Each week of the college football season @pacificscouting and @DFF_BMack will review the college football week that was. We will regularly bring you our favorite performances, biggest disappointments, and most pleasant surprises.
Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State 2017
5’9″ 212 lbs
40 rushes for 217 yards, 2 rush TDs, 4 rec 47 yards
McNichols is another back on the rise in this loaded class. He has some of the best footwork I have seen from all of the draft-eligible backs. He’s very light on his toes and glides in and out of defenders while still being a very tough guy to bring down. McNichols showed up big time for the Broncos in a close game against Colorado State as he accounted for 60% of the Broncos yards on offense. He still managed to rack up 5.4 yards per carry on 40 attempts largely due to an 80-yard touchdown run which showed the type of long speed he possesses. The Broncos jumped out to a big lead early and had to hold off Colorado State towards the end by continuously handing McNichols the ball. He’s a guy that can play all three downs and added on to his 13.2 yards per catch on the season with 4 catches and 47 yards in this game. I am more impressed with him each time I watch. I know this class is absolutely loaded, but wherever McNichols ends up he’ll have a shot at being a feature back.
Richie James, WR, MTSU, 2017
5’9″ 180 lbs
16 receptions for 223 yards, 2 TDs
Richie James has been on my radar for a while now. He was my very first DFF #DevyDiamond. I profiled him last month. Saturday, versus Western Kentucky, in a game that was always going to be a shootout, James once again surpassed the towering standards that he set for himself. His 16 catches and 223 yards were both new career highs and he matched his career high with 2 receiving touchdowns. He also drew a pass interference in the end zone to set up another score. There’s not much that I haven’t already said about James. He just keeps getting better. Through just 19 career games, all of MTSU’s career receiving records are in jeopardy of falling. He’s currently 4th in catches (164) and yards (2,110) and 6th in receiving touchdowns (13).
Most Pleasant Surprises
Carlos Henderson, WR, LA Tech 2017
5’11” 191 lbs
12 rec, 326 yards, 5 TDs
Henderson is a huge surprise for most, but he’s now torched defenses in back to back games. Henderson is a player I have been advocating for since spring when he caught my eye while scouting former LA Tech running back Kenneth Dixon. He was second in the nation in yards per reception for players with 35+ catches in 2015. I was waiting for him to breakout this season and he definitely has with his recent success. Henderson destroyed the Minutemen’s defense for 326 yards and 5 scores. His performance this past weekend now puts him atop the nation in receiving touchdowns and third in receiving yards. I can’t help but compare Carlos Henderson to John Ross, they’re practically the same player but Henderson will come at a much cheaper price. Henderson has excellent body control, ball skills, and tracking ability. He’s a very explosive player with a ton of shiftiness which helps him rack up yards after the catch. My favorite play from Henderson had to be a simple WR screen that he took to the end zone blowing by defenders running across the field for a 50-yard score. He also showed in the game that he’s able to create a ton of separation at the top of his routes which helps his case as a complete WR who doesn’t rely strictly on his track speed. There is a lot to like about this prospect and he shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Sam Darnold, QB, USC, 2018
6’4″ 225 lbs
20 completions for 235 yards, 5 TDs, 6 rushes for 54 yards
It’s not surprising that Sam Darnold has saved USC’s season. The only surprise here is that he threw 5 touchdown passes in just over a half of football against Arizona. USC put up 34 first half points behind the arm of their stud redshirt freshman quarterback. The three-star prospect has displayed his athletic ability, strong arm, anticipation and efficiency since taking over the starting job from Max Browne. On the season, Darnold has thrown 13 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. However, he struggled early on with fumbles, but as he’s corrected the issue, USC has reeled off three straight wins.
Most Disappointing Performances
Mack Hollins, WR, North Carolina 2017
6’4″ 210 lbs
1 rec, 49 yards
Mack Hollins has had a very underwhelming start to his Senior year. He is a guy that I was very high on coming into 2016 and outside of his touchdowns, he’s been quite the disappointment. With a very promising quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, I was looking for Hollins to have a tremendous year. Maybe Trubisky has a better rapport with his other receivers or Hollins just isn’t the player I thought he was. Unfortunately, Hollins ended up breaking his collar bone and has been declared out for the season. He totaled 16 receptions for 309 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season. His lone reception in this game came on a 3rd & 7 towards the end of the first half which got the Tar Heels down to Miami’s 6-yard line and it eventually led to a touchdown which put them up 20-3. They would go on to win 20-13 so that play was huge in determining the outcome. Hopefully, scouts have seen enough upside from Hollins to give him an opportunity at the next level. He’s an exceptional athlete with big play ability, but still very raw as a receiver.
Deshone Kizer, Notre Dame, QB, 2017
6’4″ 230 lbs
14 completions for 154 yards, 2 INTs, 11 rushes for 83 yards, 1 rush TD
Just as I was ready to move Kizer up in my Devy rankings, he goes out and lays an egg. Technically, this was his second straight disappointing performance, but we’ll ignore the outing versus NC State since that game was played with Hurricane Matthew nearby. Against Stanford, Kizer completed just over 50% of his passes for a measly 154 yards. However, he was the only bright spot in the run game. He ran one in from 8 yards out to cap a scoring drive following a Stanford fumble. He was never able to get anything going through the air, though. After Notre Dame controlled the first half, Kizer started the 3rd quarter by staring down St. Brown and severely underthrowing a skinny post. Stanford intercepted the pass, returned it for a touchdown and the comeback was on. Kizer threw his second interception on the next series and was pulled in favor of Malik Zaire. Brian Kelly said the move was to provide a spark, to energize the offense and that Kizer is still the starter going forward.