After 14 excruciating weeks, college football’s weirdest regular season ever is coming to a slow, painful, sputtering end today. With 100 cancellations/postponements already under the belt, we saw five more cancellations confirmed this week, including top ranked teams like #4 Ohio State, #5 Texas A&M, and #8 Cincinnati who are all fighting for a spot in the four-team playoff.
As do most things in 2020, the fate of said playoff and the bowl game matchups surrounding it are up in the air. The inherent pessimist in all of us sports fans says that no matter what decision is made, things are bound to be changed because of the virus and/or the incompetence of those in power to make such decisions.
Oh yeah, about 30 percent of college athletes whose games were cancelled this weekend, won’t ever play another snap of football again. Now that I have thoroughly ruined your appetite for all things college sports, let’s completely change the subject!
Most teams won’t suit up for conference championships, so I decided to focus on players from teams that won’t be playing in those games. So, for the last time in the regular season, here are five college football players to look out for.
Before we look at those guys, let us check up on the players we profiled last week.
Dazz Newsome (#5), WR, North Carolina
- Dazz Newsome put in a great performance last Saturday versus Western Carolina University. He finished the contest with six receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown in UNC’s 49-9 win. As is the case with most Newsome games, the stats don’t tell the story because he looked as dynamic as ever. He showed up on special teams as well as the passing game. He’s climbing up my draft board the more I see him.
Zaven Collins (#23), LB, Tulsa
- Another case of stats not telling the story, Collins finished his game with only three tackles and a fumble recovery. The reason he had such modest numbers? Navy refused to run the ball toward him. They worked all game to keep Collins from influencing things, it didn’t work as Tulsa came away with a 19-6 victory.
Azeez Ojulari (#13), EDGE, Georgia
- One tackle for loss and one sack. That’s just what Ojulari does. If you read my blog last week you know that he is a one-trick pony, a really good pass rusher with trouble as a run defender. If we’re all honest with each other, I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole.
Hamilcar Rashed Jr. (#9), EDGE, Oregon State
- On the other end of the EDGE spectrum, I couldn’t love Hamilcar Rashed Jr. (Pronounced: Ham-ih-cuh Rah-SHEED) more. He’s just a natural disruptor, who at this point in his college career, creates more for others as offenses focus all of their attention on him. He finished Saturday’s 6-point loss against Utah with 6 tackles. He is also rumored to be playing through multiple injuries.
Zach Wilson (#1), QB, BYU
- Wilson and BYU lost a heartbreaker last week to Coastal Carolina, coming up literally one yard short of a win. He was good but I believe his performance did nothing but further people’s already set opinions about him. He’s a love him or leave him prospect, but let’s not forget he can make throws like this.
This was a silly throw by Zach Wilson. pic.twitter.com/QX7j3cyAUu— Keagan (@KeaganStiefel) December 9, 2020
*Weekly Disclaimer* I am not predicting that the Patriots will draft any of these players, I am just connecting the dots on who could fit in or have ties to New England.
Tre’ McKitty (#87), TE, Georgia
- Gametime: @ Mizzou
- Matchup: 12:00pm
- Network: SECN
Tre’ McKitty has a chance at being the best tight end in the 2021 NFL draft class, including Kyle Pitts. The man has every tool. His versatility is unmatched as he has lined up in-line, in the slot, out wide, in the backfield, and even at running back. His best play came from the H-back position.
McKitty’s size (6’5”, 240lbs) and athleticism (4.6 40-yard dash) are top tier at his position. He’s a classic mismatch for defenses as he’s too big for defensive backs and too fast for linebackers. The biggest knock on his game would be blocking, where he is extremely willing and likes to get after it but the technique just isn’t there.
The reason he won’t go in Round One come April is because of his usage in college. Splitting his time at Florida State and Georgia, McKitty was forced to be a short game possession receiver as a Seminole, and as a blocker with the Bulldogs. His success will lie solely on the system he ends up in, if he’s allowed to be dynamic and move around, he could be a star.
McKitty projects as a mid- to late-round prospect because of a lack of production and inability to crack the top lineups until his redshirt senior year. The Patriots could possibly draft him in the sixth round, and develop him behind their two choices from 2020, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. That would be dependent upon how if they view one, or both of those guys as future number one options. If they don’t, I’d expect them to either target Pitts in the first round or a free agent like Hunter Henry. The stars would have to align on this one, and if they do, the Patriots could end up with the steal of the draft.
McKitty and the Bulldogs will head to Columbia, MU to take on Nick Bolton and the Tigers. The matchup between those two players should produce a couple of highlights on either side. I like the prospects of this one for McKitty.
Dante Stills (#55), DT, West Virginia
- Gametime: vs. Oklahoma
- Matchup: 12:00pm
- Network: ABC
Dante, not to be confused with his older brother Darius, who he plays alongside at West Virginia, is another guy who could excel depending on the system he’s drafted into. The 6’3”, 275 lb defensive lineman is as versatile as they come, lining up all over the defensive line in different fronts for the Mountaineers.
He’s a stout run defender, who is very strong at the point of attack. His pass rush skills are on par with that of an NFL defensive tackle but he won’t do much to wow you. He made his name as a situational player early on in his college career, being a guy who West Virginia coaches could plug into any spot at any time. Eventually he became the same guy, just on every down.
Stills is the exact kind of defensive lineman that the Patriots usually look for. His versatility allows him to line up anywhere, just like Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, and so on. He’s played in both 4-3 and 3-4 systems at tackle and end. New England’s defensive fronts resemble an amoeba, usually calling for the lineman to be able to play inside and out. He won’t cost too high of a pick and could be groomed into the next steal on the Patriots front. This is a good fit for both sides.
Stills and West Virginia will play a high powered Oklahoma offense on Saturday that is preparing for the Big-12 Championship Game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stills could make a couple of splash plays while Oklahoma is caught looking ahead.
Jayson Oweh (#28), EDGE, Penn State
- Gametime: vs. Michigan State
- Matchup: 3:30pm
- Network: ESPN
Jayson Oweh is best described as a piece of clay that NFL teams can mold into their perfect guy. He’s got the frame (6’5”, 255 lbs) to be built into the size of a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. He’s extremely long and flexible, his athleticism is on par with just about anyone at his position, and the tales of his exploits in the weight room at Penn State are that of legend. He’s the kind of guy who could get drafted based off of his tools alone. He’s just so happened to put up some good numbers this year, his first as a starter.
The Patriots draft needs don’t really lead one to believe they’d be taking an EDGE player in the first round, Oweh could however slip into the second, where Bill Belichick is known for taking his best player available. Say the Patriots trade out of their first pick, Oweh could be a part of that return.
Penn State vs. Michigan State would have been awesome 5-10 years ago, now it’s just sort of sad. If there is any reason to watch this game, it’s Oweh.
Christian Darrisaw (#77), OT, Virginia Tech
- Gametime: vs. Virginia
- Matchup: 8:00pm
- Network: ACCN
Darrisaw has shot up draft boards like a roman candle on the Fourth of July. He’s become a lot of people’s number two tackle behind future top-5 pick Penei Sewell. Darrisaw is a straight up bull who has all the tools to be a future pro-bowler. His frame is already great but could still be filled out more. He has long arms and is extremely athletic moving laterally. His hand placement is superb, if he gets them on you, it’s a wrap. Has three full seasons worth of starts under his belt and is NFL ready right away.
I’ve been pretty up and down with my feeling on the Patriots taking lineman any higher than the fifth round this season. I don’t think they need to, even with Joe Thuney as a potential departure in FA they have Michael Onwenu to plug that spot and Jermaine Eluemunor and Justin Herron as tackle replacements. If they do decide to take one, this is the guy, without a doubt in my mind. He may even be able to be had with a second round pick.
Virginia Tech will be facing off with Virginia in what is usually one of the best games of the year. Darrisaw will have one last chance to play in Lane Stadium and he should be able to go out with a bang.
Paulson Adebo (#11), CB, Stanford
- Gametime: @ Oregon State
- Matchup: 10:30pm
- Network: ESPNU
Paulson Adebo has fallen down some draft boards and I’m not sure why. Adebo is a good outside corner who’s pretty physical and has held his own against really good receivers. He’s a willing run defender and works well against screens. He’s got great length that he uses in contested catch situations. His ball skills are fine and he’s shown the ability to bump inside. He doesn’t have great short area quickness or track speed but I think his rating as a second round corner was fine at the beginning of the season.
I don’t love the fit, but I do believe Adebo is a prime candidate for the dreaded second round defensive back selection we get every year here in New England. It’s a yearly tradition like no other, Bill Belichick drafts a defensive back in the second and then a Hall of Famer in the sixth. It’s a fair trade off.
In all seriousness, I think Adebo is just fine. Oregon State doesn’t have much that will test him but another shot to watch him play before the draft is noteworthy.