#20 USC at #7 Stanford 7:45 PM ESPN
Pac-12 Championship presented by Dr. Pepper
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA (home of the 49ers)
- The Pac-12 title game is a rematch from earlier in the season in which Stanford won 41-31 in a thrilling affair. USC won the right to represent the South after defeating UCLA by virtue of beating Utah head to head even though the Utes had a better record. The Trojans also named Clay Helton their full time head coach after a 5-2 stint as the interim. Stanford defeated rival Notre Dame in a closely fought 38-36 contest last week. The Cardinal need a win and utter chaos to reign (i.e. Florida and UNC upsets) to have a shot at making the playoffs.
USC prospects to watch
Cody Kessler 6’1 215 QB RS Senior
- Kessler is the presumptive favorite for the 2015 Heisman as of this writing. He’s limited athletically as a prospect but is more of a game manager type. Pocket awareness is above average as well as footwork. Arm strength is a concern as he lacks it to make the big league throws to the outside. Needs a great finish to 2015 to even merit consideration in the fourth round. I'd have him borderline 7th/UDFA based on his production so far and what I've seen on tape.
Su’a Cravens 6’1 225 OLB Junior
- Cravens is arguably the best defender in the Pac-12. Position versatile as he originally started out at safety before converting to linebacker last year. Athleticism is very good as the hips are fluid and footwork is impressive. Instincts are great as well. Finds the hole in the offensive scheme and attacks it. Pass defense is underrated as he shows an uncanny ability to always find the ball.
Adoree' Jackson 5'11 185 ATH Sophomore (2017)
- Jackson is a dynamic athlete that has played both corner and receiver in addition to returned duties this year for the Trojans. He's an explosive athlete with the ball in his hands in the mold of a DeSean Jackson (no relation). A capable receiver but a talented cornerback that has lived up to his five star billing and then some. Still learning how to run routes consistently but that's expected for a part time corner. A special weapon as a returner. Good hands and elite ball skills. If he keeps his progress up into 2016, expect him to be a first round pick in 2017.
Stanford prospects to watch
Kevin Hogan 6'4 225 QB RS Senior
- Hogan possesses an above average arm that will get him places in the NFL but needs to work on becoming more consistently accurate. He has some ability to land those critical "touch" passes and has really improved in that area so far this year outside of the opener where he was horrendous all around. A better athlete than most will give him credit for. Pocket awareness isn't as ideal since he hasn't had to deal with a "busy" pocket since the Stanford OL has been good so far. At this point in the year, Hogan is my third best quarterback on the board in a very weak class. Needs to show out during the offseason draft circuit to sneak into the early rounds.
Aziz Shittu 6'3 279 DE Senior
- He was named to the All Pac-12 first team, which is a considerable accomplishment given the talent in the conference at his position. Possesses good fundamentals as a run stopper, having a good tackle form and ball skills. Solid pass rusher although stats don't bear that out. Not the best athlete but fundamentals is one of the more impressive attributes in his game. It allows him to get by with less than ideal physical tools. A pure 4-3 end prospect at this point.
#5 Michigan State at #4 Iowa 8 PM FOX
Big Ten Championship
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
- The title game with the biggest playoff implications. Michigan State didn't let up on Penn State (55-14) after the upset win over the Buckeyes. Iowa defeated Nebraska in typical Iowa fashion (a close grind em out style) 28-20. Iowa are only one of two undefeated teams in the entire country. Some say that's due to their soft schedule but a win is a win, no matter the opponent. Look for Sparty to pull off the "upset" in Indy. It's been reported that the loser might not get an invite to the Rose Bowl (the traditional landing spot for Big Ten winners and second place teams).
Michigan State prospect to watch
Connor Cook 6'4 220 QB Redshirt Senior
- Cook is the second or third best QB prospect in the nation. He's more than experienced as a RS Senior. Has an above average arm talent but is very scattershot in consistency. He reads the field very well and will take what is given to him in most cases. However, he has a tendency to rely on his arm too much, which leads to a severe breakdown in mechanics. Best case scenario is Jay Cutler without the on and off field antics.
Shilique Calhoun 6'5 252 DE Redshirt Senior
- A dominant force for the Spartans for two years now. He's improved his fundamentals in 2015. Projected to be a first rounder in 2015, 2016 shouldn't be any different. Pass rush arsenal has grown considerably. Very good usage of hands and arms to keep the blocker at bay. A sound tackler in the run game. Ball skills have progressed. Above average speed game. One of the best pure 4-3 end prospects in the country.
Jack Conklin 6'6 318 OT RS Junior
- Conklin has challenged Taylor Decker as the best tackle prospect all year long. He's very fundamentally sound in both the run and pass. Has more of a guard's game than a tackle's. Strength is a huge asset. Hand usage needs a little more improvement. Footwork is one of the better tools in his arsenal. Football IQ is very good. Second level blocking leaves something to be desired as he isn't the best athlete. Has franchise left tackle ability but projects more of a right tackle/guard skills
#10 UNC at #1 Clemson 8 PM ABC
Dr. Pepper ACC Championship
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
- Can the Tar Heels pull off the upset over the top ranked Tigers and throw an entire nation into chaos? North Carolina has no shot at the playoff due to its soft schedule and that hideous loss to a terrible South Carolina team in the opener. Clemson can secure at least the 2 seed if they hold serve and Alabama dominate as expected to get the 1 seed. The Tigers had a bit of a struggle with those aforementioned Gamecocks, beating them 38-32. UNC handled North Carolina State in a closer than it appears type of game 45-34 win. UNC has a shot at upending the Tigers but Clemson holds their nerve to the end despite a game Heels squad.
UNC Prospects to watch:
Ryan Switzer WR 5’10 185 Junior
- The last name may sound familiar as Ryan is the grandson of legendary Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry. Switzer is purely a slot receiver and return man in the mold of a Wes Welker as he lacks ideal measurables for the NFL. He has several return touchdowns in his career. Has played both inside and outside receiver positions. It’s highly probable that he stays for his senior season.
Landon Turner OG 6’3 325 RS Senior
- A massive road grader type of guard who needs to refine the technical aspects of his game. Has a good base and lower body strength. Turner’s hand usage is subpar in that he relies too much on his strength. He could be the top senior guard off the board in 2016.
Marquise Williams 6'2 225 QB RS Senior
- Williams might be one of the more underrated quarterback prospects in the draft. He has above average arm strength and is a better athlete than people give him credit for. However, his injury history is a little scary. Inconsistency is an issue as well. Runs Larry Fedora's spread system to perfection.
Clemson prospects to watch
Mackensie Alexander 5’11 185 CB RS Sophomore
- Alexander is the second best corner in the conference. He boldly claimed that he was the best corner in the ACC and he just might have the skills to back it up. Fundamentally sound and is very coachable. Athleticism is above average as well. However, Alexander is old for a RS Sophomore at 22 years old.
Jayron Kearse 6’4 205 S Junior
- Kearse is one of the top safeties in the ACC, if not the entire country. Athleticism is off the charts good but he needs to work on fundamentals. Very inexperienced with only 17 career starts. Needs an NFL strength and conditioning program desperately as frame cannot hold up for 16+ games as presently constituted. NFL bloodlines are impressive as any prospect in this year’s class. He’s a cousin of former Miami Hurricane DB Phillip Buchanon (who had a good career with the storied early 2000s Canes teams). The last name should be very familiar to Titans fans as he’s the nephew of former Titans standout pass rusher Jevon Kearse.
Shaq Lawson 6'3 270 DE RS Junior
- Vic Beasley who? Lawson has more than capably replaced Beasley as his replacement in 2015. Lawson possesses more of a brute strength game rather than a explosive athletic ability one. He has very solid fundamentals and is well schooled in tackling the right way. Has the strength to toss aside the blocker and a high motor. Footwork despite his athletic limitations is above average. Doesn't have that explosive first step like a Joey Bosa but will constantly outwork the blocker. Ball skills are good. Discipline and football IQ are very good. Doesn't abandon his gap assignment to go hunting for glory stats like sacks and tackles for losses. Has the talent to be a first round pick should he declare.