Is it really Week 9? Indiana is bowl eligible? Minnesota is 8-0? Where did the season go?
Let’s examine the NFL Draft prospect who helped themselves on Saturday.
Michael Pittman, WR, USC
Pittmans isn’t always the most consistent receiver in terms of producing big games on a weekly basis, but he has proven capable of taking over football games and that is exactly what he did against Colorado on Friday night. Hauling in touchdown receptions of 44 and 37 yards in the fourth quarter, Pittman helped engineer a come-from-behind victory for USC who ultimately won the contest 35-31 after trailing by 10 entering the final quarter. Pittman finished with seven receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
Pittman is a physical receiver with excellent size and ball skills which were all fully on display against the Buffs. He may not be one of the first receivers off the board in April, but performances like this will give teams hope regarding his ability to make plays at the next level.
Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
This column is supposed to be about guys who did something to elevate their draft stock and for Young, he was already widely regarded as the best prospect in the class so he wouldn’t fit the criteria of one of my normal selections. But with that said, he was too dominant against Wisconsin for me to not mention him.
Racking up five tackles for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles, Young was the best football player on the field and is the clear-cut best defensive playmaker in nation. If you had any doubts about Young’s ability, he just wrecked a traditionally outstanding offensive line program in Wisconsin and again proved his game-changing upside in the NFL.
JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
The more I watch Dobbins, the more impressed I get and he torched one college football's best rushing defenses to the tune of 163 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns. Dobbins also added 58 receiving yards on three catches in Ohio State’s 38-7 rout of Wisconsin.
In a showdown with fellow Big Ten star running back Jonathan Taylor, Dobbins racked up 111 more yards on the same amount of carries in the contest. While most of the early season hype was centered around Taylor, he’s slowed down considerably over his last three games and Dobbins is making the better case as the Big Ten’s best runner. Dobbins is looking like a top-50 prospect in the rising class and I love how much he’s improved as a receiver.
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
Nobody told Florida State and Cam Akers that Dino Babers said the Syracuse defense was supposed to be outstanding this season. Akers dashed through the Orange defense, racking up 144 rushing yards on 20 carries with four touchdowns.
2018 was a down year for Akers but he has discovered his form in 2019, showcasing a confident style of running to go with his impressive blend of size, burst and power. Akers’ arrow is point up after struggling last season and performances like the one he cashed in against Syracuse will continue his ascension in a deep running back class.
Vols NFL Hopefuls Shine
It was a rough start to the season for Tennessee but the Vols are playing much better of late and secured a 41-21 win over South Carolina on Saturday. Several NFL hopefuls on the Tennessee side of things had impressive outings.
The most dominant player on the field was WR Jauan Jennings who hauled in seven receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns. He was his usual, physical self but also showcased the ability to win down the field and SC had no answer for him.
WR Marquez Callaway also had 100 yards receiving and a touchdown while also returning a punt 65 yards for a score. Callaway has been known to cash in monster performances and Saturday was a good reminder of how potent a playmaker he is.
LB Daniel Bituli had a game-high 15 tackles including one for loss, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Tennessee held South Carolina to just 78 rushing yards on 30 attempts and the play of Bituli was a big reason why. Bituli also blocked a punt in the game and returned in 29 yards for a touchdown.
Finally, senior pass rusher Darrell Taylor racked up two sacks and two pass breakups, showcasing his ability to pressure the quarterback with explosive burst and relentless effort. He doesn’t get as much hype as some pass rusher in the rising class but he shouldn’t be slept on.
Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Stanford is having a down year and Adebo hasn’t exactly had the season I was hoping for after an outstanding season in 2018. He’s been challenged quite a bit and given up his share of plays. With that said, Saturday’s outing against Arizona was a good reminder of why Adebo is such an appealing talent. In a 41-31 win over Arizona, Adebo hauled in two interceptions as part of a defensive performance that limited Khalil tate to 17 completions on 33 attempts for just 205 yards.
It’s tough to project whether Adebo will declare for the draft, but adding more takeaways to his resume will be helpful for whenever he joins the dance which is exactly what he did on Saturday.
Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pitt
Jones is the best pass rusher in college football that you've never heard of. While Pitt didn't get a win over Miami, Jones continued his dominant year and racked up two more sacks, bringing his total to seven for the season.
Jones has been among the most consistent edge rushers in college football at applying heat on the passer this season and he really knows how to work to the edges of blockers, grease angles and clear contact to finish. His vision to read blockers and attack the pocket most effectively has really shined this season. Get him on your radar and his performance against Miami on Saturday would be a good place to start if you were to dig into his film to get familiar.