COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 15: Defensive end Andre Branch #40 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates during the closing moments of the Tigers' 56-45 win over the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on October 15, 2011 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
So far the BCS bowl games have not disappointed, all three games have been great. Tonight will be final BCS game before the national championship as #23 West Virginia (9-3) takes on #15 Clemson (10-3) at 8:30 on ESPN in the Orange Bowl. It should be a high scoring affair with both teams sporting some NFL talent for the 2012 draft.
Clemson Pro Prospects
Andre Branch, DE, 6'4, 260 lbs: Last year Clemson had some solid defensive line prospects in Da'Quan Bowers and Jarvis Jenkins, this year the Tigers add to the tradition with Andre Branch who has been a monster this year. This year alone Branch has 10.5 sacks and has risen all the way up to a 1st round prospect. I think Branch's future may be most suited to be a 3-4 outside linebacker, so he may not be the best fit for the Redskins. But look for Branch to make some noise tonight and as the draft approaches. He plays "bandit" for Clemson which is a sort of hybrid LB/DL position for Clemson and is fun to watch.
Brandon Thompson, DT, 6'2, 305 lbs: Branch's partner in crime is 2nd round prospect Brandon Thompson. Thompson is a space eater and helps set the table by collapsing the pocket for pass rushers like Branch. The fact that Branch and Bowers have had such tremendous years over the past two years speaks volumes of Thompson's ability to do his job. He excels against the run and could be a good situational player at the nose for the Redskins, if they seek additional help.
Dwayne Allen, TE, 6'4, 255 lbs: Allen is an underclassmen but could be a 2nd round pick in this year's draft, if he declares. In my opinion he is the best tight end prospect in his class. This past year he racked up eight touchdowns and nearly 600 yards. The one are he needs to vastly improve in is his blocking game. Look for Clemson QB Tajh Boyd to target Allen quite a bit tonight.
West Virginia Pro Prospects
Keith Tandy, CB, 5'10, 200 lbs: Tandy is about a 5th round prospect right now, but he could greatly improve his stock by shutting down the nation's best freshman receiver tonight in Sammy Watkins. He can get caught out of position from time to time, but he has the ability to develop as a corner and can also perform well on special teams in coverage. He's most intriguing attribute is that he is a sure tackler.
Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, 6'3, 245 lbs: Irvin was one of the nation's top pass rusher's in 2010 for the Mountaineers, after taking one of the most twisted paths to Morgantown imaginable. The Senior dropped out of high school, later got his GED, went to community college, committed to Tennessee, de-committed, committed to Arizona State, de-committed, then finally chose West Virginia. He's a wild card in this draft because he hasn't lived up to the hype produced from his 2010 campaign, but he should be a freak at the combine when he showcases his speed. All in all, I see Irvin as an OLB in the NFL and will likely end up somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Don Barclay, OL, 6'4, 310 lbs: Barclay is a 7th round prospect who plays left tackle for the Mountaineers. He is another prospect who could see his stock shoot up tonight if he has a good performance against Clemson's great defensive line. He's not the most athletic lineman, so I wouldn't be surprised if whomever drafts him or signs him in April kicks him inside to guard.
Orange Bowl Prediction: Clemson 35, West Virgina 27
Parks' Prediction Record: 22-8