Projecting the top NFL prospects from USC and Ohio State

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The focus of the college football world will be on Southern California this weekend. Ohio State visits the Los Angeles Coliseum in the hopes of knocking USC from their top ranking. NFL decision-makers will also be watching this game intently as almost two dozen players will impact the draft's initial two rounds in coming years. Here's a look at the top prospects from both squads, with some early predications on their draft rankings (* -- denotes underclassmen):

Chris Wells*,RB: His ability to play at full health will be a determining factor in the outcome of the game, but there's no questioning Wells is one of the best next-level prospects in the nation. He's the complete package who runs through defenders yet can turn the corner or create yardage on the inside. Early 1st round.

Malcolm Jenkins, CB: Jenkins is the next in the long line of talented cornerbacks to come out of Columbus and possibly the best prospect since Shawn Springs. He likely would have been a top-10 choice last April had he left for the NFL. Early 1st round.

James Laurinaitis, LB: Nicknamed "Little Animal," Laurinaitis lives up to that moniker with intense play on the field. Laurinaitis is a solid NFL prospect yet not the top-five pick many have anointed him to be. Mid 1st round.

Marcus Freeman, OLB: Ohio State's other linebacker does not get the same notoriety as Laurinaitis yet is equally as talented. Freeman is a shade smaller than his teammate but much more of a three-down defender who can play over the tight end in coverage. Late 1st round.

Brian Robiskie, WR: Robiskie comes from a football background and is clearly the most polished senior receiver in the nation. His pre-draft workouts, specifically his 40 time, will dictate how early he is selected next April. Early 2nd round.

Alex Boone, OT: Boone is neither the most athletic left tackle nor a player who looks the part. He is a productive three-year starter that finds a way to protect his quarterback, which is always in demand at the next level. Mid 2nd round.

Doug Worthington*,DL: The Buckeyes unsung hero in the trenches, Worthington does the dirty work up front. His size and athleticism are enticing as Worthington has potential at a variety of defensive line positions. Mid 2nd round.

Lawrence Wilson*, DE: Wilson is off to a strong start after missing the '07 campaign with a broken leg. He's a natural pass rusher with great potential if he stays healthy. Mid 2nd round.

Donald Washington*, CB: Washington is back on the field this week after completing a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules. He's an aggressive cornerback with outstanding ball skills. Late 2nd round.

Kurt Coleman*, S: Coleman is another player who gets little recognition on a very talented Buckeye defense. He's a well-rounded safety always in a position to make plays on the ball. Early 3rd round.

Rey Maualuga, LB: Maualuga will draw comparisons to Junior Seau, but the fact is he also combines attributes of Ray Lewis and Marvin Jones. He is a dominant middle linebacker with a complete game; a true three down defender. Early 1st round.

Taylor Mays*, S: USC has a long history of putting outstanding defensive backs into the NFL draft and Mays could be the program's most complete safety since Ronnie Lott. He's a devastating run defender and displays top skill in pass coverage. Mid 1st round.

Brian Cushing, OLB: Cushing struggled with injury last season but looks to be back to top form after the opener against Virginia. He's a forceful defender who lines up in a three-point stance or stands up over tackle. Cushing presently grades as the No. 1 3-4 outside linebacker in next years draft. Top 25 Pick.

Mark Sanchez*, QB: Sanchez was effective filling in for the injured John David Booty last season and picked up where he left off when pushed back into the starting line-up. He possesses the size and arm strength and so far seems to have the intangibles to be a starter in the NFL. Late 1st round.

Cary Harris, CB: Harris, the team's No. 1 cover man, is a natural cornerback with good ball skills. He grades better than Terrell Thomas, drafted in the second round last April by the New York Giants. Early 2nd round.

Fili Moala, DT: NFL scouting services gave Moala a free agent grade coming into the season, which raised a number of eyebrows. Moalo is athletic, explosive and his play reminds many of former Trojan Darrell Russell. His motor is not always running, a criticism Russell faced, and this concerns scouts. Mid 2nd round.

Stanley Havili*, FB: Havili is a triple-threat fullback who dominates the action as a lead blocker, ball carrier and pass catcher. He does the little things well and is an asset on any roster. Mid 2nd round.

Butch Lewis*, OT: "Student Body Right" always requires a powerful yet nimble tackle on the right side. Lewis fits the mold and is a dynamite young prospect. Mid 2nd round.

Kevin Ellison, S: Ellison lacks the game of his teammate Taylor Mays, yet is a solid run-defending safety who makes plays up the field. He projects as a traditional strong safety in the NFL. Late 2nd round.

Kyle Moore, DE: Moore is very much the forgotten man on the Trojan defense yet has enough skill to play at the next level. He's a solid pass rusher and has the growth potential to develop into an every down lineman. Mid 3rd round.