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Risers and Sliders


For a third consecutive weekend in college football the rankings have been shaken up. The nation's top two teams both posted their first loss of the year. To the surprise of many, a number of highly rated NFL prospects are also watching their draft stock fall.

Jordy Nelson/WR/Kansas St: Nelson is in the midst of a career season and charging up draft boards. On pace to triple his receiving numbers from a year ago, Nelson has already surpassed his junior production after just six games this season. Also adding the dimension of punt returner, Nelson is likely to be a top 75 pick in April.

Donnie Avery/WR-RS/Houston: Avery turned in an epic performance during Houston's high scoring victory over crosstown rival Rice. Setting school and conference records for receiving yards (346) and all purpose yards (427), Avery also added touchdown receptions of 77 and 67 yards during the contest. One of the fastest senior receivers in the nation, he is also averaging near 30 yards returning kicks this season.

Aqib Talib/CB/Kansas: A shutdown corner who occasionally lines up at receiver, Talib is one of the main reasons why the Jayhawks remain undefeated. Talib has four touchdown receptions and three interceptions, one which was brought back for a score. After picking off a pass to seal victory again Kansas State two weeks ago, Talib was quiet against Baylor, as opposing quarterbacks are purposely avoiding him.

Dwight Lowery/CB-RS/San Jose State: The opportunistic ball hawk showed off his skills against one of the nation's most potent offenses. During the Spartans heartbreaking overtime loss to Hawaii, Lowery scored a pair of touchdowns. The first was the result of an 84 yard punt return and the second came when Lowery ran an interception back 24 yards. Even though the Hawaii offense recorded 545 yards passing, they avoided throwing in Lowery's direction for most of the evening.

Jacob Tamme/TE/Kentucky: Tamme has come up big all season long and was crucial in the Wildcats stunning overtime victory against LSU. He caught just three passes yet all came during critical points of the game, including an 8-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, which drew Kentucky within seven points. Tamme's blocking has been much better than advertised this season and that could make him the first senior tight end selected next April.

Mike Humpal/LB/Iowa: Given a free-agent grade entering the season, Humpal has been playing himself into the middle rounds this year. Taking on a leadership role for the Iowa defense after teammate Mike Klinkenborg was hurt, Humpal presently stands as the Hawkeyes leading tackler. He was stellar in the upset victory over Illinois, collecting 18 tackles, including 2 ½ for loss as well as a sack.

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Graham Harrell/QB/Texas Tech: Harrell is another Texas Tech quarterback with eye-popping numbers. In seven games he's completed 74 percent of his throws for more than 3,100 yards with 31 touchdowns and just three interceptions. What is unique is the fact NFL scouts think this Red Raider signal-caller has a real shot to play at the next level.

Andre Callender/RB/Boston College: Callender is turning into one of the better situational ball handlers in the country. Averaging almost five yards on 128 carries this season, Callender has also caught 26 passes. The shifty ball handler has a total of eleven touchdowns in seven games. A mid-round choice, Callender is a third down back for the next level and could eventually develop into a feature runner.

Jacob Hester/FB-RB/LSU: Graded as a late-round fullback by NFL scouting services, Hester has developed into the team's feature runner and one of the most consistent players on the LSU offense. Hester could end up as a middle-round choice for a team which runs a West Coast offense.

Mike Cox/FB/Georgia Tech: Traditional lead-blocking fullbacks rarely get their just due, but Cox is breaking that mold. Regardless of the fact he's carried the ball just once this season, Cox has been a major force for the ACC's No. 1 rushing offense. A devastating blocker, Cox has opened holes for running back Tashard Choice, who's topped the century mark carrying the ball the past three games. Cox could well be the first pure fullback drafted in April.

Calais Campbell/DE/Miami (Fl): This is the second time this season Campbell has made this list, and it is with good reason. Though he was doubled by Georgia Tech for most of the game on Saturday, Campbell was basically a non-factor and tallied just five tackles, registering no sacks or tackles for loss. Coming into the season with high grades, it is definitely fair to say Campbell has not had the impact people expected this year.

Tyson Jackson/DE/LSU: Even though he registered a career-high eight tackles against Kentucky, Jackson's star has diminished in the eyes of NFL scouts. Jackson has failed to force the action up the field and has not played smart football this season.

Curtis Painter/QB/Purdue: After beating up on lesser competition in the early part of the season, Painter has had a rough go of it the past two weeks. Painter struggled to get his team into the end zone last Saturday against Ohio State. Michigan held Painter to just 113 yards passing and forced a pair of interceptions. The Boilermaker signal-caller was pulled out of the line up late in the game.

Sam Keller/QB/Nebraska: NFL scouts were looking forward to watching Keller throw the ball for Nebraska this season after he sat on the sidelines last year. Thus far the results have been disappointing. The Cornhuskers' offense has melted down recently and Keller is at the center of it. During an unusual beating the team took in Lincoln at the hands of Oklahoma State, Keller threw for just 129 yards and tossed two interceptions. Keller's has posted 10 interceptions this season compared to 11 touchdowns.

The senior class of receivers has been hit with a rash of injuries to highly rated prospects. Texas' Limas Sweed will miss the rest of the season after undergoing wrist surgery. The tall possession receiver was considered a fringe first-round pick before being sidelined and is now likely to fall out of the initial 32 selections. Wisconsin's Paul Hubbard, graded as a second-round choice at season's start, has played just two games this year and is sidelined with a knee injury. His teammate Luke Swan, considered a solid middle round choice, is out for the rest of the season with a severe hamstring injury. The nation's No. 1 upperclassman, Early Doucet of LSU, has been on the sidelines with what was originally diagnosed as a groin strain after the second game of the season. Missing the next four games, Doucet did make a brief appearance on the field during overtime against Kentucky, though he was nothing more than a decoy.