by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
* Auburn DT Nick Fairley has had a great season. He was terrific vs ‘Bama. Nick had 2 sacks and a FF. He just missed at least 2 other sacks. He got penetration on a regular basis and was disruptive for much of the game. Auburn lists him at 6’5, 298. That is a great frame for an NFL DT. Fairley has good strength and power. He’s quick off the ball. He’s been productive this year. Fairley has 20 TFLs. He’s got a FF and even an INT. He’s only a Junior, but you’d have to think he’ll come out early after a great season like this. Should be a high 1st round pick. He’s got the size and ability to appeal to all 32 teams. Nick can play in any scheme.
LG Mike Berry played well for the Tigers in the Iron Bowl. He’s my favorite pure OG in all of college football. Berry had a good block on short TD run by Cam Newton. He had a good seal block on 3rd/5 run late in the game. He’s got the strength to handle DTs one-on-one, but also the agility to pull and block on the move or out in space. He uses his hands well. He has good feet. Berry is 6’3, 316, which for me is ideal size for a G.
QB Cam Newton threw for 216 yards and 3 TDs. He made a terrific throw on 4th down late in the game. That was clutch and showed his ability as a passer. I definitely think he’s a 1st round pick. With all the problems surrounding him and his dad you’d have to imagine Cam will come out. How high does he go? I don’t see him lasting long, assuming the background check on him comes up okay. * Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher has played well in recent weeks. Against Iowa and Michigan he combined to go 9-173-1. Those numbers pale in comparison to someone like Justin Blackmon, but Dane plays in a much more conservative offense. Sanzenbacher is only in the 5’11, 180 range, but he can be a good role player in the NFL. He knows how to work the middle and get open. He has good hands. He can catch the ball in traffic. He adjusts well to the ball. Dane isn’t as big or fast as NFL teams want starters to be. He’s not as thick or strong as you’d prefer a slot guy to be. He’s a good #4 type who could develop into something better. The problem is that he’s not great in any area (hands, quickness, agility, etc.). He also doesn’t have RS experience and that won’t help his cause.
LB Ross Homan hasn’t had a great Senior season for the Buckeyes. He’s been productive, but not the playmaker that he was in 2009. Homan did play well vs Michigan. He was in on 8 tackles and had a FF. The FF came late in the half. Homan shed a block and hit the Michigan runner solidly, knocking the ball out. He still has good ability. Homan missed some time due to injury and just hasn’t been big time player this year. He did have 5 INTs and 5 TFLs in ’09 so you know he can make big plays.
* Ryan Mallett had an odd day against LSU. He was only 13 of 23. He also threw 2 INTs. However, he threw for 320 yards and 3 TDs. It was a day of big plays. Mallett made a couple of great throws that both led to long TDs. He hit WRs on the move with bullets and they were able to turn those passes into TDs with RAC yards. Mallett makes some spectacular throws each week. He also makes a dumb throw or two, but the good far outweighs the bad this year. He’s made real progress. ESPN did a special on him showing that Ryan has matured in the way he carries himself. In the past he was way too emotional and that hurt his play. Arkansas coaches worked with him over the summer to get Ryan to stay more on an even keel and that’s been a big part of his terrific season. Kudos to them and him for working on this issue. Too often college coaches let their stars do what they want and it hurts the kid in the long run. Just see Mack Brown and Vince Young for example.
Mallett is helped by a good OL. The leader of that bunch is OT Demarcus Love. I can’t say RT or LT because Arkansas is one of the few remaining schools that flops guys from side to side. Love is a big, talented player. He goes 6’5, 315. He is athletic enough to be a solid pass blocker, but physical and tough enough to be a good run blocker as well. Arkansas ran behind Love in the 4th Qtr and moved the ball right down the field to put the game away. He was terrific on that drive. You have to love watching a big guy pound on defenders late in the game and wear them down.
* One guy I’ve not mentioned in a while is Maryland WR Torrey Smith. He had a huge game in the win over NC State. Smith caught 14 passes for 224 yards and 4 TDs. Wow. And then some. I watched parts of that game and every time I looked over Smith was making a catch or big play. That’s one of the better performances by a WR that I can think of. Smith is a really good player. He’s 6’1, 205. He’s fast. For the season he averages 16 yards per catch and has 12 TDs. Great deep threat, but good on short routes as well. One of his TDs came on a crossing route at back of endzone. Smith found a way to get open on that play. He has good hands. Another TD came on a fade pass that the QB really threw up high. Smith had to locate the ball, adjust to it, make the grab, and then make sure to get his feet in bounds. He did it all and looked good in the process. It gets even better. Torrey is a big time KOR. He’s run 3 kicks back for TDs in his career. Smith is only a Junior, but like most star receivers you have to think he’s leaning toward coming out. He won’t go as high as Green/Jones, but Smith is a really good player.
* I have to give mention to Oklahoma Senior WR Cameron Kenney. He had 36 career catches prior to Saturday. He came in the game and lit things up. Kenney was 6-141-2. There was one play where he pulled away from a couple of OSU defenders. Very impressive stuff. Kenney isn’t much of a pro prospect, but that game earned him a spot in a training camp. Now we’ll see if he can take advantage of that. I love it when Senior players step up and deliver when called upon.
* Georgia Tech RB Anthony Allen had a monster day in the Jackets tough loss to UGA. Allen had 29 carries for 166 yards. He struggled some early in the year, but was moved to the FB position and thrived. In the last 7 games Allen has 895 yards rushing. He’s at his best as a downhill runner so the FB position in the triple option offense is a perfect fit.
That was a wild game. Ga Tech had more than 500 yards of offense, but still lost. It wasn’t flawless, but it was fun to watch. Dawgs LB Justin Houston didn’t have huge tackle numbers, but he made impact plays. The Junior LB returned a fumble for a TD, had a TFL, and picked off a pass to seal the win. On that play, he just dropped into his zone and the ball came right to him. Houston will be attractive to 3-4 teams looking for OLBs that can get after the QB and have some general LB skills. Houston finished the year with 18.5 TFLs (10 were sacks). That’s the kind of playmaker teams covet.
* Kudos to the Minnesota football team. They suffered some heartbreaking losses early in the year and coach Tim Brewster was fired. The team never gave up. The Golden Gophers beat bowl teams Illinois and Iowa in consecutive weeks to close the year. Great job by the players and interim coach Jeff Horton.
* I’m sorry to see coach Randy Shannon gone. He did some good things at Miami, but I do think the school made the right move. Randy can be a good coach, but I don’t think he was ever going to put that team over the top. Randy recruited well and ran the program the right way, but something was just missing. I hope he gets a chance at another school.
* The Boise State/Nevada game was a classic. Both teams played well. You hated to see someone lose. How can you root against Boise? At the same time, how do you not pull for the underdog to come up with the huge upset? Great game, but I feel badly for the Boise PK. That young man is in for a long couple of years. If Oregon and Auburn win out, maybe that will ease his situation. He still cost them a trip to the Rose Bowl, but losing a title shot would be so much worse.