Prospect Watch: Tyler Lockett drawing comparisons to Devin Hester
Believe it or not, college football's bowl games start a mere two months from this coming Monday. (There are five games on that first day of postseason action, Dec. 20, by the way.)
In other words, the 2014-15 season is about to start its turn for home.
But first and foremost, another intriguing Saturday awaits. Here are five potential 2015 draft prospects to track this weekend:
1. Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State (at Oklahoma, 12 p.m. ET): Hands down, Lockett (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) is one of the most exciting players in college football. He won the Big 12's Special Teams Player of the Week honor two games ago after returning a punt 58 yards for a touchdown and averaging 28.6 yards on four returns. In the Wildcats' last game, he caught 12 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
But that's nowhere near the stat line he racked up against Oklahoma last year: 12 grabs, 278 yards and three touchdowns.
"Tyler puts pressure on every secondary," Sooners head coach Bob Stoops said. "Every week, you watch him and he’s making plays, so you have to be aware of where he’s at and what your coverage responsibilities are."
Lockett's NFL prospects will be limited by his size. A few costly drops here and there won't help either -- against Auburn, he turned a touchdown into an interception by failing to corral the football. Out of the slot and especially in the return game, though, Lockett has enough juice to impress an NFL team. He may not be Devin Hester, but the overall package is similar.
2. Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana (vs. Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. ET): Did you know that Coleman is leading the nation in rushing right now? It's true. The Hoosiers' junior has piled up 1,060 yards already this season, including 219 and three touchdowns at Iowa last Saturday. Coleman has yet to finish a game with fewer than 122 yards rushing.
Michigan State could put an end to that streak. The Spartans' defense held another Big Ten running back star, Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, to just 45 yards in 24 carried a couple weeks back. Indiana will be without its top two quarterbacks, as well, so Coleman (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) figures to draw even more attention.
However, even in that situation, he's dangerous because of his home-run potential. Currently rocking an incredible 8.8 yards-per-carry average, Coleman's performances often have a little Barry Sanders to them: one yards, minus-two yards, zero yards, an 80-yard touchdown. That's how he hurt the Hawkeyes.
If he gets into the open field, it usually doesn't matter which team Coleman is playing -- he can break away from anyone. Rotoworld actually referred to him as "Darren McFadden's on-field doppelganger" because of his running style and speed.
3. Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky (at LSU, 7:30 p.m. ET): There is edge-rushing talent to be had in the 2015 draft -- Vic Beasley, Randy Gregory, Shane Ray and Shawn Oakman among the players who could throw their hats into the ring come May. Dupree (6-4, 264) is closing the gap.
He played the hero in Kentucky's upset of South Carolina on Oct. 4, picking off a pass and scoring from six yards out late in the fourth quarter to steal a victory. Dupree has 3.0 sacks (and 19.0 for his career) on top of that heroic moment.
SI's Lindsey Schnell wrote much more last week on Dupree, who is at the heart of Kentucky's recent turnaround. With experience playing 4-3 DE and 3-4 OLB, Dupree can fit in just about any NFL defensive scheme.
4. Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon (vs. Washington, 9 p.m. ET): Look no further than how Oregon's offensive line played in two games without Fisher to see the senior's value. Fisher suffered a knee injury during a win over Wyoming, then sat out the next two Oregon contests -- a win at Washington State and loss to Arizona. QB Marcus Mariota was sacked 12 times in those games.
Fisher returned just in time, despite being less than 100 percent, to help Oregon score a huge win over UCLA last weekend.
"He really had an awesome game," Mariota said of Fisher. "To have that guy back is huge for us."
The 6-6, 300-pound Fisher stepped up big in an earlier win over Michigan State, too, spending much of that day dealing with fellow NFL prospect Shilique Calhoun. He did so from left tackle, having moved over from the right side after an injury to Tyler Johnstone.
Fisher's NFL future may lie back at the RT spot. Either way, he could be an early starter at the next level.
5. DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville (vs. N.C. State, 3:30 p.m. ET): We might finally get to see Parker this week. One of the top receiver prospects for the 2015 draft, Louisville's star has not yet played this season after breaking his foot back in August.
The Cardinals have managed to go 5-2 without him, but matchups against Florida State and Notre Dame still await, in addition to this week's contest with N.C. State. In other words, a healthy Parker would still have a few chances to impress any NFL teams watching before the season's out.
Of course, he probably has caught enough eyes already. In three seasons, Parker (6-3, 208) has 113 catches for 28 touchdowns and more than 1,900 yards. He's a smart receiver, capable of working himself open against any defensive approach. Parker also sports an 80-inch wingspan and can go up to get the football, a must-have trait for any potential red-zone threat.