by Greg Doyle, Patriots Daily Staff
September 5, 2009

Welcome to another year of College Scout. As usual, we’ll be spotlighting mostly senior top players in two nationally televised games, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. We’ll see who projects as particular fit for the Patriots and in some cases who doesn’t. Later in the year, we’ll look at some of the best juniors too, as some will undoubtedly enter the draft next April. I hope this weekly column adds to your enjoyment of the great sport of college football and your feedback, as always, is much appreciated.

Georgia at Oklahoma State, Saturday at 3:30 PM EST on ABC

Georgia heads to highly regarded Oklahoma State’s home turf a decided underdog, an unusual position for the Bulldogs. Georgia did lose a lot this offseason, such as their All-American quarterback and running back, but the cupboard is far from dry and there is a lot of talent left over. If they can pull off the upset here, this will be the last time all year they’re overlooked. Oklahoma State looks to be explosive on offense against this year. Here is who to keep your eyes on:

Georgia QB Joe Cox (#14)

Cox is a 5th year senior who has never had the chance to be the starter. He does now that Matt Stafford has gone on to the NFL. Cox has one previous career start. The highly recruited Cox has sat patiently waiting for his chance. He is a guy who was 31-0 as a starting QB in high school. Has thrown 58 career passses at Georgia, showing nice touch and a solid 5-1 TD/INT ratio. He doesn’t have the big arm Stafford has, nor the size, coming in at only 6’1″ 198. That size will hinder him getting a shot in the NFL, but he does have smarts and accuracy and moves around the pocket well. May project as a potential NFL backup. He has had the flu heading into this game, but is expected to play. Reportedly, Cox is a very well liked and respected teammate, and people appreciate the hard work he put in while waiting 5 years for his chance. He is a bit of an unknown, his size is a concern, but was well-regarded coming from high school and could play himself into being an NFL prospect. Asked this year after spring practice to name one pick as the team leader, 107 of 110 Georgia Bulldogs picked Joe Cox. That is a pretty impressive statement about his leadership as well.

Georgia DT Jeff Owens (#95)

The 6’3″ 300 lb. Owens came into last season a consensus All-SEC candidate only to be injured early in the first game. He  missed the rest of the season. He has started 24 games in his career and has been a very effective gap plugger, the type the Patriots would like. What he hasn’t done is make a lot of plays or sacks. He has only gotten to the QB 3.5 times in his career. Now recovered from injury, the very strong Owens has a chance to play himself into the first round of the NFL draft if he can add a bit of playmaking to his stout, physical mauling of offensive linemen. Owens may fit best at end in the NFL in a 3-4.

Georgia DT Geno Atkins (#56)

Atkins is a 6’1″ 290 lb. sparkplug for the Bulldogs whose play has him listed on many preseason All-Conference first team lists. Atkins, unlike his fellow lineman Jeff Owens, has been a consistent playmaker for the Bulldogs in his previous 3 years, generating 16 career sacks. He also has 73 career quarterback hurries. His size makes it questionable if he’d fit with the Patriots and may be more suited with his speed (4.8) and quickness to a Warren Sapp type role in a 4-3 one gap defense.

Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson (#11)

The 6’3 218 lb. Robinson directs the high powered Cowboys offense heading into a senior year of a college career that has already seen impressive statistical accomplishment. The mobile Robinson also possesses an excellent arm and the ability to step up in the pocket and throw on the move. He already is first in all-time career offense for OSU. He does have an NFL future and has the arm strength to play at that level. Playing in a spread offense, it’s difficult to tell how easily or quickly he could adapt to the NFL, but he has the size and strength missing in a lot of college spread quarterbacks. Reportedly he runs a very impressive 4.62. At the moment he is probably a mid-round choice and the offense he plays in hurts him. But if he shows in preseason the ability to adapt to other offenses and play under center, he could move up. Certainly for now, he remains one of the most exciting offensive weapons in college football.

Oklahoma State LB Patrick Lavine (#4)

The smallish Lavine checks in at 6’2″, 226 which is probably too small to play linebacker for the Patriots. But he is a tackling machine who could end up with more tackles than any player in OSU history. He relies on speed to get to the ball carrier and is also good in coverage. Lavine has NFL potential, but probably in a different type defense. For today, let’s see if he can back up his words as he has said he has waited two years to avenge OSU’s 2007 35-14 loss to Georgia.

Oklahoma State CB Perrish Cox (#16)

The 6’0″ 198 lb. Cox is not only one of the better cornerbacks in the country, he may be one of the best kick returners. Has taken 4 kickoffs back to the house and one punt in his first three years. A very exciting returner. But what’s more, he is a top-notch corner who makes plays there as well. Already, Cox is almost a sure-fire first day pick who intrigues with his size/speed combination. He is also a willing participant in run defense. Keep your eye on him as this is one guy on OSU that would fit the Patriots defense (and special teams) and could be a very high pick next year.

Virginia Tech vs. Alabama at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta 8:00 PM EST on ABC

Two very well coached teams face off with Alabama expected to be a national title contender and a touchdown favorite over the Hokies. The Hokies have some things to figure out on offense, having just lost last year’s freshman sensation running back Darren Evans to a season-ending injury a few weeks ago. Defense is the strong point for each team. Expect a close, hard fought, physical contest. Here is who to watch for:

Virginia Tech TE Greg Boone (#8)

Somewhat of a freak size-wise for a tight end, Boone checks in at 6’3″ 280 lbs. But he does have some pass catching ability, having pulled down 38 catches for 513 yards in his career. He has good hands and obviously can block at his size. There may be some consideration for using him at tackle since he has obvious athletic ability. The Pats could conceivably consider a project like this, as they have had other converted tight ends come thru their system as tackles before. Probably would never be more than a second tight end in the NFL and thus a late round choice.

Virginia Tech CB Stephen Virgil (#22)

Became a starter as a junior in 2008 and had a very impressive year with 6 INTs. Also returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Has 2 career blocked kicks. Has good corner size and runs a 4.39. He comes into the year as VT’s top cornerback and could move way up into the first round with improvement.

Alabama DE Brandon Deadrick (#95)

The 6’4″ 287 Deadrick has the height to possibly fit at end in the kind of 3-4 the Patriots run. Has started 21 career games heading into the year and has 6 career sacks. Will only be 22 at draft time. Has the frame to put on a bit more weight and one senses he hasn’t quite finished improving as a player. Possible first day pick who, under Nick Saban, has familiarity with a system similar to what the Patriots have.

Alabama NT Terrence Cody (#62)

The massive 6’5″ 365 lb. Cody dominates the middle of the ‘Bama line at nose tackle. So massive, he makes Vince Wilfork look tiny. Nicknamed “Mount Cody”, he’s on every first team All-American list as the nose tackle. Was a big part of Alabama having the second best run defense in the country last year. Just a massive man who should clog up the middle of lines in the NFL for a long time. Perfect fit for the Patriots in a 3-4. He is a bit more athletic than you’d think, as big as he is. Strong and works hard. Keep your eye on him. Should be interesting to see how he plays against a spread-type team and if that is one way to neutralize his dominance.

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