In watching college football games this weekend with an eye towards the NFL Draft, it was encouraging to see so many prominent names who were previously quiet this season put together stand out performances. Many of those are detailed below, along with the other prospects who caught my eye in a way that elevated their respective draft stock in Week Five:
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
It wasn’t exactly the monster breakout game many were hoping Benjamin to have in terms of yards, but Benjamin’s 29 rushes for 100 yards and two receptions for 14 yards were critical in the Sun Devils' road win over a hot Cal team on Friday night. Benjamin scored three rushing touchdowns and kept Arizona State’s offense on schedule to pull off the upset.
Benjamin has a chance to be among the top five running backs drafted in April and his performance against a tough Cal defense could give him some momentum as we approach mid-season.
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Entering Saturday with just nine receptions over the first three games of the season, it was only a matter of time before Lamb had a monster game and it happened against Texas Tech on Saturday. Hauling in seven receptions for 185 yards, Lamb found the endzone on three occasions and propelled the Sooners to a 55-16 victory over the Red Raiders to log OU’s first Big 12 win of the year.
Lamb got loose all over the Tech secondary, making big plays and showing off his ball skills that always impress. He also moved from ninth to seventh in Oklahoma history for receiving yards with his performance on Saturday.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
My goodness what a game and season Hurts is putting together. Only playing in three quarters of the Sooners 55-16 win over Texas Tech, Hurts completed 17-of-24 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns while adding 70 rushing yards on nine rushes and a touchdowns.
Hurts continues to show tremendous command of Lincoln Riley’s offense but this outing was a wonderful showcase of his ability to work progressions and throw the football accurately down the field. HIs touch and spot throws against Tech were a thing of beauty. Hurts is gaining steam as a Heisman Trophy favorite but more importantly, his draft stock is rocketing up.
Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
Gallimore is a rare specimen and that was evident watching him bulldoze through the Texas Tech offensive line on Saturday as the Sooners claimed a 55-16 victory. The 300-pound Gallimore played with exceptional effort and power en route to racking up three tackles, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. While those numbers may not turn your head, the traits he showcased in this game certainly should.
The interior defensive line class hasn’t widely been considered a strong group but Gallimore has the makeup of an exciting prospect. Criticized for its poor defense in recent years, the Sooners’ defense has now held its last three opponents under 20 points. Gallimore is a big reason why.
Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
There is plenty of hype surrounding the Alabama wide receiver corps, but most of that is centered Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs. While they deserve plenty of hype, Smith cannot be overlooked as a high quality prospect in his own right and he just had the greatest receiving day in the history of Crimson Tide pass catchers.
In the Tide’s 59-31 rout of Ole Miss, Smith had 11 catches for school records of 274 yards and five touchdowns. Known for being the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown in the national title game against Georgia two seasons ago, Smith now finds himself in Alabama’s record books. Those 274 receiving yards was sixth-most in SEC history.
Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
Okwara was a buzzy name entering the season but with only four tackles across Notre Dame’s first three games, there has been some sizzle. Not anymore after the talented pass rusher wrecked the Virginia offensive line compiling, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries.
Virginia had the lead and hung around into the second half, but the dynamic playmaking ability of Okwara changed the narrative of the game. This is the type of performance that can catapult Okwara the rest of the way and solidify his status as a first round prospect.
Jeffery Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The only thing missing from Okudah’s tape resume was ball production and with three interceptions over his last two games including two in Ohio State’s 48-7 rout over Nebraska, those questions have emphatically been answered.
Okudah has been dominant in coverage this season, showcasing rapid feet, fluid hips and outstanding pattern-matching ability while his physicality and tackling has also been strong. Now, the big plays on the ball are piling up and Okudah is positioning himself to be the first corner off the board in April.
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
A redshirt sophomore, Hubbard is making noise early this season as a workhorse back for Oklahoma State. Carrying the rock 25 times in the Cowboy’s 26-13 win over Kansas State, Hubbard racked up 296 rushing yards and a touchdown while averaging a ridiculous 11.8 yards per carry. This is the fourth time in five games this season that Hubbard has over 25 carries after 37 against Texas, 26 in the Oregon State game and 32 against Tulsa.
Hubbard is commanding touches and he’s producing in a big way. This is his third 200-yard rushing day and fourth multi-touchdown performance of the season. Hubbard is having a monster year.