Week 2 of the college season was more subdued than last weekend, with several blowout losses to major programs across the nation. It was a week that saw outstanding performances by several defensive linemen, both well-known players and prospects rising up boards. (* Denotes underclassman)
Cameron Heyward/DL/Ohio State: Heyward loomed large in the Buckeyes' domination of the Miami Hurricanes. He posted four tackles, one for a loss and intercepted a pass which he returned 80 yards to set-up a score. Heyward's ability to pursue the action to the sidelines was impressive and offers further proof the senior is a solid athlete with the ability to effectively line up in a variety of schemes.
Cameron Jordan/DL/California: Jordan was omnipresent around the football in the Bears' blowout win over Colorado. He dominated highly rated left tackle Nate Solder on several occasions. Jordan is highly-regarded by scouts and he's developed at a fast pace the past year in Cal's 3-4 alignment.
Sione Fua/DT/Stanford: The Cardinal senior dominated the line of scrimmage during Stanford's 35-0 victory over UCLA. Fua displayed the uncanny ability to occupy opponents, which allowed his teammates to make plays on the ball. One of the better sleeper prospects at defensive tackle, many think Fua could make a mad dash up draft boards next April in a style similar to Tyson Alualu's rise in the recent draft.
Nick Fairley*/DL/Auburn: The Tigers have a new star in the lineup. The junior college transfer, who started just two games last season, had a career performance against Mississippi State on Thursday. He's an athletic lineman who effectively stuffs the run, (five tackles against MSU) or makes plays behind the line of scrimmage (four combined tackles for loss/sacks). Fairley offers terrific upside and shows a dominant nature to his game.
Jonas Mouton/LB/Michigan: The Wolverines are off to a fast start at 2-0 and Mouton has been the teams's top defender in both games. He led the unit with 13 tackles in the exciting win over Notre Dame besides intercepting a pass early in the game, which Michigan converted into a touchdown. Mouton is an explosive linebacker who effortlessly moves sideline-to-sideline. He added 15 pounds of muscle this season yet did not lose a step of speed.
Austin Pettis/WR/Boise State: Pettis was a jack of all trades in the Broncos' upset victory over Virginia Tech. His six receptions and two touchdowns included the game-winning score with one minute left. Pettis also blocked a field goal in the first quarter, which the Broncos later converted into seven points. Further, he spent time as a holder for field goals. Pettis is a reliable receiver with nice size and his special teams skills will only add to his draft value.
Chimdi Chekwa/CB/Ohio State: Chekwa picked off a pair of passes, broke up two more throws and added six tackles in the victory over Miami. His play helped the Buckeyes hold the Hurricanes offense to just 10 points. Chekwa offers an enormous amount of skill but has shown minimal consistency the past three seasons. Scouts want to see more performances the likes he turned in on Saturday, which was a good start for the talented senior.
Rob Housler/TE/Florida Atlantic: Eyebrows were raised when scouts graded Housler, who red-shirted in 2009, as one of the best senior tight ends in the nation. He proved the doubters wrong on Saturday. Playing against Michigan State, the best competition he'll face this season, Housler recorded seven receptions for 75 yards. He's a long, angular athlete with good speed and above average strength. Critics have previously pointed to Housler's inconsistency in catching the ball, but on Saturday he made a number of tough, acrobatic receptions besides coming away with the ordinary grab.
Nathan Enderle/QB/Idaho: Enderle was graded as a potential top 75 pick by NFL scouts coming into the season, yet struggled Saturday against a talented Nebraska squad. He completed 51.6 percent of his passes and threw five interceptions. Though harassed all day, Enderle's poor accuracy and penchant for putting the ball up from grabs was apparent to all.
Nate Solder/T/Colorado: Solder, who is considered a second round talent by league scouts, looked like a free agent lineman against Cal on Saturday. He was beaten for sacks on several occasions, struggled to pick up the blitz and at one point resorted to holding Bears defenders in an attempt to slow them down.
Ryan Williams/RB/Virginia Tech: Williams looked pedestrian against Boise State, chalking up just 54 yards on 20 carries, and was only slightly better in the upset loss to James Madison, when he accounted for 91 yards. Williams is a big time talent but not a big time football player to this point.
Notes: Two other defensive linemen turned in solid performances despite being on the losing side of the scoreboard. Miami's Allen Bailey showed significant improvement defending the run while Pernell McPhee of Mississippi State continues to display good awareness and instincts on the field. ... Mike Pouncey showed a bit of improvement against South Florida as his snaps were less of an adventure. There's still plenty of room for improvement before anyone will consider Pouncey as NFL center material. ... Much was expected from Auburn running back Mario Fannin this season but the senior left Thursday's game with a shoulder injury. The early reports are the big-bodied back could return this week when Auburn takes on Clemson, but the injury bears watching through the rest of the season.