logoby Greg Doyle

Saturday November 17, 2007

Some big college games on the docket today. BCS bowl and conference championshp berths will be decided. It’s also rivalry week, so let’s take a look around.

Ohio State at Michigan (ABC Noon): Annually one of the huge games in college football, this one will decide the Big 10 championship and a probable trip to the Rose Bowl (unless Ohio State gets back in the National Championship picture). Ohio State won the last game here at Michigan, but hasn’t won two in row there since 1979 and 1981. Lets look at some of the potential draftees in the game.

Ohio State Fullback Dionte Johnson (#49): A pure blocking fullback who almost never touches the ball. Has 1 carry this year and no pass receptions. Checks in at 242 lbs and packs a wallop as a blocker. Pepper Johnson’s son, so may get a look with the Patriots for that reason. Has NFL blocking skills, but has displayed little else. Speed is questionable and with 5 career carries and no receptions, hasn’t demonstrated he can be the versatile type fullback the Patriots look for. Has played a lot on special teams, so that helps his cause. Keith Byars is his godfather.

Ohio State LB Larry Grant (#6): First year as a starter, but has shown himself to be an active playmaker at linebacker. Has 42 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks and an interception. Has been a leader on the very good Buckeyes defense. Has also blocked two kicks, so shows special teams aptitude. May be a bit small for the Patriots scheme at 226 lbs, but has the height to put on more weight at 6’3″. Good playing speed.

Michigan Wide Receivers Mario Manningham (#86) and Adrian Arrington (#16): These two are both juniors, but one or both could come out. Manningham is better right now. He could come out as he led Michigan in receiving as a sophomore and has built on that with an even better junior year. Currently has over 1,000 yards and 11 Touchdowns. Averages over 17 yards per catch. Has had knee problems in the past, but has been healthy this year. Very fast (has run a 4.39/40), good height and smooth. Could use some more bulk but should be a first round pick. Arrington is bigger at 6’3″ and also very talented. First year as a full-time starter. You’d think if Manningham comes out, Arrington would stay to be “the man” for a season. However, because he redshirted, he is a senior academically so he may not accept his last year of eligibility. Has over 700 yards and 6 touchdowns this year. Has had discipline problems. Ran a 4.46/40 in high school.

Michigan Safety Brandon Englemon (#31): Surprise starter for the Wolverines who was expected to be beaten out by younger players, he’s Michigan’s second leading tackler. Has 2 INTs and 1 forced fumble. Off and on starter in earlier seasons. A smart, good sized, but somewhat slow player who probably lacks the talent to be an NFL starter. May be able to stick on a roster as a backup if he displays good special teams ability. He has played those at Michigan.

Penn State at Michigan State (3:30 PM ABC): The 8-3 Penn State Nittany Lions could get themselves into a good bowl with a win here while 6-5 Michigan State needs a win to assure themselves of an invite somewhere.

Penn State QB Anthony Morelli (#14): Has been a good overall player for Penn State but hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. Once Penn State fans loudly pined for the highly recruited Morelli, but he hasn’t lived up to the hype. By all accounts, has had a reasonably good senior year. Has 17 touchdowns versus 9 interceptions. But has been more of a competent game manager than a difference maker. Can probably play in the NFL. He’s smart and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, along with improving his accuracy this year. But he doesn’t wow you or win games on his own. Probably a mid-round choice at best. Very good size, but not real mobile. Won an NFL punt, pass and kick competition as a 10 year old.

Michigan State RB Jehuu Caulcrick (#30): Big, 255 lb. running back who is somewhat reminiscent of former Michigan State runner T.J. Duckett, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Only averages 3.9 per carry, but that is brought down by goal-line carries and he is very good in that area, with 20 touchdowns this year. For his career has over 2,200 yards, including over 700 this year. Big bruising runner who lacks speed and cutting ability. Decent in passing game, none the less. Born in Liberia. An NFL prospect, but isn’t a great runner.

Michigan State DE Jonal Saint-Dic (#94): Yes, this poor guy’s name is really Saint-Dic. His first year as a starter, he’s opened some eyes with 10 sacks. Would most likely play linebacker in the NFL as he weighs in at 250 lbs. Plays exclusively down now, but has the speed to convert. Will have to learn, which will make him a late round prospect. But he has some talent to develop into at least a decent NFL player, possibly more. Reminds of former Patriot Tully Banta-Cain at this stage of his career.
Boston College at Clemson (7:45 PM ESPN2): This game will decide which team goes to the ACC Championship game.

Boston College QB Matt Ryan (#12): We’ve talked about Ryan before. He is a big-time college QB, smart with a good arm. Tough as well. But he isn’t perfect and has shown some warts on occasion. Seems to make mistakes on short throws over the middle and locks in on receivers on those routes too often. Still, he is a very good prospect and should be a first or second round NFL pick.

Boston College S Jamie Silva (#44): I really didn’t think Silva was an NFL prospect at the start of the year, but he has been so outstanding he deserves mention. He is tough and a solid tackler, but slow in coverage. He isn’t a great athlete, but he is a football player and smart. If there’s room for the Raymond Ventrones of the world in the NFL, there may be for Silva as well. Tough guys who are smart, can tackle, direct a defense from the safety spot and play special teams sometimes stick.

Clemson LB Nick Watkins (#32): Their best player and leading tackler on defense. He is fast and a sure tackler, but would not fit with the Patriots. He is more of a 1-gap player and could not play in a 3-4. Should be a solid NFL player for some team, however.

Others to Watch: Over on ABC at 8:00 PM, check out Texas Tech Safety Joe Garcia (#49) as he and the rest of the Red Raiders take on Oklahoma. A big 217 lb. safety who is also Texas Tech’s leading tackler, Garcia likes to hit and is great at stuffing the run. Can improve in coverage, but a hitter. At Noon on ESPN, Connecticut takes on Syracuse. Watch #24 for Connecticut, receiver Larry Taylor. While he plays receiver, his real chance to catch on in the NFL is as a kick returner. A diminutive 5’6″ 173, he has only 20 catches this year and has been an average college receiver at best. With blazing 4.37 speed, he has been an excellent punt returner for the Huskies. That is his chance to stick. He’s exciting, watch him on kicks. Elected team captain, which is something the Patriots like to see.