The second week of college football is in the books, and per usual, the offseason prognostications of media experts and laymen alike are being swiftly abandoned. Last week, the juggernaut of the Big Ten Conference, Ohio State, was shellacked by an Oregon team that had significant trouble routing a solid Fresno State team. In week one, Florida State, which nearly upset Notre Dame, was routed by FCS school Jacksonville State. With their plethora of offensive playmakers, the USC Trojans failed to gain traction against unranked Stanford, and their head coach Clay Helton now finds himself without a job. As the chaos spreads, Devy managers must continue to see through the haze and focus on finding the NFL stars of the future.
Kevin Harris, South Carolina, RB: DOWN
For certain running backs, college production isn't necessary. During his three years at Alabama, Josh Jacobs never eclipsed 700 yards on the ground but still heard his name in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft. High school performance, pedigree, college program, and combine performance all factor into how the NFL evaluates talent and production. While Alabama remains a pipeline school for running back talent, South Carolina hasn't produced a running back drafted higher than the fourth round since Duce Staley back in 1997. Outside of the helmet scouting, Kevin Harris faces other obstacles to being a high-round draft selection. A three-star prospect in 2019 (per 247sports composite), Harris emerged from nowhere in 2020 to seize the starting running back job when true freshman Marshawn Lloyd suffered an ACL tear in camp. Harris dominated to the tune of 1138 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns but came into the 2021 season nursing an injury of his own. Aside from Harris' injury, Marshawn Lloyd is healthy again, and 2020 JUCO star ZaQuandre White has also entered the running back rotation. With all three players vying for carries, individual production should continue to be lackluster, making it difficult for Harris to separate himself from the other running backs entering the 2022 NFL Draft.
In this week's game, South Carolina saw four players receive more than five carries, with none of them obtaining more than 11 carries. Harris only managed 33 yards on seven carries against weak competition, and that performance won't endear many to scouts to him. Despite having the proper NFL size and skillset, he doesn't have the freaky athleticism that many NFL teams seek. Couple that with a low-production final season, and Harris will be hard-pressed to hear his name called early on draft day. Devy managers valuing Harris as a top-50 selection may want to temper expectations and start exploring trade options.
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame, TE: UP
Through the first two weeks, no team has been luckier than Notre Dame, which eeked out narrow victories in both games. Consider it the luck of the Irish. A constant between both contests has been the involvement and impact of tight end Michael Mayer. He's on a torrid pace in 2021, racking up 16 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Mayer, a five-star tight end in the 2020 class (per 247 composite), already boasts NFL size at 6' 4", 251lbs. He flashes his athleticism consistently and shows a strong capability for blocking at the line. Mayer is the complete package at tight end and, as a true sophomore, is already the number one target for the Fighting Irish. Given the development time for tight ends, selecting one in Devy comes with a higher wait time and higher risk. That said, Mayer has no question marks about his game and is currently on track to be the first tight end selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Zach Evans, TCU, RB: UP
Third Eye Blind summed it up well, "Everyone's got to face down the demons. Maybe today, we can put the past away." Whatever demons or issues Zach Evans faced in his recruiting cycle are now firmly in the past. A five-star recruit in 2020 (per 247sports composite), Evans had a wild ride getting to TCU, but his talent is undeniable. This week, Evans dominated the competition against a decent California team, carrying the ball 22 times for 190 yards and a touchdown. He showed burst, long speed, and the ability to push a pile, talents that weren't often showcased in his freshman season. Despite being a part of a 2023 running back class that contains other high-profile names such as Bijan Robinson, Kendall Milton, Marshawn Lloyd, and Jahmyr Gibbs, Evans has the talent to be selected in the first round. If Devy managers have an opportunity to move a higher-risk position or a lower-value asset in the 2022 class for Evans, that would be ideal.
Demond Demas, Texas A&M, WR: DOWN
Last year was one of patience concerning Demond Demas. With undeniable talent coming out of high school and an empty depth chart ahead of him, most people imagined that Demas would be an immediate contributor in 2020. Instead, he played in four games and had no catches. That result didn't stop Demas from being hyped by multiple pundits this offseason, with the hope that the non-existent first-year production was due to reduced camp opportunities stemming from COVID restrictions. Advance to the 2021 season; the first depth chart is released for the Aggies, and Demas still isn't listed as a starter, being beaten out by Caleb Chapman, Caleb Lane, and Ainis Smith. Through two weeks, Demas still doesn't have a catch. Considering the expectations placed on him coming out of high school, it's likely that Demas is rostered in almost every Devy league. Hearing nothing but excuses thus far, Devy managers need to consider that Demas may never reach his full potential, like many other five-star (per 247sports composite) receiver recruits before him.
Matt Corral, Ole Miss, QB: UP
It's a wonder Matt Corral's receivers are still willing and able to catch balls from his howitzer of an arm. Seriously, he can wing it! The arm strength has never really been in question, however. Instead, many wonder about his accuracy and, more importantly, whether Corral has the decision-making skills necessary to thrive in the NFL. A 2020 stat line of 3,337 passing yards with a 70.9% completion percentage for 27 touchdowns sounds wonderful. The other side of the story includes 14 interceptions, 11 of which were thrown between two games (five against LSU and six against Arkansas). In 2019, Jameis Winston led the NFL in passing yards and was second in touchdowns with 33. In 2020, he found himself relegated to backup duties on a different team.
Along with those amazingly positive stats, Winston also racked up a debilitating 30 interceptions. Corral is off to a sublime start this season, throwing for 662 yards and six touchdowns over two games, with zero interceptions. His Heisman odds have jumped to second or third, depending on the betting site, and the potential is there for him to be a first-round draft selection in 2022. As a result, Matt Corral has to move up the Devy rankings, understanding that his stock remains one of the more volatile ones in the college quarterback landscape.
Jojo Earle, Alabama, WR: UP
As with most years, Alabama's receiver corps is expected to dominate the college landscape on their way to high-level NFL stardom. The difficulty this year centered around who those starting receivers would be. Alabama sent Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, and Devonta Smith to the NFL in the past two years, leaving only John Metchie as the sole presumed starter. The expected candidates to fill the other starting roles included four top ten receiver prospects (per 247sports composite) from the 2021 freshman class (Agiye Hall, Jacory Brooks, Jojo Earle, and Christian Leary), three top-50 receiver prospects from the 2020 class (Thaiu Jones-Bell, Traeshon Holden, and Javon Baker), and a top-20 transfer from the 2019 class (Jameson Williams). Camp reports and the spring game caused many to think that those roles might be filled by Hall and Holden. Instead, it appears that the transfer Jameson Williams and true freshman Jojo Earle will get a majority of the looks. While Alabama will surely rotate in the other receivers as the season progresses, Earle himself is off to a promising start. Despite the last game being against FCS school Mercer, Earle led the team in both receptions and yards, reeling in seven catches for 85 yards. The results may not be eye-popping for now, but with his role on a team of Alabama's stature, expect Earle to grow into a top-tier Devy asset in no time.
Brock Bowers - Georgia - Tight End
Dontay Demus - Maryland - Wide Receiver
Casey Thompson - Texas - Quarterback
Wan'Dale Robinson - Kentucky - Wide Receiver
Khalil Shakir - Boise State - Wide Receiver
Blake Corum - Michigan - Running Back
CJ Verdell - Oregon - Running Back
Phil Jurkovec - Boston College - Quarterback (Hand injury)
Don Chaney Jr. - Miami - Running Back (Torn ACL)
Haynes King - Texas A&M - Quarterback (Leg fracture)
Hudson Card - Texas - Quarterback
John Emery Jr. - LSU - Running Back (Academically ineligible for season)
Brock Purdy - Iowa State - Quarterback
Hundreds of prospects ranked and updated throughout the season. Stay updated on all the NFL Draft eligible players and where they could go in the draft.
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