Just the appetizer of what will be a roller coaster college football campaign, Week 0 provided the jolts and jitters of what’s soon to come. While the rest of the country watched as 22 teams kicked off the regular season, here are a few names that stood out and raised their NFL draft stock during this weekend’s slate of football.
Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
What a 2022 debut it was for Brown, who ran all over the Wyoming defense. 151 yards and two touchdowns looked easy for the former Western Michigan transfer, and he remains a ball-carrier to keep an eye on as we move forward into the season. He’s everything Illini head coach Brett Bielema wants in a bell-cow back and will be the headlining weapon for their offense all season long.
Ryan Hilinski, QB, Northwestern
A former transfer from South Carolina, Hilinski was outstanding in leading Northwestern back against Nebraska. Nearly two-touchdown underdogs, Hilinski orchestrated a 300-plus yard performance with two touchdowns to notch a victory in the win column. After earning the starting nod under center following a competition for snaps during the summer, Hilinski looked poised and confident during the biggest upset of Week 0.
Mike Wright, QB, Vanderbilt
Holy dual-threat! Wright was unstoppable against Hawaii, amassing four total touchdowns that included an 87-yard scamper for six. The Commodores have had little to rally around the last few seasons, but a 63-10 win over the Rainbow Warriors was a nice way to kick off their 2022 campaign.
Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
One of the country’s top wideouts and 2023 NFL Draft prospects, Downs was featured HEAVILY once again in the Tar Heels’ offense. With 12 targets, nine catches, and two touchdowns, it was just another day at the office against Florida A&M.
Malachi Corley, WR, Western Kentucky
A name to watch this fall within one of the country’s most prolific offenses, three of Corley’s five receptions went for touchdowns. 61 receiving yards won’t blow away box score scouts, but Corley is a fluid route-runner that feeds off of teammate Daewood Davis’ success. The two combined for 11 catches, 185 yards, and four trips to paydirt for newly inserted quarterback Austin Reed.
Gurvan Hall Jr., SAF, Utah State
A transfer from Miami, Hall was unbelievable against UCONN. Six sacks in a season is a nice year, but in one game? And as a safety? Look, I get it, UCONN isn’t a blueblood program with NFL pedigree on the offensive line, but give credit when credit is due. Hall deserves a tip of the cap for his ability to wreak havoc along the Huskies’ front on Saturday.
Jeremy Moussa, QB, Florida A&M
A grad transfer from Vanderbilt, Moussa was excellent against the Tar Heels. The offense had little help in the run game which allowed North Carolina to sit comfortably against the pass, but Moussa did a nice job all afternoon long. He threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns against an experienced Carolina secondary.
Grant Dubose, WR, Charlotte
Dubose is on my radar. At 6-foot-3, he checks a lot of boxes on the outside and has made it a habit of taking passes for six stemming back to last fall. The 49ers’ top pass-catcher, he amassed 892 yards in 2021 and looks primed to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau while becoming a name to watch for NFL scouts.
Doug Brumfield, QB, UNLV
A southpaw, Brumfield was nearly perfect against FCS opponent Idaho State. Going 21-of-25 for 356 yards and four touchdowns is about as nice a day as you could have and has set a nice foundation for what could be his breakout year for the Runnin’ Rebels.
Other standouts not eligible for 2023 NFL Draft:
Nathan Carter, RB, UCONN
The leader of the Huskies offense, Carter was lightning in a bottle against Utah State. 190 yards on nearly 10 yards a pop will more than do the job. And as someone that ran for 123 against Vanderbilt last fall, he has proven he can compete at the highest level of college football.
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
What a debut it was for the redshirt freshman out of Huntersville, NC. In the first game post-Sam Howell for North Carolina, their offense looked to have picked up right where it left off, hanging 56 on the Rattlers. Forget his five touchdown passes, Maye was accurate, on time, and looked extremely comfortable completing 29 of his 37 attempts. He’ll be a fun study these next few seasons.