There were few notable upsets in college football last weekend college, and none that upset the rankings of the top five teams. There were a number of outstanding performances by top NFL prospects from both sides of the line of scrimmage, while several highly rated prospects saw their draft stock drop.
Anthony Smith/DT/Louisiana Tech: NFL scouts don't often have a reason to travel through Louisiana Tech but thanks to Smith they've been coming by the busload this season. The powerful defensive tackle is flying up draft boards and his performance against Hawaii was outstanding. Smith clogged the middle of the line, forcing Hawaii to double team and often triple team blocks in order to slow him down. The stats proved how dominant Smith was as Hawaii finished the game with -7 yards rushing with just two first downs on the ground.
Bruce Campbell/OT/Maryland: Campbell, one of the top junior left tackle prospects in the nation, held Clemson's dominant pass rushers in check during Maryland's unexpected victory on Saturday. The athletic blocker shut down Ricky Sapp, who is projected as a first round pick next April. Campbell also grades out as a first round choice when he enters the draft.
Gabe Carimi/OT/Wisconsin: The Badgers blind side protector has been effective in recent weeks, despite struggling with a knee injury. His pass protection during Wisconsin's victory over Minnesota was brilliant as the Gophers never registered a sack. Carimi's improved run blocking was on display during a long fourth-quarter drive which sealed the win for the Badgers. Carimi is another junior left tackle who projects as a top-32 selection.
Greg Romeus/DE/Pittsburgh: Romeus is the third underclassmen rising up draft boards this week. He was a dominant force against Louisville, posting 3.5 tackles for loss and an equal number of sacks. He has come alive recently after a slow start -- scouts consider him as a prospect with a large upside.
Willie Young/DE/North Carolina State: The Wolfpack suffered a devastating loss to Wake Forest despite Young's efforts. He finished the game with three tackles for loss, three sacks and also forced a fumble on the opening drive, which North Carolina State converted into a touchdown. Young tips the scales at 246 pounds and is projected as an outside linebacker by NFL scouts. He displayed a lot of versatility against Wake Forest while making plays standing up over tackle and lining up in a three-point stance.
Toby Gerhart/RB/Stanford: Stanford's feature back is moving up draft boards faster than any ball-carrier in the nation. Gerhart has been a one-man show that's literally carried Stanford's offense. He followed up an impressive performance in the victory over Washington, when he posted 200 rushing yards, by running roughshod over a tough UCLA defense for 134 yards and three touchdowns. Gerhart was responsible for almost half of Stanford's first downs in the victory over the Bruins. The 235-pound power runner reminds many of Tommy Vardell, the former Stanford star selected with the ninth pick of the 1992 draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Anthony McCoy/TE/USC: McCoy has risen to the forefront of the tight end position and is turning into a complete player. He's a legitimate threat in the secondary as a pass catcher and more importantly, McCoy has elevated his blocking skills this season. Several big-name tight ends have already gone down with season-ending injuries and McCoy is filling the void for teams that may look to the position in April.
Kyle McCarthy/S/Notre Dame: The leader of Notre Dame's defense, McCarthy has made several game-saving plays this season. He's the number one tackler for the Irish and leads the team with three interceptions McCarthy is also been a demon on special teams, and that mixture of skills has scouts intrigued.
Simoni Lawrence/OLB/Minnesota: Lawrence, the slightly built Gopher linebacker, is on track for a career season. He's a terrific athlete who makes plays sideline-to-sideline, sacrificing his body to stop opponents. His 220-pound frame will not be a good fit for every team, but a number of one-gap defenses wanting a quick, explosive linebacker in April's draft will look towards Lawrence in the middle rounds.
Jeff Owens/DT/Georgia: Owens, who was rated as a top-75 pick by NFL scouts entering the season, has been mostly invisible during Georgia's first five games. He's recorded just five solo tackles and half a sack so far this season. His play on Saturday during the Bulldogs close loss to LSU was improved and it is a trend Owens must continue to restore his draft grade.
Rahim Alem/DE/LSU: Alem is another defensive lineman who received an early round grade by NFL scouts but has struggled to live up to the billing. Considered to be a pass-rush specialist, Alem has posted just two sacks this season while at times struggling stopping the run.
Notes: More than any other season in recent memory, 2009 has witnessed numerous injuries to a large number of highly rated prospects. Besides injuries to well-known prospects such as quarterbacks Tim Tebow of Florida and Sam Bradford from Oklahoma, a host of other highly rated players are nursing various degrees of ailments. The top two prospects at tight end, Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham and Arizona Rob Gronkowski, saw their season's cut short by injury before ever stepping on the field. Mississippi's Greg Hardy, one of the nations most feared pass rushers, has been struggling with an ankle injury. Other lesser known names that are highly considered by NFL scouts such as linebackers Martez Wilson of Illinois and Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond, have also suffered season-ending injuries.