There was a real anticipation in the air leading up to the week 5 college football fixtures. Mouth-watering matchups between Arkansas and Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss, and Notre Dame and Cincinnati were on the menu, but if truth be told only the latter lived up to any of the hype. Alabama and Georgia proved yet again that even if you think you’re good enough to compete with these two, you’re not. Arkansas and Ole Miss were ruthlessly dealt with in typical fashion, but from a scouting perspective at least, we still come away with new names to register and keep an eye on during the rest of the season.
We’ll start though with a relatively dull affair in Tulsa, as the Golden Hurricane took on the Houston Cougars in a Friday night filler.
Houston @ Tulsa
This game had no right being anywhere near a national audience. Tulsa were no match for a far superior Houston team, who could have won by more than the finishing 45-10 score line.
Now in all honesty I wanted to watch this one for Tulsa Left Tackle Tyler Smith, who as a Redshirt Freshman last year really impressed me. There aren’t many opportunities to watch Tulsa, but in the 3 games I caught last year Smith looked amazing. Unfortunately, there’s nothing worse than watching one of “your guys” put in a stinker, and Smith had a torrid time in this one, particularly in the 2nd half, but all the tools are still there he’ll just need to rebuild his confidence going forward.
There were lots of good individual performances from the Cougars, but I’ve picked one unheralded guy who looked great and even though Tulsa got smashed, one guy kept fighting to the end and deserves some praise
Latrell Bankston, Defensive Tackle, 6’0 300lbs, Junior
Bankston is a former JUCO transfer who spent the 2020 season playing for Iowa State. I caught three games of him last year and he really impressed in two of them, including a Big XII defensive player of the week award for his 2-sack performance against Texas. Surprisingly he transferred to Houston for this season, but he already is putting up some very good numbers for his new team. It’s not all about numbers of course, as officially Bankston only had two tackles and half a sack in this game, but he was so much more dominant than those numbers suggest. He absolutely owned the interior offensive line of Tulsa and blew up numerous running plays, using sheer physicality to win straight off the snap. He has a real stocky build to him which made him almost impossible to move off the line, but he also offers a threat as a pass rusher and certainly isn’t a one-dimensional gap occupier his measurables would suggest he should be.
He’s obviously moved down a level of competition, but if he continues to dominate like he did here, he may have some late round draft appeal either for 2022 or 2023.
Here is a clip of the nose tackle (#56) playing for Iowa State;
Anthony Goodlow, Edge, 6’4 274lbs, Junior
Goodlow is a nicely sized edge who displayed an unbelievable motor during this game. Whilst most heads went down as the thrashing continued, he kept firing off the edge and causing Houston’s decent Tackles constant problems.
He had a similar stat line to Bankston in this game, 2 tackles with half for a loss, but again this doesn’t tell the whole story. Tulsa’s Defensive Line is actually the best unit on this team, but Edge Cullen Wick and big Defensive Tackle Tyarise Stevenson carry more draft buzz than Goodlow, but in the games I’ve seen (including three from last year) Goodlow consistently outplays his teammates.
Now I doubt Goodlow is a great athlete, but he certainly has enough effort and desire to constantly win against the bigger tackles, and he does showcase a few pass-rush moves that can be used at the next level.
Still only a junior, so I doubt he comes out this year, but if he keeps opening eyes, we may hear more about him for the 2023 draft.
Nathaniel Dell (Wide Receiver, Houston), Christian Trahan (Tight End, Houston), Tank Jenkins (Guard, Houston), D’Anthony Jones (Edge, Houston), Deontay Anderson (Linebacker, Houston), Joseph Anderson (Defensive Tackle, Tulsa)
Cincinnati @ Notre Dame
As I mentioned in the intro, this was the only one of the three big games to live up to the hype. Everyone loves an underdog, and with a win here, in the toughest match-up on their schedule, the Bearcats are certainly getting the credit they deserve now and making new fans along the way. If they can win out as expected, surely they will be knocking on the door of the play-off?
The game itself was a chance for star Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder to showcase his skills for everyone, in the biggest challenge he’ll face. After a slow-ish start, he grew into the game and showed a level of maturity and game management that the other top 2022 Quarterback prospects aren’t right now. Is he the most talented of the 2022 Quarterbacks? No, but no one can doubt that he deserves to be in the same conversation as the other top tier guys.
As usual though we’ll bypass the bigger names and I’m going to highlight four guys, two from each team, that need to be talked about.
Alec Pierce, Wide Receiver, 6’3 213lbs, Senior
Alec Pierce, a lot like his team, has been flying under the radar, but performances like this, against the best competition he’ll face, will finally put him on the draft map.
You’d think a guy at his listed size would be more of a possession receiver, but he is anything but, acting as the team’s best vertical threat. He displayed that here making two big catches deep down the sideline, with speed getting him the separation from the Cornerback on both occasions. Now there is a chance that Notre Dame corner Clarence Lewis is really slow, but if we assume he has average corner speed, then Alec Pierce is running 4.4’s and that is great for someone his size. He’s not just a deep threat either, he showed some nice hands over the middle and some pretty crisp routes too, so we have a pretty complete Wide Receiver here. In the two big games Cincinnati have had (Notre Dame and Indiana) Pierce has a stat line of 11-230-1, and that is very impressive indeed.
Surely Pierce can’t be overlooked anymore, but if he is, perhaps we’re looking at the next Adam Thielen……
Jowon Briggs. Defensive Tackle, 6’0 290lbs, Junior
Briggs, like the previously mentioned Bankston, has dropped down a level of competition after transferring from Virginia to Cincinnati, and is excelling. Now the Bearcats mostly run a 3-man front, so Briggs tends to play the End/Tackle, lining up for half the snaps inside the Guard and the other half either over the Tackle or outside of him. Now his frame is much better suited to a more traditional Defensive Tackle role, but he showed some excellent movement skills that caused the Notre Dame Offensive Line numerous problems when he lined up outside. Surprisingly quick off the ball, he was winning with speed and power and was the standout player on a very talented Cincinnati Defensive Line. He will still have draft eligibility left at the end of the season but if Cincinnati continue this winning streak then there’ll be plenty of eyes on them, and Briggs can make a name for himself for the future.
Cam Hart, Cornerback, 6’3 205lbs, Junior
The best Cornerback on display in the game was Cincinnati’s Sauce Gardner, who has me believing he could well be a top 15 pick in the 2022 draft. But another Cornerback also caught my eye for the first time…..
A first-year starter at Corner, Cam Hart was a well-regarded Wide Receiver coming out of high school. He displayed those former receiver hands last week, picking off two passes against Wisconsin, and he almost had another one in this game.
The first thing you notice about Hart when you see him is his size. He looks every bit the listed measurables but moves like a much smaller player, with clean transitions and fluid movements there’s nothing clunky in his play, which is what you usually see in a big Corner. Now like I said this is his first year of starting, so we only have a five game sample right now, but after a shaky start to the season he has reeled off three very impressive performances, and the name has been duly noted down.
Isaiah Foskey, Edge, 6’5 260lbs, Junior
Foskey, like Hart is a first-year starter, but unlike Hart he had seen the field a fair bit in 2020. He flashed in the games I caught last year and now you can see him exploding in his expanded role for the Fighting Irish. Prototypical size and speed, he looks the real deal and is currently playing at a very high level indeed. If Cincinnati does have a weakness it is on the Offensive Line, and Foskey exploited this on numerous occasions, beating the Tackles easily for quick wins, causing big disruption to plays. He had a great Sack/Fumble on Quarterback Ridder displaying terrifying closing speed, but he plays the run well too, setting the edge nicely and forcing things back inside. He already has five sacks over just five games so far, beating the four he had from all of last season already. A truly ascending player, if Foskey keeps putting up these numbers he’ll be an enticing prospect, even in a pretty deep edge class, if he chooses to declare.
Leonard Taylor (Tight End, Cincinnati), Darrian Beavers (Linebacker, Cincinnati), Sauce Gardner (Cornerback, Cincinnati), Deshawn Pace (Linebacker, Cincinnati), Jarrett Patterson (Center, Notre Dame), Michael Mayer (Tight End, Notre Dame), Kyren Williams (Running Back, Notre Dame), Howard Cross (Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame).
Florida @ Kentucky
This was a game that had crept under most people’s radar, as the big three games were grabbing most of the attention. The feeling before this game was that although Kentucky were unbeaten, Florida would still be too much for them to handle. Well, they were wrong. The Wildcats made the bigger plays on Offense, Defense & Special Teams, and if it wasn’t for some very dubious calls from the refs, I feel they would have won this without having to withstand a late Florida charge. This game was by far the most exciting of the week for me, and the loss puts Florida in a deep SEC East hole and Kentucky now viewing their trip to Athens to face Georgia on the 16th October as a division decider.
I talked about some Florida guys a couple of weeks ago, so we’ll leave them and talk about two standout Wildcats, one from each side of the ball.
Josh Paschal, Edge, 6’2 278lbs, Senior
Paschal has been on my radar since 2019, but he had a bit of an up and down 2020 which made him fall down my list a bit. He will be moving back up again now after this monster game against Florida. I’d previously praised the Florida Tackles against Alabama a few weeks ago, but Paschal ate them both alive here. He is a bigger edge, but he looks longer than his measurables suggest. He is a slippery man, always disengaging from blocks quickly and constantly disrupting plays. He had a stat line of 7 tackles, 2.5 for a loss and the momentum changing blocked Field Goal that was returned for a Touchdown. He really was everywhere, doing everything, and he has previous too as I caught the Missouri game in week two and he was dominant there as well.
Come draft time he will be an interesting evaluation, as he may not test that well and some will view him as a potential Defensive Tackle convert, but all he can do right now is keep blowing up these games and making people take notice.
Wan’Dale Robinson, Wide Receiver, 5’10 185lbs, Junior
Robinson is a transfer from Nebraska, he was criminally underused there in Lincoln for two years, but he’s certainly getting plenty of love now after his move. He is an entertaining watch and the easy, but pretty accurate comparison, is Rondale Moore, the 2nd round pick from Purdue last year. Kentucky, like Nebraska, are a run first team, but they seem to be very willing to get Robinson touches as often as possible, and boy does he take advantage of them. He is such an explosive athlete, you can see he has elite speed in the way he moves, and that was exemplified by his touchdown catch in this one, weaving his way through some traffic before hitting the jets. He won’t be putting up gaudy stats, this offense won’t allow him to do that, but his highlight reel is full of big plays which will be grabbing people’s attention. With Rondale Moore’s impressive start to his NFL career, there will be teams that will be looking for the 2022 version, and Robinson will feature in that conversation.
Chris Rodriguez (Running Back, Kentucky), J.J Weaver (Edge, Kentucky), Jacquez Jones (Linebacker, Kentucky), Tyrell Ajian (Safety, Kentucky), Stewart Reese (Guard, Florida), Antonio Valentino (Defensive Tackle, Florida). Amari Burney (Linebacker, Florida).
Follow Keith on Twitter – @LordLucken