The college season is completely over. We don’t have a full list of the early entrants, but we know a lot of them. There will be a ton of key prospects leaving early, making this a deep, talented class. Some key guys are staying.
Alabama TE O.J. Howard had a great showing in the national title game. For some reason, Clemson left him wide open a few times. Howard turned those into big plays and that was a huge part of the Crimson Tide’s win. Howard has a great combination of size and speed. He looks like a blocking TE when he walks on the field, but then you see him run in space and get a feel for just how athletic he is.
Deadline for underclassmen to declare is Monday and things can always change, but I'm told O.J. Howard and Reuben Foster also plan to return
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) January 16, 2016
I checked to be sure. Jonathan Allen's tweet is legit. He's told Alabama officials that he plans to return for his senior season.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) January 16, 2016
Sounds like Bama will be loaded again next year.
Clemson has several underclassmen taking off for the league.
CB Mackensie Alexander
DE Shaq Lawson
DE Kevin Dodd
LB Travis Banks
S Jayron Kearse
S T.J. Green
Alexander is a great prospect. He is only a Redshirt Sophomore, but showed NFL ability all season. You can’t help but think of Richard Sherman when you watch him play. Alexander is talented, but is also tough and ultra-competitive. He talks trash all game long and legitimately wants to dominate his guy for 60 minutes. Alexander suffered a minor injury in the title game, but will be fine. Expect him to be a high pick.
Lawson and Dodd are very good players as well. Lawson led the NCAA in TFLs and Dodd has great size at 6-5, 275. NFL teams are going to like both players quite a bit.
Enough with the kids. Let’s talk about some Seniors.
Stanford LT Kyle Murphy is a fun guy to watch. He looks like the prototypical OL prospect. Murphy is 6-7, 301. He looks like a giant TE. Put on the tape and you see a really gifted athlete. He has good feet and looks natural in pass protection. Effort isn’t an issue on run blocks, but he does need to get stronger. One of my favorite things is to watch him in short yardage situations. Murphy gets low and explodes off the ball. Very effective.
Murphy has started at LT for the past 2 years. You wish he had more experience, since OL is one of those spots where every snap can be huge in learning how to play. That said, you have to keep in mind that Stanford has had a lot of good O-linemen in recent years. Hard to be a 4-year starter at a school that has good upperclassmen already starting.
I’m looking forward to seeing Murphy in Mobile for the Senior Bowl.
NDSU star Carson Wentz missed most of the 2015 season due to a wrist injury, but he returned to start in the FCS title game and led the Bison to a commanding 37-10 victory over Jacksonville State.
Wentz didn’t post great numbers (16-29-197 with 1 TD, 2 INTs). He was rusty, to be sure. Still, it was good to see him on the field making some impressive throws and helping his team to win. Wentz had some really good moments. He was accurate on some short, quick throws. His timing was off down the field, but that’s to be expected when you miss so much time. Wentz showed off his athleticism by running for a TD.
If you just watch him, you can see that he looks the part of an NFL QB in terms of size, athleticism, mechanics and other physical traits. He will also be in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Really excited to see him.
Michigan State QB Connor Cook is not going to play in the Senior Bowl. Dumb mistake. Cook just wrapped up a good career, but he is hardly such a strong prospect that he can afford to skip the key all-star game.
Cook has moments when he looks great, but there are also times in games when he does not look like a talented, veteran QB. I think he is a mid-round prospect with upside rather than a top tier guy. The Senior Bowl was a key opportunity for him and he turned it down. Not a good sign.
Back to the underclassmen for a second.
— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) January 12, 2016
Billings is incredibly impressive. I think he’ll be a Top 20 pick, and possibly higher that. He is powerful, quick and athletic. I haven’t studied him at length, but he is one of those special players who just jumps out at you when you watch him.
All 32 teams will have interest in this guy. Can be a stud NT or DT.
I’m not a big fan of Texas Tech OT Le’Raven Clark. Doesn’t have smooth feet.
Michigan QB Jake Rudock will be at the Shrine Game. He was awful early in the season, but got better and better. Curious to see how he does in the all-star game. Honestly, I’m not real sure what to make of Rudock at this point.
TE Kyle Carter showed a ton of promise early in his Penn State career. He looked outstanding as a Freshman. Oddly, he got worse instead of getting better in the next 3 years. Carter will play at the Shrine Game this week. I hope he’s able to impress because the young man has a lot of talent. Something just wasn’t working at PSU after that first season.
It will be interesting to see what happens with LB Jaylon Smith. He’s headed to the NFL, but suffered a major knee injury in his bowl game. Top 10 pick if healthy, but clearly he’s not. Where will he go?