I’m excited to see the first College Football Playoff rankings next week. It will answer a lot of questions fans have about how the teams stack up. Cincinnati might not be among the top four teams after a close game against a Navy squad with only one win. Despite their one loss, Ohio State has the best offense in the country and might be in the top four. They could leapfrog Oklahoma who was on upset alert for the better part of their game against Kansas.
This upcoming weekend will feature a top-ten matchup between Michigan and Michigan State and what should’ve been a top-ten matchup between Ohio State and Penn State, but the Nittany Lions got upset by Illinois in a nine-overtime thriller. Another ranked-on-ranked matchup that should be good is the potent offense of Ole Miss vs. a good defense and solid running game of Auburn.
I want to focus on a few players from the past week who stood out to me, especially those who should be draft eligible at the end of the season. Feel free to add players in the comments that stood out to you this week and you think can help the team.
Jake Haener, QB – Fresno State
For fans of Taylor Heinicke’s intangibles like heart, guts, toughness, let me introduce you to Jake Haener. Haener is not the biggest prospect with the strongest arm, but he goes all out to win. His signature moment so far this year was fighting through a hip injury to upset UCLA on the road. This past weekend, Haener went up against Carson Strong and Nevada in a Mountain West showdown. Haener did his part to secure the victory by going 26 of 38 for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
Jake Haener throws it up for Keric Wheatfall who fights through the pass interference for the Fresno State TD. Great start to the 2nd half by the Bulldogs.— CFB Blitz (@BlitzCfb) October 24, 2021
FRESNO STATE 21
Ainias Smith, WR – Texas A&M
A shoutout to KyleSmith4GM for mentioning Ainias Smith as a prospect to watch weeks ago. He is a smaller, quicker receiver that could be productive out of the slot or provide depth the to receiving corps. Why he caught my eye this week is his special teams value. While his two catches for 28 yards isn’t special, his 95-yard punt return for a touchdown was impressive enough earn him SEC Special Teams Player of the Week. While I’ve been happy with Deandre Carter’s production as a returner and receiver, Smith may prove to be an upgrade in that area.
Ainias Smith is still amazing.— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) October 23, 2021
95-yard touchdown to start the South Carolina game pic.twitter.com/i65yZdEEcX
Derrick Deese, Jr., TE – San Jose State
This season has been somewhat disappointing for San Jose State. After going undefeated in 2020, they are 4-4. This hasn’t stopped the team from playing hard and Derrick Deese, Jr. is arguably their best offensive player. Against UNLV, Deese pulled in six catches for 106 yards. He does a great job of finding open spaces in the defense, using his hands to pluck catches out of the air, and is tough to bring down.
Last night against UNLV, Derrick Deese Jr. had 3 receptions of 20+ yards— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 22, 2021
Most by any TE since 2019 pic.twitter.com/VxuHDUZPOU
Charles Cross, OT – Mississippi State
There are many who think Charles Cross will be a first round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s not hard to see why. The redshirt sophomore is big and athletic. Against Vanderbilt, he earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors. He does a good job of getting his hands on rushers and using his arms to keep them off his body. My favorite attribute of his is his footwork. He is light on his feet and moves them quickly, allowing him to mirror rushers and rarely give up pressures. I’d like to see him anchor better in pass protection and play with a little more edge.
Miss. St. OT Charles Cross is generating first round buzz and rightfully so. He looked the part against Alabama. Easy athleticism, and football IQ, but it’s his hand timing, and accuracy that are easily his two best traits. pic.twitter.com/Vr6M7SiV8j— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) October 20, 2021
Cam’ron Carter, LB – Colorado State
It can be tough finding a linebacker with a blend of the ability to play around the line of scrimmage and drop into coverage. Cam’ron Carter may have that skillset. The senior was productive against Utah State with 14 total tackles, a sack, and an interception. Carter accelerates quickly when shooting gaps around the line of scrimmage and has the ability to drop into coverage.
another Interception by a Carter as Cam’Ron collects one pic.twitter.com/PgF3sD3QTu— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) October 23, 2021
Dallas Branch, CB – San Diego State
San Diego State is one of the few undefeated teams left in college football and defense is their calling card. Dallas Branch is a talented junior who had a good game against Air Force. Branch tallied three total tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. He might make a good slot cornerback that can play around the line of scrimmage as he is tougher than you might think for a 5’11”, 185 lbs. player.
Feel free to add players in the comments that stood out to you this week and you think can help the team.