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Titans Fan Guide: Showdown Saturday Holiday Edition

NCAA Football: Alabama at Louisiana State
Mack Wilson. He’s pretty #good
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Several key rivalry games dot the playoff map as the holiday weekend continues. Which prospects will step up?

#4 Michigan at #10 Ohio State NOON FOX

“The Game”

- The rivalry game with the most playoff implications riding on it. Win and into the Big Ten title game for the winner. The Buckeyes have been struggling as of late, almost losing to Maryland last week. Michigan comes in as one of the hottest teams in the nation. Can the Buckeyes keep it going against the school up north? Michigan RB Karan Higdon is now in the pantheon of infamous Wolverines for guaranteeing a victory this week.

Michigan prospects to watch

1. Rashan Gary 6’4 281 DL Junior

- Gary was the number one ranked recruit in his class. He’s a beast inside. One of the best defensive tackles in the country in a really loaded draft eligible class. The medical will be interesting as he’s missed several games this season due to injury. Has had a really nice 2018 season with a stat line of 33 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

2. Devin Bush, Jr 5’11 222 LB Junior

- Bush is a force to be reckoned with in both the middle and outside. He’s undersized for the position but is very fundamentally sound. A bowling ball of energy. The leading tackler for the Wolverines with 60 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

3. Karan Higdon 5’9 190 RB Senior

- One of the more underrated running back prospects in the nation. Has had a decent senior year thus far. He’s a solid threat to score from anywhere on the field but prefers to grind away on tough carries. Not the most experienced as a senior. Size questions will abound at the next level. Has 209 carries for 1106 yards and 10 touchdowns.

4. Chase Winovich 6’3 253 EDGE RS Senior

- He’s one of the better edge rushers that no one talks about. A relentless worker that won’t quit until the echo of the whistle. A load to handle for offensive tackles. He may be limited athletically but he just doesn’t stop working to get the sack. He’s third on the team with 48 tackles and third in sacks with 4. He has a Senior Bowl invite.

Ohio State prospects to watch

1. Dre’Mont Jones 6’2 295 DL RS Junior

- A disruptive force in the interior of the defensive line. Pass rush ability is a plus. Holds up well at the point of attack. Lateral agility is among the best in the country. Fundamentally sound as most Buckeye DL are under the tutelage of Larry Johnson, Sr.

2. Dwayne Haskins 6’2 214 QB RS Sophomore

- A legit Heisman contender that has faded some this year due to injury and inconsistency. A plus arm. Inexperience will show at times with some silly throws. A much better passer than JT Barrett. A pocket passer that has posted a 69% completion rate and 3,685 yards with 36 touchdowns. A smaller version of Cam Newton in the rushing game as he’s only rushed when needed to.

3. Isaiah Prince 6’6 310 OT Senior

- The man in charge of blocking the blind side for Mr. Haskins. Is one of the better tackle prospects in the country that no one talks about. Shows a remarkable ability in the short areas. Footwork is not a plus nor a negative either. Middle round type that could develop into a starter at the next level.

4. Parris Campbell 6’0 208 WR Senior

- Solid athlete that should test well at the Combine. The Buckeyes’ leader in the relatively untested receiver room. A deep threat that can run some routes pretty well. Developed into a star as a senior thus far. The Buckeyes leading receiver in terms of receptions with 66 for 711 yards and nine touchdowns.

5. K.J. Hill 6’0 198 WR RS Junior

- The Buckeyes’ leading receiver in terms of yardage with 772 on 62 receptions. Possibly the best athlete in the receiver room in Columbus. Lateral agility is a major plus as he can cut on a dime. Growing route runner but still not there yet.

6. Terry McLaurin 6’0 205 WR Senior

- He’s a big play specialist that Haskins uses to get the chunk plays. Averaging a whopping 19 per catch on just 30 receptions and nine touchdowns. A plus athlete that can go up and get when necessary.

#11 Florida at Florida State NOON ABC

“The Sunshine Showdown”

- Florida State badly needs to keep the streak alive against the hated Gators to reach bowl eligibility after beating Boston College last week on a last second TD. Florida has clinched third spot in the SEC East. They would like nothing more than to be the ones to end FSU’s decades long bowl streak.

Florida prospects to watch

1. Jachai Polite 6’2 260 EDGE Junior

- Polite has been a major surprise for the resurgent Gators defense. He’s rising up the boards rapidly in 2018. Athleticism is a major plus. Fundamentally raw as he is relatively inexperienced as a junior. Improving every week as he gains experience. He leads the team in sacks with 8.5 and is seventh in tackles with 37.

2. Van Jefferson 6’1 195 WR RS Junior

- Jefferson is a familiar face in the SEC as he transferred from Ole Miss and was given immediate eligibility to play by the NCAA due to scandal. He’s a solid receiver prospect that is likely to go pro. The Gators’ main receiving weapon. Leads the team with 27 catches for 347 yards and five touchdowns.

3. Martez Ivey 6’5 315 OL Senior

- Ivey is finally a senior this season after starting as a freshman. He currently starts as a tackle for Florida but profiles better as a guard at the next level.

4. Jabari Zuniga 6’3 246 EDGE RS Junior

- Zuniga doesn’t get talked about a lot in the deep edge class but he has immense talent. Has a lot of athleticism in a herky jerky way. A pass rush talent that go up the field in a hurry. Lateral agility isn’t the greatest but he hasn’t been asked to do that much. Has 5.5 sacks.

5. Vosean Joseph 6’0 227 LB Junior

- Joseph is a fearsome hitter that has been ejected for targeting several times. Started out as a defensive back but moved up a level to linebacker. Undersized for the role but he makes it work. Look out for him as he will level an offensive player with 0 hesitation.

Florida State prospects to watch

1. Brian Burns 6’5 231 EDGE Junior

- Burns has been one of the premier EDGE defenders in the country for the past two years. A long and lanky defender that could add some weight. A pass rush terror when he’s on. He has ten sacks on the season thus far. He’s one of the best athletes at the position and is near 100% lock to go pro as a junior.

2. Donatvious Jackson 6’3 227 LB Junior

- Jackson has made impressive leaps in improvement as a junior leading the young defense through some major growing pains. He’s a big hitter that sets the tone. Can cover sideline to sideline. The fearless defensive general is second on the team with 69 tackles.

Auburn at #1 Alabama 3:30 PM CBS

“The Iron Bowl”

- The preeminent rivalry in the South doesn’t have a lot riding on it this year as Auburn has struggled and the Tide rolling onto bigger things next week. Auburn did pull the upset last year so Bama will be looking for revenge. The state of Alabama shuts down for this one. Could be a good test before Bama marches into Atlanta next week.

Auburn prospects to watch

1. Jarrett Stidham 6’2 214 QB RS Junior

- He has a lot of arm talent and can make virtually any throw asked of him. Physically looks the part. The biggest flaw is the program that he chose. Auburn’s offensive system is very poor in terms of development for the next level. He has regressed in 2018 and has reverted to being Blaine Gabbert 2.0 in terms of pocket awareness. He has struggled mightily.

2. Derrick Brown 6’5 325 DL Junior

- He lives in the opponents’ backfield every game. One of the best interior linemen in the SEC. Academics are on point as he’s been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll every year. Could be one of the more underrated DL prospects due to the talent in the class.

3. Marlon Davidson 6’2 282 EDGE Junior

- Auburn’s best edge rusher. Fundamentally sound and uses every ounce of his athletic ability on every snap. Frequently holds up in the wash so he can make the play. Frame is a plus. Work ethic is a plus as well.

4. Deshaun Davis 5’11 246 LB RS Senior

- Davis is the field general type of leader for the underrated Tigers defense. He won’t wow anyone physically but his IQ and instincts just pop off the tape that I’ve watched. Almost always right on top of the play. It will be interesting if he can keep up with the frenetic Bama offense. Auburn’s leading tackler with 98.

Alabama prospects to watch

1. Quinnen Williams 6’3 285 DL RS Sophomore

- Another week, another dominant performance. Q is that dude this year. He’s been making a run at being the best defensive tackle in the country. Has a bevy of pass rush moves in his arsenal. Holds up well in the point of attack. The third leading tackler on the team with 55 to go along with 6 sacks, which is just absurd for a defensive tackle.

2. Jonah Williams 6’5 301 OT Junior

- The best tackle prospect in the nation. The franchise at left tackle. Footwork and anchor are elite. Technician. Has the prerequisite size and strength to make it to the next level. Should come out as a junior. Nothing more to see here, folks.

3. Isaiah Buggs 6’4 292 DL Senior

- The next guy up in the defensive trenches. He had an outstanding junior campaign in 2017 and has been impressive this year thus far. Raekwon Davis rightly gets all the attention but Buggs deserves some press as well. He’s seriously talented and should be a first round pick. Buggs is the team team leader in sacks with 9.5.

4. Mack Wilson 6’0 231 LB Junior

- There has been 0 drop off in talent replacing current Titan Rashaan Evans. In fact, Wilson could be better. Can play both outside and inside but I see him sticking outside at the next level. Fourth on the team in tackles with 52.

5. Deionte Thompson 6’2 194 S RS Junior

- The “veteran” leader for the inexperienced Tide secondary. The next man up to take his star turn in the vaunted Crimson Tide secondary lore. He’s an athletic marvel at the position despite some growing pains learning on the fly. Instincts are developing but are nearly there. Has had some injury issues, missing a couple of games as a result. The second leading tackler on the team with 58.

Arizona State at Arizona 3:30 PM FS1

“The Territorial Cup”

- Not much to play for except annual bragging rights after ASU coughed up the opportunity to win the Pac-12 South last week. This one features two new head coaches on vastly different trajectories. Can the Wildcats right the ship and steal back the Cup against Herm Edwards’ sunny lot?

Arizona State prospects to watch

1. N’Keal Harry 6’3 216 WR Junior

- Harry is the WR1 in this year’s class, no questions asked. This is true especially after Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf went down with a neck injury. Harry is a big physical target for the Sun Devils and should warrant all the attention. He has made several highlight reel catches so far. The physical measurements are elite.

2. Casey Tucker 6’6 315 OL RS Senior

- Tucker is a graduate from Stanford and subsequently transferred to Arizona State using the graduate transfer rule so the Cardinal couldn’t block the move. He’s one of the better tackle prospects in the conference. Solid in run blocking. Could rise as the offseason approaches. Has played both guard and tackle but mainly guard this season.

Arizona prospects to watch

1. J.J Taylor 5’6 180 RB RS Sophomore

- Taylor is having an interesting season as he is the second leading rusher in the conference with 817 yards and 4 touchdowns. His size will be a question throughout the process should he choose to declare. Could be a specialist at the next level. Similar build to long time NFL veteran RB / Special Teams ace Darren Sproles.

2. Shawn Poindexter 6’5 212 WR Senior

- Poindexter has weirdly turned into the Wildcats’ big play specialist with a massive 18.3 yards per catch and 10 touchdowns. He has the height and weight thing down but the speed is a little questionable from the games I’ve watched.

South Carolina at #2 Clemson 7 PM ESPN

“Palmetto Bowl”

- The Tigers should take care of business against the rival Gamecocks but they are one wrong injury / bad half from losing it. South Carolina has finished fourth in the SEC East and will go bowling. Clemson has won four straight in this rivalry after losing five straight the preceding half decade.

South Carolina prospects to watch

1. Deebo Samuel 5’11 215 WR RS Senior

- Deebo is one of the most dynamic athletes at receiver in the nation. He’s South Carolina’s version of Percy Harvin. A do it all weapon for the Gamecocks that also returns kicks. Above average route runner. Quicker than fast. A guy who is willing to out tough the defender for a contested ball despite being 5’11. Profiles similarly to Kendall Wright.

2. Bryan Edwards 6’2 205 WR Junior

- One of the best receivers in the SEC that hardly anyone talks about due to his teammate Samuel. He’s a physical force of nature that can go up and get it. A solid athlete that can stretch defenses vertically if needed.

Clemson prospects to watch

1. Dexter Lawrence 6’4 340 DT Junior

- Lawrence is a notch below Ed Oliver but is a talented prospect that has supreme athleticism and has been tutored by one of the best defensive coordinators in college football. He has disappeared to the point that it would be wise to return for a senior season to showcase that he can be the man.

2. Christian Wilkins 6’4 300 DT Senior

- The anchor of the vaunted Tigers defensive line. A former five star recruit that developed nicely. An athletic force at the defensive tackle position. Has experience playing edge rusher at times.

3. Clelin Ferrell 6’5 260 EDGE Junior

- Ferrell could be the best of the bunch. He’s one of the best edge rushers in the entire class, let alone the ACC. Fundamentally sound. Knows what he’s doing with an impressive array of moves. Frame is a major plus. He has 10.5 sacks, which lead the team.

4. Kendall Joseph 6’0 225 LB RS Senior

- Joseph is a talent that had to wait a while before his career got going due to the talent in front of him. He’s an excellent athlete that cover in space. While he gets to benefit from having a monster line to work with, he’s very sharp. Fits what modern defenses look for physically. The team leader in tackles with 65.

Kentucky at Louisville 7 PM ESPN2

“Governor’s Cup”

- The traditionally basketball mad state of Kentucky will decide its fortunes on the football field once more. The Wildcats finished a respectable second in the SEC East while Louisville was bad this season. Louisville has won five of the past seven meetings between the two.

Kentucky prospects to watch

1. Benny Snell 5’10 223 RB Junior

- Snell is probably the most underrated running back in the country due to the depth of the class and the program he plays for. A physical power back that can pound the rock at least 30 times without fatigue. Pass blocking is a plus. Vision and IQ are a plus as well. Rarely has yards for loss on his resume.

2. Josh Allen 6’4 230 EDGE Senior

- He’s a pretty good athlete for the position and should test well. Flashed a ton of potential over the past few weeks. Can set the edge and play the run well. Not the most fundamentally sound but is improving. He needs to bulk up to play on the line in the NFL. He leads the team in tackles and in sacks with 80 and 13 respectively. A monstrous senior season.

3. Mike Edwards 5’11 200 S Senior

- Could be one of the top safety prospects in the country. I haven’t seen him much but when I do watch Kentucky, he really shows up. Football IQ is up there. Instinctive safety that can bait QBs into throwing his direction. A willing run defender who doesn’t shy away from contact as evidenced by his tackling numbers (75, 9.5 for loss).

Louisville prospect to watch

1. Jaylen Smith 6’4 223 WR Senior

The Cardinals’ leading receiver.Excellent route runner who is technically sound and just knows how to get open. Could be a mid round draft pick if things break right for him. Teams will fall in love with his measureables.

Kansas State at #25 Iowa State 7 PM FS1

- KSU needs a win over the Cyclones to gain bowl eligibility in what could be legendary coach Bill Snyder’s last season. Iowa State needs a win to gain third place over West Virginia thanks to head to head victory.

Kansas State prospect to watch

1. Dalton Risner 6’5 308 OT Senior

- Risner is one of the best offensive tackles in the nation that hardly anyone talks about due to the program. He’s seriously talented. Has an invite to the Senior Bowl.

Iowa State prospects to watch

1. David Montgomery 5’11 216 RB Junior

- Montgomery could be the best running back in the class. He has elite footwork in both the run and pass game. Can make defenders miss with regularity. Not afraid to mix it up and run through defenses to get those extra yards. One cut and go. Lateral agility is a major plus. Speed is a question as he doesn’t really run away from defenders. Decent route runner.

2. Hakeem Butler 6’6 225 WR RS Junior

- He’s been a monster this season, living off of jump balls and yards after the catch. A physical freak that can make every catch in the book. Pretty solid run blocker. He’s in contention for WR3 honors.

#3 Notre Dame at USC 8 PM ABC

“The Battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh”

- ND needs to win and hope that they stay in the race for the playoff. USC has struggled this season and needs a win to go bowling. The Trojans are coming off a loss to lowly crosstown rival UCLA last week while ND dominated Syracuse at Yankee Stadium. When both teams are on, this is one of the premier rivalries in college football.

Notre Dame prospect to watch

1. Jerry Tillery 6’5 306 DL Senior

- Tillery has been an impact defender for the resurgent Irish defense. The man in the middle that dominates in the interior offensive linemen. Standout senior. Athleticism is underrated. Won’t be the first guy off the board but will likely have a long career in the league.

USC prospects to watch

1. Cameron Smith 6’1 250 LB Senior

- Smith is finally a senior after what seems like a lengthy career in LA. One of the best inside linebackers in the class. Football IQ is a plus. Athleticism is a plus as well. The medical history isn’t a good one to say the least. He missed a ton of time with a knee injury during his career. The heartbeat of the Trojans defense. The medical will be a key with him.

2. Iman Marshall 6’0 205 Senior USC

- Athleticism is a huge plus. Work ethic and character are pluses as well. Has the speed and agility to keep up with the fastest receivers. He’s been inconsistent thus far in his career. Maturity is an issue. Teams will question his desire to play football as he has a music career as a side thing.

3. Marvell Tell 6’2 195 S Senior

- Tell is one of the best safety prospects in the conference that has some pretty solid talent. His game is better suited at box safety than as a pass defender. Physical presence at the point of attack. Fundamentals are somewhat there but very inconsistent.

Bonus games to watch

Baylor at Texas Tech NOON FS1

- Former Vol Jalen Hurd has been making noise for the Bears.

#24 Pittsburgh at Miami 3:30 PM ABC

- Watch for Pitt RB Qadree Ollison and Miami DL Gerald Willis. They are good.

BYU at #17 Utah 10 PM FS1

- “The Holy War” may not be the most competitive lately but it’s still a rivalry nonetheless.

Where are the Titans sending their scouts?