The 2020 college football season continues forward against the odds and we are seeing some teams near the end of their scheduled contests for this fall. The opportunities to lay eyes on the best college prospects may be waning, but we've already seen a slew of prospects take advantage of the opportunities they've been afforded this fall—and there's little question that they've earned themselves valuable NFL draft stock and, eventually, extra cash on their signing bonuses this spring.
Who is making the most of their opportunities this fall? Our collective scouting staff put our heads together to provide a massive update to the 2021 TDN100. The five prospects below are rising fast and are some of the biggest movers in our latest TDN100 update this month, which you can see for yourself on our player rankings page.
Georgia CB Eric Stokes
TDN100 Rank: 21st overall
Before the season started, we at TDN were most excited about the "other" Georgia cornerback, Tyson Campbell. But the tape don't lie. Stokes has been playing excellent football this season and given his positional value, it is an easy sell to get behind him as one of the bigger risers of the fall. Stokes has three interceptions this season and scored twice on his own—and he's not done yet. He's been the best Georgia defender on the field to our eyes this fall and given some of the struggles from others at the position (namely Ohio State's Shaun Wade and Stokes' own teammate, Campbell), he has potential to be a top-3 or top-4 cornerback drafted and ultimately challenge for positioning in the top 20 of the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.
USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker
TDN100 Rank: 27th overall
Vera-Tucker has boosted his stock by taking on a different kind of challenge this fall: playing left tackle. Vera-Tucker is replacing a 2020 first-round tackle Austin Jackson at USC and has been able to transition gracefully from his previous role at left guard. If you'd like to try him at left tackle in the pros, feel free. But at the very least you know you'll have a super athletic guard in waiting if he needs to transition back inside to play on the interior. The athleticism won't be a question for this 315-pound lineman and if he builds momentum to play outside, he could possibly push for a top-20 selection as well. But as things currently stand, we'll take him as the most diverse athletic interior lineman in the class at this point in time.
Tulsa LB Zaven Collins
TDN100 Rank: 33rd overall
The buzz on Collins started heating up from some others in the industry earlier this month—and when we looked for ourselves, sure enough he is quite the stud. Collins makes big plays every week and currently owns 49 tackles, four sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two pick-sixes this season. You got all that? Collins is a notable player due in large part to his athletic prowess at 260 pounds—remember all the buzz that Wisconsin's Zach Baun got last year? Collins gives you a lot of the same versatility but in a frame that has an extra 20-25 pounds on it. Baun eventually went in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft thanks to medical red flags, whereas Collins has yet to miss a game in his collegiate career. Take all the good of Baun without the bad and an extra 20 pounds of size and you've got yourself one hell of a hybrid defender prospect.
Miami DE Jaelan Phillips
TDN100 Rank: 50th overall
Phillips has never had a question of physical talent. He was a 5-star recruit who initially committed to UCLA and was a standout freshman for the Bruins before injuries derailed his tenure there. In Miami for the first time, Phillips is playing like he's got something to prove—because he does. He'll need as strong of a resume as he can build to sell teams that he's healthy and in the right place to live up to all this athletic potential. With five sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in eight games thus far for the Hurricanes, Phillips has been able to keep the heat on opposing quarterbacks despite Miami seeing Greg Rousseau opt out of the season before it ever got started.
North Carolina RB Javonte Williams
TDN100 Rank: 56th overall
Williams entered the 2020 college season with career highs of five rushing scores and 934 rushing yards. He's tripled his career high in rushing touchdowns for a single season and should surpass his career high in rushing yards in a single season the next time the Tar Heels take the field. He's been the running back prospect this fall to most take advantage of the void behind the consensus top two backs in Travis Etienne and Najee Harris—and the sky is the limit for him as far as his draft stock goes from here. Will he beat out either of the previously two mentioned backs? Probably not. And given the positional value debate of running backs, he may not hear his name called in the top 40 when it is all said and done. But Williams, with his physical, angry running and low tread, should be considered a second-round lock at this point in time should he declare for the 2021 NFL Draft and make the leap to the pro game. The sample size is big enough between his strong play this year and a smaller but still significant role in 2019 to feel confident that this is a talented runner who can boost someone's ground game in the NFL next fall.