I've talked about this before, but going into the 2018 college football season I did way more scouting of teams and prospects than I ever had before in preparation for a draft cycle. Not only did I have a better grasp on the big name players, I also knew more players in general. It seemed like when I looked at the college football schedule for Week 1, there were prospect matchups I could have told you about in each game.
That's obviously a good thing for me, as I attempt to do this job as best I can. But, as a college football fan, I was worried I wouldn't have those suprise moments where myself and the rest of the world watched a draft eligible player become almost a household name in one big performance on a random Saturday -- something that might carry them into draft season and all the way to draft weekend.
But, as each Saturday has passed, there have been players -- draft eligible players -- who have caught my attention that I never even noticed before.
This Saturday was no different, and after this weekend, there are three specific names that are well on my radar now, and guys that could really impact the rankings of this draft class moving forward.
Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler
All I can say is: Wow. I'm not sure how I missed Butler going into the season, but you can bet I won't miss at least checking up on him each week of the season from here on out.
In his game versus Oklahoma, Butler had 174 receiving yards on five catches with two touchdowns. He was the Cyclones' go-to man on offense whenever they needed a big play, and did even more than just catch the ball -- what made his day so special is what he did after the catch.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound senior wide receiver had one of the best days of his career against Oklahoma. He showed ideal traits when catching the ball at the high point near the sideline, and showed determination to not just be a guy who is comfortable reeling passes in, but rather, making the most of his opportunities even more after that.
In an already stacked wide receiver class, Butler showcased size and tools to be mentioned as a potential NFL stud.
Auburn LB Deshaun Davis
Auburn has quite a bit of talent in their front seven that gained most of the headlines this summer. Marlon Davidson, Dontavius Russell and Derrick Brown all garnered big praise from the major media outlets as the top players on Auburn's defensive line. But, in a hard-fought battle against LSU, the defensive player that stood out the most, to me, was linebacker Deshaun Davis.
Davis, a 5-foot-11, 230-pound, three-year starter for the Auburn Tigers, let his experience and instincts show out against LSU. While having a career high in tackles during the game with 13, Davis was the first man to pop out on the screen due to his knack for making plays around the ball. In a linebacker class that is somewhat shallow in terms of coveted talent right now at the top, this senior linebacker Davis has a chance to make a name for himself with abilities such as recognition, sure-tackling, and enough athleticism to get the job done.
I'll be watching him the rest of the season with a focus on how athletic he can be as a sideline-to-sideline guy, as well as how natural he can be in coverage. The rest I already like a lot after that LSU game.
TCU RB Darius Anderson
Man, I knew TCU had a couple of nice running backs on their team, but Darius Anderson made sure I knew his name within that group via the performance he had against Ohio State
154 rushing yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns was Anderson's final stat line, and the 93-yard touchdown run was surely the highlight.
At 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, Anderson is a player who really seems to thrive in space. When he could get the ball to the outside, he not only had the speed and the agility to make guys miss, but also the mental processing to know which moves would work well. He has the frame to suggest he could be better between the tackles, but he definitely showed against Ohio State -- tough interior, I know -- that he needs more in that area.
As we continue to search for an RB1 in this class, more games like the one Anderson had against Ohio State could vault his name into a Top 5 among the position conversation.