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Devy Roundup: Week Eight

We break down some of the top devy performances from another week of college ball.

David Bell

It felt great to have the Big Ten playing and several players announced their returns in big ways. The SEC slate wasn’t as enticing as it had been in recent weeks. It was a quiet week overall as far as big-time matchups and close games. The week felt close to a full schedule of games and it felt good to have a lot of different options.

The biggest story of the weekend was the injury to Alabama’s star receiver Jaylen Waddle. He will miss the season and it could ding his draft stock a little but he is still a potential first-round pick in the 2021 draft.

Check here for all the week eight scores.

Top Devy Performances

Graham Mertz, QB WISCONSIN

Mertz was finally given the reins due to an injury to starter Jack Coan and the redshirt freshman didn’t disappoint. Playing Friday night in the first Big Ten game of the season, all eyes were on the Badgers’ clash with Illinois. Mertz completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns, looking poised and confident in his first collegiate start.

In today’s world, we expect heralded prospects like Mertz to get the ball right out of the gate and when he sat last year he lost some of the luster as a prospect. He was a four-star prospect and the number three pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class. As a 2022 draft-eligible prospect, he was my QB2 coming out of high school. The promising seasons of Kedon Slovis and Sam Howell pushed him down and some have forgotten what Mertz can do. Unfortunately, he tested positive for COVID and we may not see him again for a few weeks.

Justin Fields, QB OHIO STATE

Some quarterbacks have been gaining buzz for the draft like Zach Wilson and Kyle Trask. Fields took the field this week and reminded everyone why he is the number two quarterback in the 2021 draft. He completed 20 of 21 passes for 276 yards and two scores, also rushing for 54 yards and another touchdown. The offense was humming and in mid-season form.

The throw in the clip above is an NFL-caliber heave and hit Garrett Wilson right in stride. Fields has a great arm and the mobility really sets him apart in the class. He isn’t a runner per se, but keeps plays alive so his receivers can get open. Sometimes he holds the ball too long but it’s obviously something which can be worked on. Fields is a great quarterback prospect – he puts on a clinic with efficiency and mobility every game.

Breece Hall, RB IOWA STATE

The week after I declared Jerrion Ealy my 2022 RB1, Hall dropped a reminder as to why he could be the RB1. He continues to carry the Cyclones and did everything he could in the loss to Oklahoma State. Hall had 20 carries for 185 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes and I would really like to see Iowa State get him in space more.

The vision is on display in the clip above although he doesn’t have the breakaway speed to take it to the house. At least he didn’t pull a Daniel Jones and tackle himself. Hall has good power and contact balance, there isn’t the elite speed but he has good enough speed to break longer runs. Hall has caught passes in the past and I want to see the Cyclones involve him more in the passing game to elevate him above Ealy in the 2022 class.

Chuba Hubbard, RB OKLAHOMA STATE

In the same game, Hubbard had a strong game and displayed what he is capable of. He had 25 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown, also catching one pass for 21 yards. Thus far, Hubbard hasn’t looked as spectacular and explosive as he has in the past but I loved the way he looked Saturday. The play speed was faster and smoother – it looked like vintage Hubbard.

This run in the clip is one of the better runs you will see this year. The contact balance, vision, and ability to keep the run moving is absolutely ridiculous. Most backs wouldn’t have made it to the line of scrimmage. Hubbard kept his balance and once he got to the second level, he was gone. The speed to breakaway in the open was on full display and it’s his elite trait. Hubbard is in the mix for RB3 in the 2021 class. You may have missed a buy-low window over the past few games if you wanted to acquire him.

Javonte Williams, RB NORTH CAROLINA

Williams is sharing the backfield with Michael Carter and has looked much better than Carter in my opinion. He led the Tar Heels in their victory over in-state rivals North Carolina State with 19 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Through five games, he has 562 yards with a 6.9 yards per carry average and has scored ten touchdowns on the ground. He has nine receptions for 200 yards and two more scores.

As a junior, he is eligible for the 2021 draft and may opt-in with the running back class being a little thin. Williams has explosion and is a load to bring down. At 5’10” and 220 pounds, he plays like a power back but has balance through contact and enough speed to break away when he hits the open field. The pass-catching ability is there but he isn’t the most developed at running routes and the technical nuances of the pass-catching. Williams is good in pass protection so he wouldn’t be a liability in the NFL. He is an intriguing prospect who could enter the draft next season and could be a second-day pick if he continues to impress.

Javian Hawkins, RB LOUISVILLE

Hawkins has been one of my favorite players to watch this season. Versus Florida State, he ran crazy for 174 yards and three touchdowns on only 16 carries. He put on a clinic and is a danger to break every run for a long touchdown.

The Hubbard run above was a beauty and Hawkins may have one-upped it with this run. He looked like he was stopped and the Seminoles defense was caught flat-footed as he took it the other direction around the end. Once he saw the open green field he turned on the jets and was gone. Hawkins continues to make huge plays and is one of the most dangerous backs in the NCAA. He hasn’t shown much in pass-catching but it doesn’t seem to be a priority in the Louisville offense. He is so smooth and lethal, if he adds or shows he can catch in the offseason or at the combine – Hawkins could see early draft capital and a huge role in the NFL.

David Bell, WR PURDUE

Rondale Moore opted back in but had to miss Purdue’s opener. Bell picked up where he left off last season, catching 13 passes for 121 yards with three touchdowns in the Boilermakers’ win over the Hawkeyes.

A receiver who doesn’t get anywhere near as much love as he should, Bell is a rising sophomore who could stake a legitimate claim on WR1 in the 2022 class. He eclipsed 1,000 yards and scored seven times as a freshman and could easily best those numbers in only eight games. Speed is the biggest void in his game but he does so many things well which make him a dangerous receiver. Bell is smooth, has great hands, adjusts well to the ball, has great balance, and is lethal after the catch. This game may be the start of an even bigger season and his devy stock will continue to rise.

Poor Devy Performances

Tanner Morgan, QB MINNESOTA

Morgan is a quarterback I was really hoping could take a step forward and secure a spot in the second tier of quarterbacks drafted in April. He only completed 18 of his 31 pass attempts for 197 yards with a touchdown and a pick. The numbers weren’t great but it was more the lack of leadership in a game that Minnesota should have won on its home field. The Gophers had some players out and it was the first game but I expected a much better game from Morgan. It is only one game but I want to see more from the junior quarterback.

Marquee Week Eight Matchups

Full schedule HERE

Memphis at #7 Cincinnati 10/31 @ 12:00 P.M. EST

Another fun American Athletic Conference game, this one is for the offense lovers out there. Memphis is playing well and will score in droves behind veteran quarterback Brady White. Sophomore Rodrigues Clark has filled in admirably for the opted-out Kenneth Gainwell. Junior receiver Calvin Austin has been on fire the past few games in the wake of Damonte Coxie’s opting out.

The Bearcats just thumped the sixteenth-ranked SMU team on their home field and are playing exceptional football. They have done it without stars, there is not anyone starting on the offense I am overly excited about from a devy standpoint. But they keep getting it done behind quarterback Desmond Ridder’s leadership.

Texas at #6 Oklahoma State 10/31 @ 4:00 P.M. EST

Iowa State was a big test for the Cowboys but this may be a more dangerous test. The Longhorns are 3-2 and will be rolling into Stillwater playing with a chip on their shoulder. Sam Ehlinger has the numbers but hasn’t played very consistently this season. Running back Keaontay Ingram has been underwhelming and needs to step up or they need to give the rock to freshman Bijan Robinson. Sophomore receiver Joshua Moore has been the top receiving target and gaining some devy buzz.

Oklahoma State is in an unfamiliar position, being in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 title. Each game, teams will be gunning for them and this is a huge test. They travel to Kansas State and Oklahoma the next two games so they can’t let up or look ahead. This team will go as far as devy studs Hubbard and wide receiver Tylan Wallace take them.

#3 Ohio State at #18 Penn State 10/31 @ 7:30 P.M. EST

Penn State suffered a heartbreaking loss to Indiana in their opener so this matchup has lost a little of its luster. The Nittany Lions don’t appear to be anywhere near the level of the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes rolled behind Fields and one of the most talented wide receivers units in all of college football. Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Julian Fleming, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be playing on Sundays. Trey Sermon and Master Teague split carries and neither looked overwhelming – could be a maddening time share this season.

The Penn State offense seemed to struggle to find its rhythm against Indiana and they can’t afford it to happen again this week. Junior quarterback Sean Clifford passed for 238 yards and three touchdowns but threw two interceptions versus Indiana. He was also the leading rusher with 119 yards. Junior Jahan Dotson led the team in receiving last week and Pat Freiermuth is one of the top tight ends in the country – both will be needed to have a chance against Ohio State on Halloween.

The Wrap Up

We are still a few weeks from the return of the Pac-12 and races are really heating up with a few surprise teams asserting themselves early. Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State seem to be almost locked into the final four already. Notre Dame is ranked fourth but plays Clemson in two weeks. Georgia clings on to the fifth spot currently and should move up when Notre Dame falls to the Tigers. Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, and BYU are all undefeated and lurk behind waiting for one of the top five to fall.

Halloween has a really fun slate of games, I wish you all luck in trying to trick your wives into letting you have the treat of watching football while your kids run amok all jacked up on candy. Take care, everyone!

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Devy Roundup: Week Eight
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