Week Three of the 2019 College Football Season may not have featured any games between ranked opponents, but it did provide plenty of exciting prospects performances. Let’s examine my top standouts from the weekend that was.
Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
In a highly-anticipated showdown with North Carolina, the Surratt-led Demon Deacons made the plays necessary to claim Wake’s third consecutive Friday night win to start the season. Hauling in 9 receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown, Surratt counted for 79 percent of Wake Forest’s 214 passing yards.
Surratt’s just a redshirt-sophomore who de-committed from Harvard in favor of Wake Forest so there’s no guarantee he declares for the 2020 Draft, but his skill set will be coveted whenever he opts to make the leap. His performance against North Carolina was a terrific showcase of his all-around receiving skill set with plays down the field, in contested situations and after the catch.
Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
A top-five talent, Young has been as good as advertised to start the 2019 season and his dominance continued against Indiana. Racking up two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss, Young is already up to five sacks on the season.
A blend of size, length, power, flexibility and burst, Young has a toolbox loaded with traits that has him primed to be a highly impactful NFL pass rusher. While the sacks were outstanding against Indiana, I was really impressed by a tackle for loss he made that required him to re-trace the screen and make a tackle near the numbers. It was a great display of football intelligence, athletic ability and motor for the talented Buckeye defender.
Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
The talent has always been apparent for Arnette but his play in 2017 and 2018 was plagued by inconsistency. In Ohio State’s 51-10 win over Indiana, the good version of Arnette was fully on display, particularly his ball skills. Arnette had two impressive pass breakups before breaking on a pass deep in Ohio State territory, intercepting it and taking it 96 yards for a touchdown. He made another play in the end zone, raking at the football to jar it loose while taking away points from the Hoosiers.
If he keeps making plays on the ball like he did on Saturday, teams will be willing to overlook some of those man coverage blunders.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
In the debate over the valuation of running backs, a critical component for backs to maximize their draft stock is by being as versatile and multifaceted as possible. In the case of Najee Harris, his power elements are undeniable but his receiving skill set was unproven after only catching four passes in 2018 and 10 in his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa.
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s game plan against South Carolina called for Harris to get involved in the passing game and he responded by catching more passes (five) against the Gamecocks than he did in 15 games last season. With 87 receiving yards and two touchdowns to go with 36 yards on the ground, Harris compiled 123 scrimmage yards on just 12 touches. Oh, and he also scored the early favorite for touchdown of the year:
Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
The 2020 crop of wide receivers is loaded with talent and Johnson is among the best, although he gets an underwhelming amount of fanfare coming from Minnesota. It’s been a bit of a slow start to 2019 for Johnson but that narrative changed with his performance in the Gopher’s 35-32 win over Georgia Southern.
Hauling in 10 receptions for 140 yards, Johnson also caught three touchdowns including the game-winner to avoid an upset loss to Georgia Southern. Not only did Johnson showcase his ability to make contested catches, he also took a slant pass 73-yards for a touchdown where his explosiveness was on display. The showing was much-needed for Johnson as the Big 10 conference schedule gets underway after the bye. Here’s that decisive touchdown:
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
Jalen Hurts is still competing with Tua Tagovailoa, just not for the starting quarterback gig at Alabama. This season, they are among the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy and Hurts’ resume is becoming more impressive every week.
Trouncing UCLA 48-14 at the Rose Bowl, Hurts was 15-of-20 passing for 289 yards with three touchdowns while serving as the Sooners’ leading rusher with 14 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown. Hurts has been in total command of Oklahoma’s offense, and skyrocketing up draft boards in the process. Saturday was just the latest example.