There are a lot of rivalry games today and matchups that could decide conference championships. Oklahoma looks to take out undefeated Texas Tech in a huge matchup on ABC tonight, and there’s many other games for you to keep you eye on as the bowl pairings start to shake out.
Boston College at Wake Forest (3:30 PM EST ABC)
This is a game that BC needs to win in order to keep alive their ACC Championship aspirations. It also features two potential Top 10 NFL picks, one on each side.
If you have watched BC the last few weeks you have seen the 325 lb. Raji eat college offensive linemen alive. He is simply too good for this level right now. He is a powerful run stuffer with great size who also can penetrate and is surprisingly athletic. He would definitely fit in a Patriots 3-4 scheme and creates great push inside while stalemating any attempt to move him out of the gaps. Probably the best interior defensive lineman in college football right now and a probable first round pick, perhaps the first tackle taken. He does benefit from being next to another excellent defensive tackle, Ron Brace, who’ll also be drafted (possibly on the first day). But while Brace is good, Raji is dominant and seems to be getting better each week after sitting out 2007. Watch Raji simply overpower a Notre Dame offensive lineman into his own running back in this clip.
A very athletic outside linebacker who can do it all. Hits like a house, can cover and rush the passer. At 6’3″ 248, he is a great athlete too, running a 4.6/40 and power lifting 400 lbs. But it’s not just his triangle numbers; he is a football player who makes many plays for Wake Forest. His coverage ability is demonstrated by his 6 career INTs, 3 of which he has returned for touchdowns. Good student and character guy who plays the game hard. Seems to be the perfect Patriot, even excelling on special teams with blocked punts. If you had to predict one guy, right now, that Bill Belichick would target, this would seem to be the guy and he’ll certainly be a first round pick. The question is how high?
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (7:15 PM ESPN2)
This is a big game in The Big East with Pitt checking in at 7-2 and Cincinnati having an impressive 8-2 record. The winner stands a good chance to win the conference.
Pitt WR Derek Kinder (#81)
Was a first team All-Big East selection in 2006 and then he blew out his ACL a week before his senior season in 2007. Redshirted and is now back playing this year. Has not shown the explosiveness or playmaking ability he had before the injury. He is still a tough competitor with good hands who’ll catch the ball in traffic, but he averages only 9.9 yards per catch and has only one TD all year. Likely needs another year to regain all his skills. He has good size, is tough and good hands so would make a good late round pick while he continues to strengthen his knee back to where it was.
Pitt MLB Scott McKillop (#40)
A decent sized middle-linebacker who led all of college football with an amazing 151 tackles as a junior in 2007. Also chipped in with 3 sacks and showed some coverage ability with a pick and 7 passes broken up. This year he still leads Pitt, but his tackles per game are down a bit. He has chipped in another 4 sacks and another INT. McKillop is not a great athlete, being a bit slow footed without tremendous size or speed. However, he is a good player and is somewhat of a throwback linebacker. He is very smart and plays with passion and has obviously produced. Probably better off in the middle as a two-down linebacker for a team that doesn’t demand versatility as much as the Patriots. He’ll likely be a mid-round choice and a solid NFL player.
Here is this year’s Matt Slater special. An under-the-radar versatile player who could catch the Patriots attention. Up until this season, the 6’4″ 255 lb. Barwin was a tight end for the Bearcats, starting there last year. He has made nearly 700 yards worth of catches at that position including 400 last year with 2 touchdowns. Reportedly posseses 4.6 speed and is an excellent athlete. Has repeatedly made plays on special teams for the Bearcats including blocked punts and recovered fumbles. In fact, he has blocked three kicks this year alone! This season, he switched over to defensive end and has excelled, with 7 sacks thru 10 games. He has still been used as a goal-line tight end on occasion and had a touchdown there. Just a good athlete, this could be a surprise pick the Patriots focus on, though he might slip thru the cracks having only played defensive end for one year. Would be an outside linebacker in a 3-4. Another Ohio kid, he reminds of Mike Vrabel in his size and play (tight end and pass rusher) and being a good athlete. Heck, he even looks a bit like Vrabel. What isn’t there to like? Size, athleticism to play outside, versatility to chip in as an extra tight end and a great special teams player. I hope the Patriots consider him. Here are some highlights from Barwin.
Others to Watch
Boise State RB Ian Johnson (#41) has been highly productive for the Broncos, running for close to 4,000 yards throughout his career. In fact, he’ll probably break the 4,000 yard mark today. He also has an amazing 54 rushing touchdowns in his career. He is having a good year, but hasn’t been featured as much by Boise State as he has in past years. His weakness is his size at a mere 194 lbs. and while he’s not slow, he’s not a blazer either, running a 4.58/40 time. That isn’t horrible for a running back, but its not breakaway stuff either. But, when you watch him run you can see he is very instinctive and has very nice moves which make him elusive to defenders and make him appear faster than he is. Also runs very hard and with good power for his size. Mediocre in the passing game. Johnson is a good player and hard runner who’ll probably make his mark in the NFL as a change of pace back. He’ll need to improve his receiving skills to be good at that, but he has the talent and drive to do so. Right now, he seems to be a mid-round choice for a team looking for a complementary back to develop as a role player. But there is no doubt he is special on the college level and fun to watch. See him run tonight at 4:00 PM EST vs. Nevada on ESPN2. In the meantime, here are some highlight plays.
Greg Doyle’s ‘College Scout’ appears weekly on Patriots Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.