The theme of this week's standouts is a blend of explosive athletes and others with exceptional play strength. It’s hard to believe we are already across the midway point for the regular season, making each game and prospect performance more meaningful because opportunities to impress and dwindling down.
These are the guys who helped themselves in Week Eight.
Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
After Chase Young, Simmons is arguably the best defensive prospect in the rising class and he is heating up. After another performance littered with splash plays in Clemson’s 45-10 win over Louisville, Simmons has racked up 37 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles and two pass breakups over his last four (4!) games against power five competition this year.
Simmons emerged late last season for Clemson and that is spilling over to 2019. He’s a rare blend of size, speed and length and he’s developing wonderfully in terms of processing skills. This is the type of highly valuable that NFL defenses need to counter today’s wide open offenses that look to create mismatches. Simmons is a neutralizer and matchup eraser.
Tavien Feaster, RB, South Carolina
Buried on the depth chart at Clemson, Feaster transferred to in-state rival South Carolina and is getting more touches than ever before in his career. Logging his second 100-yard rushing performance in the last three weeks, Feaster racked up a career-high 175 yards on 25 carries and scored his third rushing touchdown in the last three weeks.
I spoke with an NFL scout about Feaster last season when he was with Clemson and they stated that he was a much better player than he’s getting a chance to prove with the Tigers. Feaster is listed at 6-foot, 221 pounds and does a terrific job of finding space while squaring his shoulders when taking on contact. He has a durable build and has the power you’d expect for a back of his size. What makes him really interesting though, is how much juice he has for a bigger runner. I’m not forecasting him to be an elite NFL starter, but he is definitely and NFL-caliber runner that should factor into the rotation at the next level. Florida was a good showcase to get a feel for his skill set.
Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
Washington didn’t come out on top of a massive Pac Twelve contest with Oregon, but I certainly came away impressed with the performance of Jacob Eason. The 2020 QB class is loaded with promising passers and Eason is one of the most gifted in the group which was obvious to see on Saturday.
Completing 23-of-30 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns, Eason showcased impressive arm talent and made his share of big time throws. His flashes of accuracy to all levels of the field is really exciting. Maybe he’s the best quarterback prospect in the Conference… it’s a conversation worth having.
Marlon Davidson, EDGE, Auburn
Davidson has been a long-term fixture on the defensive line for Auburn and his performance in the Tiger's 51-10 win over Arkansas is arguably the best of his career. Racking up five tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry, Davidson was the most disruptive force up front for a defensive line that also features Derrick Brown.
Davidson played with excellent power at the point of attack but did a terrific job of clearing contact so that he can finish with consistency. This was a resume game for the Auburn senior.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
With plenty of talented backs on the roster, Georgia has done well to share the wealth in the backfield and not wear down Swift early in the year. With that said, his skill level and talent has not diminished one bit and we were reminded of that on Saturday in Georgia’s 21-0 win over Kentucky.
In a game the featured non-stop rain from start to finish, quarterback Jake Fromm only completed nine passes for 35 yards which left the heavy lifting to Swift and the ground game. Swift responded by carrying the rock 21 times for 179 yards and two touchdowns which fell just seven yards shy of matching his career-high set last year against Auburn. Swift has now logged 100 rushing yards in back-to-back games and is heating up as we reach the midseason mark for 2019.
Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah
The performance of Utah’s defense in its 21-3 victory over Arizona State was sensational. The Utes limited the Sun Devils to just eight first downs, 25 passing yards, 136 total yards and four completions on 25 passing attempts. While several Utah defenders showed out, Bradlee Anae was the star of the show.
Racking up three tackles for loss, three sacks and a pass breakup, Anae played a major role in keeping Arizona State at bay while cashing in his second three-sack outing of the season. After quiet games against Oregon State and Washington State over the last two weeks, Anae reminded everyone what he is capable of by wrecking the ASU offensive line time and time again.
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
You can fit him in your pocket but Hamler’s speed is game-changing which was evident in his performance during Penn State’s 28-21 win over Michigan on Saturday Night. Hamler repeatedly got behind the Wolverine’s secondary, hauling in six passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns. While it’s easy to notice his exceptional burst, Hamler’s ball skills and the ability to adjust to the football were also impressive. He was productive in the return game and carried the football on two occasions for six yards.
While that rushing total won’t cause anyone to turn their head, he showed great toughness when picking up four yards on a third and three with 1:45 left in the ball game with the Nittany Lions protecting just a one-score lead. Hamler battled through contact to make the line to gain.
This was Hamler’s third 100-yard game of the season and he now has seven touchdowns in six games. His draft stock is sizzling.