uses is elite arm talent to win down the field and make touch throws. Paris Campbell and KJ Hill are the Buckeyes top draftable receivers both providing speed down the field. For Northwestern their top draftable talent is all on the defensive side of the ball and the top prospect may cornerback Montre Hartage. Hartage has size and ball skills, but has been out the last couple of games with an undisclosed injury. Paddy Fisher is a popular linebacker prospect showing good instincts and the ability to tackle so he’ll be looked to provide a solid presence in the middle of the field against the run game. One prospect battle to watch on this side of the field is right tackle Isaiah Prince facing off against defensive end Joe Garziano. Prince has struggled at times but was voted 1st team All-Big 10 while Garziano’s 11 sacks on the season gives him two straight years with ten plus sacks and 19.5 in three years.

Ohio State’s defense has been a liability getting gashed in the run against Maryland and in the air against Purdue. This gives Northwestern a chance as Clayton Thorson has some arm talent but he struggles with consistency and the Wildcats really lack the weapons to really exploit the Buckeyes. As for the Buckeyes they do have some prospects that could go high in the 2019 draft. Defensive Tackle Dre’Mont Jones is an athletic penetrating defensive tackle while cornerback Kendall Sheffield has the speed and change of direction skills needed to be a good press man corner.

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