Week 6 of the college football season is upon us. With one of the better head-to-head weekends of matchups, there also are lots of prospect vs. prospect battles to keep an eye on. This week’s “red dot prospects” include a Big Ten wide receiver on the rise, a quarterback looking to find some consistency, and two defensive backs in the FCS facing off.
Here are the players and battles that I’ll have my eyes on throughout the weekend.
DeMarvin Leal vs. Evan Neal
The matchup between Texas A&M and Alabama has lots of interesting prospect vs. prospect battles across each team, but the one that sticks out to me the most is Leal vs. Neal. Featuring two players that are both ranked inside of the top 10 on the Draft Network Top 100 prospects list, both have only strengthened their resumes as future first-round picks thus far.
Last season, Leal was one of the more challenging matchups of the year for Neal. Exposing some of his flaws, the two are set to battle again as the Crimson Tide enter College Station. Leal is a versatile defensive lineman that’s capable of playing all four positions up front. Possessing unique power and hand maturity at the position, he’s capable of being a fit in any front.
Another battle to keep an eye on in this contest is Alabama safety Jordan Battle against Texas A&M tight end Jalen Wydermyer.
Darian Kinnard vs. Ali Gaye
After missing the team’s previous two games, Gaye returned against Auburn and returned to his normal ways despite suffering a defeat. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, the Tigers’ edge rusher is a strong base end that’s stout at the point of attack. His firmness against the run will be put to the test as he faces off against one of the hottest prospects in the country in Kinnard.
The Wildcats offense has been on fire and the play of their right tackle has been a big reason behind the program’s success. Reminiscent of Cody Ford coming out of Oklahoma, Kinnard is a mauler that paves lanes in the run game but is efficient as a pass protector. There will be mixed opinions on if he’s a guard or tackle, but for the time being, facing off against Gaye will be a one-on-one matchup that scouts have their eyes glued to.
Already off to a strong start through five games, Dotson has recorded 35 receptions for 446 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Facing his stiffest test to date, the Iowa defense once again ranks among the best across the board in the country. Dotson already has a strong case as being one of the best senior prospects regardless of position. Now, he’s looking to improve his case as being arguably the best wide receiver in the class. An electric playmaker, Dotson has displayed an improved catch radius combined with his natural ability to make defenders miss in space.
Inching toward the halfway mark of the season, Rattler’s second season as a full-time starter has been a mixed bag and a rollercoaster of inconsistencies. Last season, the matchup against Texas was a snapshot of both ends of the spectrum for him. After struggling mightily in the first quarter and opening moments of the second, head coach Lincoln Riley benched Rattler. The Sooners signal-caller would return and finish the game strong in a four-overtime thriller, but this matchup a year ago was seen as the turning point for him.
Games-wise, last year, the matchup against Texas was the fourth game of the season. This year, it is the team’s sixth contest. Rattler has plenty of opportunities to salvage what was expected of him coming into the season, but it continues to be an uphill battle. Coming off of his best performance of the season against Kansas State where he finished 22-of-25 for 243 yards and two touchdowns, scouts want to see him string consecutive strong games together in order to be considered as a first-round quarterback.
Two FCS Defensive Backs to Watch
In an exciting MEAC vs. SWAC battle, the South Carolina State Bulldogs travel to Tallahassee to take on the Rattlers of Florida A&M. The two highest-ranked draft prospects in this game are Markquese Bell and Decobie Durant.
Both trending toward being day-three selections, Bell is an aggressive and versatile safety that has experience at both free and strong safety. His best game so far this season came against South Florida, where he racked up 15 tackles that included a forced fumble. Durant has continued to improve weekly and passed his biggest test with flying colors. Collecting two interceptions against Clemson earlier this season, teams have been reluctant to throw it in his direction since that point.