With summer practices wrapped up and just over a week until the season starts, it’s time to start looking towards the college football season. Many stars from last season such as Derrick Henry, Corey Coleman, Ezekiel Elliott, Laquon Treadwell, and Jared Goff have all graduated or left school, leading to much intrigue and excitement for this season. In this series I will go through my personal top 100 teams entering this college football season, and highlight one player to watch from each team. For some teams, they may not be the most well know players (such as Christian McCaffrey on Stanford or Leonard Fournette on LSU), but rather players who could be potential stars this year or later in their career.
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- Duke – Scott Bracey, WR, Freshman
I was planning on writing about quarterback Thomas Sirk, but he unfortunately tore his Achilles and is out for the season. That means I would drop Duke significantly in my rankings as well, and they’d likely be somewhere in the 60-70 range. But, Bracey is a true freshman who will likely start for the Blue Devils from day one. The 6’2”, 200 pound receiver was a four star recruit who was the second highest recruit in Duke history. He played quarterback his senior year of high school, but it sounds as though he has had no issues transitioning back to the receiver position. Bracey should be an intriguing option in a Duke offense that now needs play makers like him more than ever.
- Auburn – Kyle Davis, WR, Freshman
Like Duke, I was initially planning on writing about another player, Jovon Robinson, who I’m a big fan of. But Robinson was just recently kicked off the team, leaving a huge void in the Tigers backfield after Roc Thomas transferred out of the program. Even though Sean White was just named quarterback, he was uninspiring last year and that speaks to how poorly JUCO transfer John Franklin has performed. The only bright spots in the offense may be two incoming freshman receivers, Kyle Davis and Nate Craig Myers. Davis enrolled early and likely has a better shot at contributing this year, so I’ll focus on him. A highly touted four star recruit, he is physically ready to play right away. At 6’2”, 218 pounds, he has a build that I like to see on many receivers entering the NFL. It’s hard to pinpoint a real weakness in his game, but he lacks a single dominating trait that could lead him to success right away. I want to see how he handles press coverage, specifically how he can separate off of it. I wouldn’t expect Davis to put up big raw stats totals because of Auburn’s quarterback situation and their run heavy offense, but I would be shocked if Davis didn’t at least end up on an NFL roster in the coming years.
- Cincinnati – Mike Boone, RB, Junior
While Cincinnati is known for the Bengals and the zoo that once housed Harambe, the city also is home to one of the AAC’s top football team’s. Many were surprised when Hayden Morre was named the starting quarterback over Gunner Kiel, who was the incumbent starter and a highly touted recruit out of high school. With Kiel’s NFL future looking bleak, Mike Boone will be the focus for this team. Even though he was third on the team in rushing attempts, he nearly led the team in yards (28 less than the leader), and led the team in touchdowns. With the graduation of Hosey Williams, who led the team in attempts, Boone should have a more even split with Tion Green this year, and I’d expect him to lead the team in rushing yards and touchdowns. Boone also had the second most receiving yards out of all returning players this season, largely because the Bearcats lost their top six receivers from last year. I’d expect the team to run more this season, and because of that I believe Boone will easily clear the 1,000 yard and ten touchdown mark this year.
- Indiana – Simmie Cobbs, WR, Junior
Indiana has had a nice run of producing running back, with Tevin Coleman being drafted two years ago and Jordan Howard going in round four of this year’s draft. Running back Devine Redding has a shot to continue that streak, but I don’t think he’ll ever have a real impact for an NFL team. On the other hand, wide receiver Simmie Cobbs could easily be a start for an NFL team within a few years. After watching more of Cobbs’ film, I moved him up to my number seven draft eligible receiver, and he could climb even further if he fixes some issues. First off, he has an insane catch radius and made some incredible grabs because of it. At 6’4”, 220 pounds that should be expected, but his leaping ability gives him great range. Even though he made incredible catches, they seemed to be offset by lapses in concentration that were just as incredible. In three games I watched, Cobbs had three drops that should have easily been caught. While I agree with the notion that drops as themselves are sort of meaningless stats, he clearly lacked focus on these plays and needs to clean this up. For such a large player, he is incredibly fluid in the open field, often juking past defenders and using his large frame to break tackles. He’s also a polished route runner, but I’d like to see him improve his separation skills and consistency. He does run a variety of routes which is a plus for a college receiver. Overall, Cobbs has a chance to explode this year and vault up draft boards.
- Arizona State – Demario Richard, RB, Junior
With two talented running backs in Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage, and exciting freshman receiver N’Keal Harry in the fold, the Sun Devils certainly don’t lack playmakers at the skill positions. At 5’10”, 220 pounds, Richard has elite balance for a player his size. He also is a very flexible player that shows good bend. He has pretty good vision, and likely profiles as a one cut and go back in the NFL. His agility is good, as he has the ability to quickly juke a defender and get past him. With a thick frame, Richard obviously has some power to his game, but he’s not a back that looks to initiate contact. His strength is good though, and allows him to break through arm tackles with ease. Richard really excels as a receiver out of the backfield, and I think this will ultimately land him a spot on an NFL roster. I’d prefer if he stays in school another year since next year’s running back class is so loaded, as I think he’ll have a much better chance of being drafted higher in 2018 as opposed to 2017.
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