Week Nine saw me watch eight games full of 2023 NFL Draft prospects.
Each week, I will look back at the top prospect performances from the games I watched the previous week.
WEEK NINE PROSPECT REWIND
LOUISIANA AT SOUTHERN MISS
Read more about the prospects in this game on Saturday.
UTAH AT WASHINGTON STATE
Everyone was surprised (especially the FOX announce crew) that Utah QB Cam Rising did not play. The Utes still won the game but it may have come at a bigger cost. 5th-year TE Dalton Kincaid left in the third quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. Kincaid has shot up my board in recent weeks with his route running and ability to separate. Kincaid had seven catches for 54 yards and a score before leaving with the injury.
LB Mohamoud Diabate (Florida transfer) had an impressive performance against Wazzu. Diabate had six tackles and 1.5 sacks. I have been higher on him than most. So, it was nice to see this kind of performance.
This marked my first viewing of two Cougars prospects. First up is Incarnate Ward transfer, QB Cameron Ward. Ward is an impressive athlete and against Utah was very accurate. He only misfired on four of 31 passes. Ward accounted for 250 yards of offense and two scores. I would like to see Ward challenge himself down the field more. Most of his success comes within ten yards of the line of scrimmage.
I have heard the rave about LB Daiyan Henley. It is was all warranted. The 6th-year linebacker flies around the field making plays and excels in coverage. We expect him to continue to be able to show off that skillset at the Senior Bowl. Henley racked up 12 tackles and a PBU against the Utes.
Keep an eye on 5th-year CB Derrick Langford, Jr. The 6’3” 200-pound corner has nice ball skills to go along with his incredible length. We saw a late rise a year ago from former Washington State corner Jaylen Watson. We could see a similar path for Langford.
NOTRE DAME AT SYRACUSE
Notre Dame edge rusher Isaiah Foskey has been in the first rounds of mock drafts for most of the process. He had a really good game against Syracuse this week. Foskey had three solo tackles, two for loss, and a sack. His big day mostly came at the expense of Syracuse OT Matthew Bergeron.
Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer has been TE1 for most of the process. He has had success this year despite the subpar QB play from the Irish. Mayer caught three balls for 54 yards on seven targets against the Orange.
Syracuse LB Mikel Jones continues to gain my respect. He was a Tasmanian Devil against Notre Dame. Jones recorded 16 tackles (10 solos) against Notre Dame.
OHIO STATE AT PENN STATE
If there was a doubt about why CJ Stroud is listed as QB1 for me, well you could see the NFL arm on display. Stroud made several tight window throws on his way to 354 yards and a TD against Penn State.
It doesn’t hurt when you have two offensive tackles who could be in the top 10 at their position in the 2023 NFL Draft. Both Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones have a chance to be selected high in the upcoming class.
Penn State 3rd-year WR Parker Washington had a breakout game against the Buckeyes. Washington is built like a running back (5’10” 212) and can get physical at the catch point. We have seen receivers like this have had success in recent seasons (Deebo Samuel, Treylon Burks).
CINCINNATI AT UCF
This was my first chance this year to get an eye on Cincinnati LB Ivan Pace Jr. The 4th-year prospect did not disappoint with his sideline-to-sideline maneuverability. Pace finished the week nine contest with 11 tackles (seven solos) and a PBU.
I have been moderately intrigued with UCF defensive lineman Ricky Barber since last season. The former Western Kentucky prospect shows flashes of dominance at times. The Cincinnati game showed those bursts. Barber had three solo tackles and batted passes against the Bearcats.
MISSOURI AT SOUTH CAROLINA
Missouri attacked the South Carolina offensive tackles with evil intent on Saturday and it worked. DJ Coleman (Jacksonville State transfer) and Isaiah McGuire combined for seven solo tackles and three sacks.
5th-year OT Javon Foster looked outstanding against what had been an improving Gamecocks pass rush. The 6’5” 320-pound prospect has a huge wing span and sweet feet for the position. He is climbing my rankings this week.
The criminal usage of 3rd-year TE prospect Jaheim Bell continues. I complained earlier this season when South Carolina was using him more as a running back than a tight end. Now he is barely getting on the field. Last year, Bell and WR Josh Vann combined for 73 receptions, 1176 yards, and ten scores. This year: 21 catches, 247 yards, and ZERO touchdowns. Have the players regressed in talent? The answer is an unequivocal no.
However, the quarterback may have gotten worse. This seems crazy to think especially when you get a former 5-star transfer at the position who at one time could have been the #1 overall pick. Spencer Rattler has easily been at the very least the second most disappointing thing this year for South Carolina. The other has easily been the play-calling of offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield. Multiple times during the second half of the Missouri game I searched the name Satterfield on Twitter. The results were NSFW.
— Brian Bosarge (@DeepFriedDraft) October 29, 2022
— Brian Bosarge (@DeepFriedDraft) October 29, 2022
To finish up on Bell, I expect that if he doesn’t enter the NFL Draft, he will enter the transfer portal before the spring semester.
PITTSBURGH AT NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina offense was humming against Pitt. This is thanks to a pair of WR prospects in Josh Downs (11-102 2 TD) and Antoine Green (10-180 2 TD). I have been high on Downs all season. But Green has a nice size and showed impressive ball-tracking skills against Pitt.
I was impressed by the ability to gain yards after contact by Pitt RB Israel Abanikanda. The 3rd-year player had a hell of a day against North Carolina with 26 carries for 127 yards and three rushing TDs. The crazy thing is that this game is probably barely in his top three for the season. Abanikanda went for 320 yards and SIX touchdowns against Virginia Tech. He had 177 yards and four scores against FCS Rhode Island. Abanikanda is rising on my board.
Pitt OT Carter Warren is out for the season with an undisclosed injury. He could have played in the Senior Bowl last year before heading back to school. I am unsure if the injury will keep him out of this year’s game.
SAN DIEGO STATE AT FRESNO STATE
After missing several weeks with an injury, QB Jake Haener returned for Fresno State. And he looked…rusty. Haener completed 35/46 throws for 402 yards with three TD passes and two picks. The Bulldogs made an incredible comeback to win the game over San Diego State.
After just being mentioned on our podcast this week, Fresno State OT Dontae Bull went down with what looks to be a serious leg injury. Bull had his right leg stabilized and was carted off the field in the second quarter.
Check back on Saturday for another edition of Sun Belt/Small School Scouting.