College Football is back today. On my schedule tonight is Southern Miss at South Carolina and USC’s visit to Hawaii. I’ve listed below some of the names I’ll be keeping an eye on, feel free to make recommendations or requests in the comments section. There’s a lot of good games over the weekend but perhaps none more interesting than LSU vs North Carolina. Chris Steuber is reporting that Seattle will have scouts at the game. No surprises really considering the talent on offer, which includes potential top-1o picks like Robert Quinn (DE, UNC) and Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU). More on that game tomorrow.
Southern Miss @ South Carolina
Cliff Matthews (DE, South Carolina)
6’4″, 260lbs defensive end who looks set to become the teams defensive leader after influential Eric Norwood departed for the NFL. May struggle against double teams on a Gamecocks team that lacks much other quality on the defensive line. Matthews considered declaring for the 2010 draft after allegedly receiving a 1st-3rd grade from the NFL draft committee. Instead he returns for his senior year off the back of shoulder surgery. Registered seven sacks last season and 47 total tackles (including ten for a loss). Reports suggest he may have added weight and moved up to 275lbs, but in terms of the Seahawks scheme and the use of the slighter LEO pass rusher, I’d rather see him play in the 265lbs range.
Chris Culliver (CB, South Carolina)
A useful return man who earned Second team SEC honours as a free safety last year, Culliver will switch to cornerback for his senior year. He had seven pass breakups at safety, two sacks and a forced fumble/recovery. Culliver has registered 2215 kick return yards with a long of 67 yards. Athletic and good enough in the tackle to be worthy of keeping an eye on. Following Josh Wilson’s trade to Baltimore, there’s no point scouting cornerbacks in that 5’8″ or 5’9″ range. Culliver is a healthy 6’0″, 200lbs prospect who might be worthy of mid-late round grades next April.
Weslye Saunders (TE, South Carolina)
He’s suspended and won’t play against Southern Miss (agents, again). However, Saunders is a talented prospect and worth keeping an eye on if you have the chance to watch the Gamecocks later in the year. Enjoyed a bigger role with the team last year, particularly impressed in blocking situations whilst scoring three touchdowns. Hopefully the 6’6″, 273lbs prospect gets on the field in game two.
Anthony Gray (DT, Southern Miss)
Interior defensive lineman listed at 6’0″ and 304lbs. Listed in the Conference USA pre-season first team. Recorded 40 tackles last year including 1.5 sacks and seven tackles for a loss. Has the opportunity to put himself into late round discussions with a solid 2010 season. Southern Miss earned a reputation as a team who create turnovers last year and Gray’s presence as a three-technique who needs to be blocked played a large role in that.
USC @ Hawaii
Jurrell Casey (DT, USC)
6’1″, 305lbs Interior lineman who like Brian Price (DT, UCLA) last year, just finds a way to consistently get into the backfield. As a sophomore he recorded four sacks in USC’s rotation including two forced fumbles. Due to SoCal’s two-year Bowl ban, it would be a surprise if the team’s most talented juniors don’t declare for 2011 should they perform to expectations this year. Casey has the potential to be a top 20 pick if he can increase the stat line and unlike Price, prove he’s capable of staying on the field.
Kristofer O’Dowd (C, USC)
6’5″, 300lbs center who could warrant mid-round consideration in 2011. Injuries have been an issue for O’Dowd but he does have some mobility given his size and wouldn’t be completely ruled out of working in Seattle’s zone blocking scheme. Was benched by Pete Carroll at one stage in order to establish full health and O’Dowd has missed a lot of game-time. Still, he’s one of the big name interior lineman who often get over rated into first round talk because of reputation. That won’t happen, but O’Dowd can be a solid mid-round choice next April health permitting.
Nick Perry (DE, USC)
Nine sacks in his first season starting has drawn a lot of attention Perry’s way. The junior fits the bill as a potential LEO pass rusher (6’3″, 250lbs). Does a lot of his damage by exploding off the snap with good initial quicks. Struggles sometimes to disengage but should becomes less of an issue with greater experience and strengthening. Playing with an interior presence like Jurrell Casey, Perry has the potential to cause some damage this year. If he can record 12 sacks and continue to impress, there’s no reason why he won’t be someone we talk a lot about over the next few weeks.
Stanley Havili (FB, USC)
Just a fun player to watch in that he’s a full back who just makes plays. Have you ever known a full back register 894 receiving yards and 10 TD’s in their career? He also averages over 6-yards per carry rushing. It looked like Havili might be in trouble after a fight with teammate T.J. Bryant led to a suspension, but he was allowed to return to camp after several pleas from his teammates. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he scored a touchdown or two against Hawaii.