College football finished its second full weekend on the field and with it came several surprise finishes. A number of lesser known NFL prospects also stepped up in a big way, gaining notice from NFL scouts and improving their draft stock.
Tom Brandstater/QB/Fresno State: The Bulldogs signal caller showed why many feel he's one of the better senior quarterback prospects in the nation. He kept his poise under relentless pressure for three quarters when Fresno State could not move the ball and he made good decisions in averse circumstances. Brandstater eventually hooked up on two long throws late in the game, leading FSU to an upset win at Rutgers.
Tyrone Green/OG/Auburn: Green is starting to draw comparisons to former Auburn Tiger Ben Grubbs, who went on to become a first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens. His ability to block in motion has always impressed scouts and Green is displaying improved run blocking strength as a senior.
Michael Johnson/DE/Georgia Tech: NFL scouting services ranked Johnson as the No. 1 senior in the nation heading into the season and he proved deserving of that grade against Boston College. His upfield pressure in the first half forced an interception. Late in the game his relentless pass rush hampered the Eagles bid to move the ball, which sealed a Georgia Tech victory.
Malcolm Jenkins/CB/Ohio State: Jenkins was one of the few bright spots during the Buckeyes' listless victory over Ohio. He put his outstanding cover skills on display and shut out the Bobcat offense every time it dared to pass in his direction.
Shawn Nelson/TE/Southern Mississippi: Nelson turned in a career day and did all he could to keep his team competitive against Auburn. His totals included 12 catches for 118 yards and two scores, one which came late in the game and put USM in striking distance of Auburn.
Troy Kropog/OT/Tulane: April's draft seems loaded at offensive tackle and Kropog is one of the better pass blockers from the senior class. He was outstanding against the fierce Alabama rush and the main reason Tulane's signal caller stood upright most of the game.
Scott McKillop/MLB/Pittsburgh: The Panthers run-stuffing linebacker posted 15 tackles during the victory over Buffalo. He also broke up a pass and added one tackle for loss. McKillop is one of the best two-down defenders in the nation.
Robert Brewster/OT/Ball State: Brewster is the best blocker for one of the most underrated offenses in college football. He's a large and powerful tackle who has surprised scouts this year with his ability to block on the move.
Cole Popovich/OG/Fresno State: Popovich was at one time considered a better pro-prospect than former FSU lineman Logan Mankins, the Patriots' first round pick in the 2005 draft. He's a four-year starter whose career has been marred by injury. As a result, Popovich was not rated by NFL scouting services entering the season. He showed much of the previous form which made him a highly considered prospect during the Bulldogs win over Rutgers and must be put back on the radar screen.
Steve Schilling/OT/Michigan: Schilling was expected to take over as the Wolverines top blocker after the departure of Jake Long to the NFL but that has not been the case. He's struggled with the new blocking scheme implemented by Rich Rodriguez as opponents have exploited Schilling's marginal athleticism.
Ryan Stanchek/OT/West Virginia: Stanchek had problems all afternoon trying to slow down the speedy defenders East Carolina sent his way. Stanchek is a big, lumbering lineman and struggles in anything other than a very small area.
Al Afalava/S/Oregon State: Afalava's many miscues early against Penn State set the tone for what was a rout. He was late on coverage assignments, which lead to long pass completions and missed tackles that enabled Penn State running backs to pick up big yardage from the line of scrimmage.
Maurice Wells/RB/Ohio State: NFL scouts placed the Buckeyes backup on the radar screen prior to the season but Wells has fallen short of expectations since filling in for injured starter Chris "Beanie" Wells (no relation). The senior picked up just 48 yards rushing and added a single reception against Ohio in what could have been his best opportunity to display his skills this year.
• Tight end was previewed as a position of strength heading towards the 2008 draft and the top seniors have not disappointed during the opening weeks of the season. Two Conference USA tight ends, Shawn Nelson of Southern Mississippi and East Carolina's Devon Drew, have been highlighted as risers the past two weeks. Senior prospects such as Brandon Pettigrew of Oklahoma State and Chase Coffman of Missouri are off to blistering starts as are juniors Jermaine Gresham of Oklahoma and Mike Owen of Syracuse. The end result could be a record number of tight ends selected during the draft's first three rounds next April.
• South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe totaled 400 all-purpose yards and threw a touchdown strike in overtime to give the Bulls a 31-24 victory over interstate rival Central Florida. Grothe, a terrific college signal caller, has given NFL scouts much to think about the past three seasons. The junior lacks the size and arm strength to be anything other than a reserve at the next level, yet his playmaking ability and winning ways could help him catch the fancy of NFL teams. Grothe is likely to end up as a "slash" type of quarterback and placed on the field in goal line situations, which would maximize his ability to make plays throwing the pass or running the ball.
• Central Florida wideout Rocky Ross, whose acrobatic reception late in the game forced overtime against South Florida, has also given scouts a reason to rethink their original opinion about his next level skills. Entering the year Ross was graded as a low priority free agent by both NFL scouting services. A high school sprinter, he is on pace to have a career season in '08. Continued positive play followed up by good pre-draft workouts could push Ross into the late rounds of next April's draft considering the perceived weakness at the receiver position.