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College football players to watch for: Week 1

Related: Reviewing the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

College football is finally back! The long running traditions, raucous crowds, and 15-minute targeting reviews all made their return this week, and we’re capping it all off with a 58-game slate on Saturday. It is the true kickoff to football season in America.

We started this series last year as a way to get you fine folks familiar with the future stars of the NFL game. Throughout the season we put a twist on it, looking for potential New England Patriots draft targets. This year it’s all about viewing top college stars from a Patriots point of view. Some of them will play their way out of New England’s range, some will return to school for another season, some won’t fit a positional need come April. All of them, however, will have an effect on the Patriots’ draft strategy and play a role into how the team approaches next offseason.

So without further ado, here are five players you should watch for on College Football Saturday.

Jahan Dotson (#5), WR, #19 Penn State

  • Matchup: @ #12 Wisconsin
  • Gametime: 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Network: FOX

To be fully transparent, there are going to be a ton of wide receivers profiled in these lists. Despite their lack of success in drafting at the position, the Patriots likely won’t ever get rid of the need for top wide receiver talent without drafting and developing one.

That is where Jahan Dotson comes in. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound receiver was the top weapon in the Nittany Lions offense last season, leading them in receptions (56), yards (904), and touchdowns (8). Mostly playing as a ‘Z’ receiver during his time in college, Dotson plays best vertically, stretching the field and being able to snap off the top of routes. He has great hands and even better speed, which shows up well on his tape as a punt returner; where he is electrifying.

Wisconsin is a great first test for Dotson, who will deploy the best passing defense that he sees in 2021. Not only will it be a good test for his production, but may show the effect that he can have on his teammates, drawing defenders into double teams and opening things up across the offense.

Josh Jobe (#28), CB, #1 Alabama

  • Matchup: vs. #14 Miami (Neutral Site)
  • Gametime: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Network: ABC

The No. 1 cornerback job at Alabama now belongs to Josh Jobe. Similar to what the Patriots have done going from Ty Law to Asante Samuel to Darrelle Revis to Stephon Gilmore (with a couple of gaps of course), the Crimson Tide have done the same, rostering Marlon Humphrey, Trevon Diggs, and Patrick Surtain II, all in the past five seasons. With some uncertainty in New England’s cornerback room, why not look at Jobe as a potential No. 2 alongside Gilmore or J.C. Jackson?

At 6-foot-1, 192 pounds, Jobe has the ideal frame for an outside corner at the next level. Alabama head coach Nick Saban referred to him as “a competitive guy” who plays with a lot of “energy, enthusiasm, and effort.” Often times playing in a trail technique, Jobe’s speed and ball skills help him prevent completions but won’t do much in terms of helping him force turnovers. He’s a physical run defender who has no problem sticking his nose in things. Jobe has all of the intangibles you like to see in a No. 2 NFL corner.

As a Senior, Jobe has been around for a while, meaning he had to play second and third fiddle to guys like Diggs and Surtain II. Often times getting the lion’s share of passes thrown at him when he hit the field. Now he will draw the top assignment on the other side of the football. I will be watching which direction the target numbers head in, if they go down, it means he’s doing something right.

Ty Fryfogle (#3), WR, #17 Indiana

  • Matchup: @ #18 Iowa
  • Gametime: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Network: BTN

Already time for another wide receiver! The same story that applied to Dotson does here with Fryfogle. The Patriots cannot be scared to draft receivers. That of course does not mean that Fryfogle is the guy, he will just be one of the options come next April.

Fryfogle, who stands at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, is built from a similar kiln as Los Angeles Chargers rookie Josh Palmer. Strong to the point of attack with good verticality, Fryfogle is always moving up the field. When Indiana does get a bit fancy, they’ll run him on some orbit motion stuff out of the backfield to manufacture touches and get him into space.

With Whop Philyor now gone to the NFL, the Indiana offense now belongs to Ty Fryfogle and tight end Peyton Hendershot. If the Hoosiers have any shot at defeating a historically stingy Iowa defense, it’s by connecting on the big plays to Fryfogle.

DeMarvion Overshown (#0), LB, #21 Texas

  • Matchup: vs. #23 Louisiana
  • Gametime: 4:30 p.m. ET
  • Network: FOX

Here is an interesting question from the Patriots point of view. What do you do to eventually replace Adrian Phillips? In his lone season with New England so far, Adrian Phillips has carved out a “BULL” role in their defense as a linebacker/safety who can cover tight ends and stop the run. Once he’s gone, they’ll likely want someone to fill that role, and with Kyle Dugger penciled in as the long term Devin McCourty replacement, they don’t have someone on the roster for that.

Introducing DeMarvion Overshown: a 6-foot-4, 220-pound former defensive back who has become the Texas Longhorns defensive signal caller. Overshown was top five for the Longhorns in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks last season all while leading them in interceptions and passes defended. He is the exact kind of niche draft pick we’ve come to expect out of New England.

Overshown is now the bonafide leader of Texas’ defense, so week one is the perfect time to see how he can step into the role and perform against an underrated Louisiana squad. If he can continue his progression as a run defender, the sky is the limit.

Andrew Booth Jr. (#23), CB, #3 Clemson

  • Matchup: vs. #5 Georgia (Neutral Site)
  • Gametime: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Network: ABC

Another entry, another repeat position. We’ve seen how the situation at corner has been handled by New England. J.C. Jackson is playing on a restricted free agency tender, and Stephon Gilmore is on the PUP list, signaling his absence until at least week seven. It’s likely that one of, if not both of those players is gone in 2022. So cornerback is quickly becoming their top offseason priority.

Andrew Booth Jr. plays cornerback, and he does it pretty darn well! The 6-foot, 195-pound Booth Jr. has had trouble staying on the field, starting just four games in 2020. When he does get on the field, he looks like a star, making insane highlight reel plays.

Week one is absolutely huge for Booth Jr., who will likely draw the Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint assignment, who is one of the best wide receivers in the SEC. It is Booth Jr’s first real challenge in becoming a No. 1 corner, and should help spell out what kind of prospect he will become.