It’s here. It’s finally here — believe it or not, the college football season is right around the corner.
Before I write another word, I want to make something clear.
This is not a Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Draft article.
I promise I won’t put a single pen to paper in this capacity until the Jaguars season officially ends, hopefully some time late in the evening on Sunday, February 3rd in Atlanta, Georgia.
Instead, consider this an appetizer for the upcoming college football season with a sample of offensive players who are flying under the radar heading into 2019.
Starting with the quarterbacks, North Dakota State’s Easton Stick is the early favorite as the next small school signal-caller to have a meteoric rise a la Carson Wentz or Josh Allen. Stick has been a team captain since his sophomore season — a feat that Wentz didn’t even accomplish with the Bison.
Stick earned MVP honors as he piloted the team to their sixth FCS title last season and graduated summa cum laude in only three and a half years. Another guy generating some scuttlebutt is Arkansas State’s Justice Hansen, who made a huge jump in completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdown to interception ratio to earn 2017 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year honors.
The running back class looks strong yet again, and an in-state, non-power five back may end up being the first player on many teams draft board by the end of the season. Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary was a bowling ball of butcher knives for Lane Kiffin last season and would be in the Heisman conversation were it not for the level of competition he plays in.
Another under-the-radar guy who scouts are buzzing about is Appalachian State’s Jalin Moore. Moore has led the Sun Belt in rushing for the past two seasons and his 6.1 yards per carry average and 28 career touchdowns makes him an intriguing small school prospect for any NFL team looking for a later round steal to add to their stable.
Wide receiver will have a lot of shuffling throughout the season, but two guys I am higher on than most is Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler and Kansas State’s Dalton Schoen. At 6’6” 219 pounds, Butler will fill in for Allen Lazard as the go-to receiver in the Cyclones offense and should put up some huge production, especially in the red zone. Schoen is this years “Braxton Berrios” of the class based on his underrated athletic ability and effectiveness out of the slot.
A fourth-year junior walk-on and first team academic all-Big 12 selection as a mechanical engineering major, Schoen set the state football single-game receiving record (381 yards), won two basketball state championships, and earned all-district honors in baseball at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Kansas. Also, keep an eye on how quickly Jalen Hurd can acclimate to the wide receiver position at Baylor, as early reports from Waco suggest that Hurd has taken his year off to re-sculpt his physique in the image of Calvin Johnson. According to the school’s strength coach, Hurd is squatting over 500 pounds with a vertical of 40” and has timed in the low 4.4s in the forty-yard dash.
From the tight ends, Stanford’s Kaden Smith and UCLA’s Caleb Wilson are two candidates for a huge glow up this season. Smith has been developing some nice rapport with quarterback KJ Costello and could be the next big-time Stanford tight end to light it up in the NFL. More of a move tight end in the mold of Evan Engram, Wilson will be a huge benefactor in Chip Kelly’s offense this season and could boost his stock if he can stay healthy after an injury cut his 2017 campaign short.
Another name to tuck away under your head is Boston College’s Tommy Sweeney, who may not blow anyone away with his speed, but does everything that comes with playing tight end fairly well.
On the offensive line, this could be the year of the right tackle, which is a good thing considering the current dearth of right tackle talent in the NFL. Wisconsin’s David Edwards, Kansas State’s Dalton Risner, Washington State’s Kaleb McGary and Oklahoma’s Bobby Evans all project to be starting right tackles in the NFL. As solid as the tackles look at this point, the interior offensive line class is nowhere near last year’s embarrassment of riches. Oklahoma has a pair of bullies at guard in Ben Powers and Dru Samia, and Notre Dame’s Sam Mustipher and Indiana’s Nick Linder are two players could shoot up boards with good seasons.
Which offensive players will you be keeping an eye on this season? Let us know in the comments below.