We used the week 0 games to warm us up and get us back into the swing of scouting, but this past weekend saw the notebooks out and old names revisited, and new names jotted down excitedly. Obviously the main attraction was Georgia vs. Clemson, and we thought (foolishly) Alabama vs. Miami would be closer than it was, but I want to look past those higher profile games and focus on a couple of others that threw out some nice prospects to get to know.
North Carolina @ Virginia Tech
This game had the magnificent “Enter Sandman” stadium entrance, and it really is quite a sight to see a crowd getting so into it, especially considering stadiums were pretty empty last year. The game itself was meant to showcase UNC Quarterback Sam Howell, but for me two Offensive Linemen stood out and put themselves on draft radars;
Joshua Ezeudu, Left Tackle, UNC, Junior, 6’4 325lbs
Last season UNC had Asim Richards at Left Tackle whilst Joshua Ezeudu manned the Left Guard spot, but this season they have swapped roles which surprised me, as both played well last year. With highly regarded (not by me, I have to say) Virginia Tech edge Amare Barno playing, this was meant to be a stern test of Ezeudu’s ability to play Tackle, but he passed it with flying colours. He looks taller than listed, but that may be because he has long arms, which dominate opponents and controls them quickly off snap. What also stood out was athleticism. He moved around so effortlessly in pass protection and got outside and to the second level easily on run plays. He looked natural, which considering he hasn’t had many snaps playing Tackle, says a lot about how he dominated here. Still only a Junior, so he may want to stick around for another year to get more experience, but he was already on my radar as a guard, and if he keeps this level of play up at Tackle, he may well want to enter the draft and cash in now.
Luke Tenuta, Left Tackle, Virginia Tech, Sophomore, 6’9 322lbs
One of the biggest question marks on the Virginia Tech Offense was who was going to replace first Round Left Tackle Christian Darrisaw this season. The answer was former Right Tackle Luke Tenuta, who has switched sides and looked very good in doing so in the season opener. He was excellent last season at Right Tackle, and you’d think with his frame he’d be better suited to the right side, but he looked every bit a premier Left Tackle here against North Carolina. He uses his length well to control the pass rush and shows plenty of strength in the run game too, creating some nice lanes which the Running Backs took advantage of. Whilst the UNC Edge Rushers weren’t the best, so he will have tougher tests to come, but he has secured the starting gig and will look to continue this high-level play throughout the season. I’m guessing Tenuta will be a 2023 draft prospect, but he certainly is worth noting down now and keeping an eye on.
Jermaine Waller (Cornerback, Virginia Tech), Norell Pollard (Defensive Tackle, Virginia Tech), Jordan Tucker (Right Tackle, North Carolina).
Texas Tech vs. Houston
This game had such an odd first quarter. Houston took the Kick-Off and went on a 16 play TD drive eating loads of time off the clock. They then surprised Texas Tech by recovering the ensuing onside kick and went straight down and scored another TD. So, before the Texas Tech Offense had even gotten on the field, they were 14-0 down with only 3 minutes of the first quarter left.
But to their credit Tech came storming back, and after getting some rest, their defense improved dramatically and was instrumental in the comeback win.
There were quite a few stand out performances, but I’ve picked 3 guys who really did their draft stock the world of good in this one.
Dawson Deaton, Texas Tech, Center, Senior, 6’6 310lbs
I’ve been high on Deaton for a couple of years now, so it’s always nice when one of “your guys” plays well. Now Deaton has the frame of a Tackle and it’s not inconceivable to think he could play all 5-line spots if needed. He is such a smart player, head always on a swivel making sure there is no threat coming and handles stunts and loops in his sleep. He picks up blitzers effortlessly, stonewalling them immediately, and moves really well for a long Center, getting outside and creating running lanes too. I seem to be much higher on him than the consensus, but I see a very pro ready guy with scheme versatility, and in this average interior offensive line class, I think he could move his way up lists by season’s end.
Krishon Merriweather, Texas Tech, Linebacker, Senior, 6’0 240lbs
Merriweather led the Red Raiders in tackles last season after coming in from the JUCO ranks. I didn’t get much tape on him from last year, so this was my first real good look at him and he really impressed. He, like the rest of the defense, seemed to have no answer to Houston on their first two drives, but after that he, and the rest of the unit, played lights out. He leads by example, flying to the football and making plays, and reads everything so quickly. Merriweather was not fooled either in coverage, he looked assured in drop backs, but his best work was done in front of him, especially against the run. He finished with 7 tackles and 1.5 for a loss, and although this was against Houston, he has my attention for the rest of the season.
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