Week 12 of the college football season is in the books, which means we got another look at the potential stars of next year's NFL draft, as well as future classes. Each week, I'll be picking the players from each power-five conference who stood out the most. Thus, this is the 12th edition of TDN Power 5 Players of the Week.
Offense: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson - 4 catches for 63 yards and 3 TDs
If this was a closer game, Tee Higgins would have had eight touchdowns. Wake Forest senior cornerback Essang Bassey had no answer for Higgins’ size and aggressiveness at the catch point. I’ve said this before, and I will say it again — there is no better WR at the catch point in this 2020 class than Tee Higgins. He proved that in this game with three touchdowns on four catches.
Defense: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, FSU - 11 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT for TD
For the second straight week, Florida State hybrid safety-linebacker Hamsah Nasirildeen takes home ACC defensive player honors. He nearly broke a school record with 22 tackles last week, and on Saturday, he followed that up with 11 more tackles and an 80 yard pick six. Florida State’s lack of success this season as a team has shadowed what’s truly been an elite season for Nasirildeen.
Offense: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin - 25 carries for 204 yards and 2 TDs
Another 200 yard performance for Jonathan Taylor? We might as well name the TDN Big 10 OPOW after him at this point. However, in three career games against Nebraska, 205 rushing yards is his WORST performance against the team. So Taylor’s worst game against Nebraska is another running back’s career-best game. He’s now up to 1,463 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the season.
Defense: AJ Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa - 4 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF
Before this game against Minnesota, AJ Epenesa’s numbers this season were lagging behind his spectacular 10-sack 2018 campaign. He’s been disruptive without the same finishing rate, but he put the latter piece of that formula together on Saturday with 2.5 sacks. Don’t forget about Epenesa as a top EDGE prospect in this class, as I think he has many similarities to DeForest Buckner coming out of Oregon.
Offense: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma - 30/42 for 297 passing yards and 4 TDs - 27 carries for 114 yards
Down 28-3 against Baylor, it looked grim for Jalen Hurts and the Sooners, but the senior quarterback showed incredible poise to bring Oklahoma back and win the game. He made a couple of poor decisions early on, but he didn’t dwell on them. Instead, he put the team on his back and played like a first rounder with his dual-threat skill set.
Defense: Kolby Harvell-Peel, S, Oklahoma State - 3 tackles, 1 QB hurry, 2 INTs
Only a true sophomore, Harvell-Peel is already establishing himself as one of the top ballhawking safeties in the country with five interceptions on the year. If he continues to put up performances like this on tape for scouts, expect his name to surface next summer as a top 2021 safety prospect.
Offense: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU - 8 catches for 227 yards and 3 TDs
Is it too early to call LSU true sophomore Ja’Marr Chase the early favorite for 2021 WR1? I don’t think so. After putting together an elite performance against one of the top corners in the country last week, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, he followed that up with a 200-yard game, along with three touchdowns. They hype on his draft stock next summer will be unreal.
Defense: Jonathan Greenard, EDGE, Florida - 6 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks
Senior edge defender Jonathan Greenard has burst on the scene in 2019, and it has rightfully earned him a trip to the Senior Bowl in January. He proved Jim Nagy and his staff right with another big time performance against SEC competition Saturday. He was in the Missouri backfield all day, finishing the game with *five* tackles for a loss. His pass rush ability has been what’s captured the eyes of scouts this season, but he showed off his run defense value in this game.
Offense: Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State - 44/60 for 520 yards and 5 TDs
You can say all you want that the Washington State scheme inflates Gordon’s numbers, but he’s doing this week after week. He bullied Stanford with his arm in this matchup, and I strongly believe he’s a legit mid-round quarterback prospect in this 2019 class. I’m not going to bet against him when he gets to the league.
Defense: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon - 4 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks
I haven’t seen a true freshman EDGE as talented as Kayvon Thibodeaux in quite some time. He was the top recruit coming out of high school, and that talent just jumps off the screen each time he takes the field. Thibodeaux is going to draw a ton of Jadeveon Clowney comparisons in the coming years.