Alabama vs. Texas: Game Recap & NFL Draft Prospects Review

Alabama vs. Texas Week 2
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Thomas

In spite of all of the freak injuries, Alabama vs. Texas was a great matchup of NFL draft prospects on Saturday. Both teams played stout defense throughout, not allowing either offense to show much explosiveness.

Although the situation looked dire for the Crimson Tide late, the team managed to stave off a potential upset due, in part, to the heroics of their Heisman-winning quarterback. Alabama would take a narrow 20-19 victory over the Longhorns, despite the efforts of the latter’s defense. 

The first drives for both teams ended with a field goal, giving the teams a dead tie. Alabama managed to chip away at the Longhorns’ defense with their rotation of running backs, but came up short. For Texas, transfer quarterback Quinn Ewers looked as good as advertised, making some incredible deep passes. 

Alabama would score again on their second drive with an 81-yard Jace McClellan touchdown run. Ewers would continue his efficient passing on the Longhorns’ second drive before suffering a shoulder injury on a throw-away pass. Alabama EDGE Dallas Turner would get called for a roughing the passer penalty after falling on Ewers in a freak incident. 

Backup Hudson Card would replace Ewers, but also would struggle with an apparent injury through the game. In any case, the Longhorns would finish the drive with a touchdown from Bijan Robinson. 

Neither team would score again in the first half, with the next score coming from Texas on a Brett Auburn field goal. After stopping Alabama’s offense, the Longhorns would score from another field, goal bringing the score to 16-10. 

Down six at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Crimson Tide would march down the field and score on a Jahmyr Gibbs touchdown reception. With the score now 17-16, the Longhorns would respond with a 49-yard field goal giving Texas the lead late into the fourth quarter. 

With 1:29 left of the clock, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young would orchestrate a masterful drive to set up the game-winning field goal. 

Alabama vs. Texas NFL Draft Prospects Review 

It goes without saying that the star of the show Saturday was Bryce Young. Despite not having an incredible statistical outing, the final drive was nothing short of remarkable. Young was surgical with his passes, but also showed off his athleticism, escaping a cornerback sack with a simple duck-and-run. Young is the clear-cut QB1 right now, and it may not be close if he continues on his current track. 

It was a relatively quiet day for Will Anderson, as well. He had a few off-sides penalties, but made up for it with a key 3rd down sack late in the four quarter. 

His teammates Jaylen Moody and Henry To’oTo’o also looked solid in the box. However, the real stars this weekend in the trenches were the Crimson Tide defensive line. DJ Dale and Byron Young did a great job establishing leverage and made some nice plays in the backfield. 

For Texas, Bijan Robinson looked solid but could never find the right crease to run through. Even with a touchdown, it was not the star performance on-lookers would’ve expected. The same could be said for his running mate in Roschon Johnson, who also struggled versus the Alabama front. 

The stars of the Texas offense were wide receivers Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington. Worthy shined early with a couple big catches, but trailed off in the second half. Whittington, however, was a consistent safety blanket for Card, doing plenty of damage in the middle of the field. 

On defense, linebacker Jaylan Ford made a few nice plays in-between the tackles. He looked sharp as he flowed to the football, and was the most impressive player on the Longhorns defense. DeMarvion Overshown was quiet, but still made a few stops here and there. 

Similarly to Alabama, the Longhorn’s defensive line had a few nice plays. EDGE Ovie Oghoufo had a great sack for Texas in the first quarter using his first step quickness. T’Vondre Sweat would have had a safety, but was ruled an incompletion on a weird third down play. Sweat, along with Moro Ojomo and Keondre Coburn, were excellent at stopping the run on Saturday — save for the McClellan touchdown. 

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas: Prospects Review and Game Recap

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas was one of the more exciting matchups in an otherwise bland 3:30 slate of games. Relive the excitement and learn about some of the NFL Draft prospects for each team who stood out in this Cincinnati vs Arkansas review.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Game Recap

The number 23 ranked Bearcats took on the 19th ranked Razorbacks in a game between 2021’s most exciting squads. Both teams lost significant talent to the NFL Draft last year but still kept a large portion of their nucleus.

The first half was a tightly contested match in which defenses reigned supreme. Much of the first quarter was marred by strong defenses, with the only score coming from Arkansas by way of a quarterback touchdown run. Cincinnati almost shortened the score to just four points, however kicker Ryan Coe missed a 25-yard field goal with 0:13 seconds left in the quarter.

The second quarter was much the same as both teams traded punts until the Razorbacks were able to break the stalemate late in the half, putting the score at 14-0. Additionally, Cincinnati would attempt another field goal during the previous possession but missed again, this time from 48 yards out.

The Bearcats finally scored at the beginning third quarter with a Corey Kiner rushing touchdown from the Arkansas five-yard line. Arkansas would then respond with a nice back-shoulder touchdown to Jadon Haselwood. Cincinnati would also return the favor with another touchdown pass to Nick Mardner and would force a fumble on the next Razorbacks possession. This would only lead to a field goal, and Arkansas would extend their lead afterward with a field goal of their own.

With the score 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter, Arkansas continued to extend their lead with another deep touchdown. Cincinnati would bring the score closer with a Leonard Taylor touchdown reception. Despite the efforts of the Bearcats, Arkansas would take possession and drain the clock, finishing the game with a 31-24 victory.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Offensive Prospects Review

KJ Jefferson was the best prospect on the field Saturday, showing off his speed and playmaking ability. He finished the day going 18/26 for 223 yards and three passing touchdowns with one on the ground as well. Jefferson was stellar on the ground yesterday as well, displaying excellent agility to create yards after the play breaks down.

Additionally, Jefferson looks more comfortable navigating the pocket and working through his progressions. It was a great first game for the redshirt junior, and has certainly helped his draft stock.

Tight end Trey Knox was part of Jefferson’s success on Saturday, catching six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Knox is a converted wide receiver who is now the starting tight end for Sam Pittman’s offense. He showed great ball tracking ability and speed, which was on full display during Arkansas’s final touchdown. Knox is certainly a player to keep an eye on from here on out.

The aforementioned Haselwood was also a consistent target, showing off his body control and hand-eye coordination on his touchdown grab. The Oklahoma transfer picked up where he left off with the Sooners, and could be a big contributor in 2022.

Cincinnati looked noticeably weaker after losing a majority of their defensive talent and some key starters on offense. Despite this, there were still a couple of standout performances worth noting here. Tight end Josh Whyle started off with an incredible one-handed grab from an awkward throw by quarterback Ben Bryant. Although he finished without a touchdown, Whyle was a safety blanket underneath and was able to create some nice yards after the catch.

Wide receiver Tyler Scott also had a nice game against Arkansas. Scott is one of the Bearcats’ speedy deep threats that had plenty of opportunities to score, however Cincinnati could not get him the ball. The same could be said for Tre Tucker, who had a solid game but wasn’t able to show off his big play ability.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Defensive Prospects Review

Arkansas’s defensive transfers also flashed a ton during this Week 1 matchup. Defensive ends Jordan Domineck and Drew Sanders both had quarterback sacks while showing off their impressive athleticism.

The last Arkansas prospect to shine was fan-favorite safety Jalen Catalon. Coming off of a season-ending shoulder injury, Catalon had a solid game Saturday, but left due to another injury to his shoulder. He would not return, but still managed to show off his physicality and instincts in his limited reps.

On defense, the star of the show was transfer linebacker Ivan Pace Jr, who took charge in place of the departed Darrian Beavers. Pace had a few nice plays in the box but really shined as a blitzer. His brother Deshawn also flashed a little due to his athleticism, but had an otherwise rough outing Saturday.

Saturday was also a disappointing game from veteran defensive back Arquan Bush. As the most tenured player on the Bearcats’ back end, Bush struggled to stay in phase with his targets and let up some big plays.

Backyard Brawl NFL Draft prospects review: Pitt wins but WVU players shine

College football fans and NFL draft enthusiasts were treated to the return of one of its classic rivalry games this week, as Pittsburgh and West Virginia renewed their famous Backyard Brawl after a decade hiatus. The return was exciting enough that it became the highest-attended Pittsburgh sporting event of all time with over 70,000 fans in attendance.

The game certainly didn’t disappoint, with multiple lead changes and a dramatic finish. West Virginia came up just short (quite literally) in the final seconds to give Pitt the victory, with Mountaineers QB JT Daniels unable to convert on a long fourth down to extend the game. Here is hoping they will play again sooner despite all of the changes to college football happening fast.

I came into the Backyard Brawl with a NFL draft few prospects in mind I was excited to see, but my attention ended up going to a few unexpected players who are now on my radar. Let’s start by taking a look at two players who aren’t draft-eligible, but are guys to watch for the future.

Future NFL Draft Prospects Donaldson and Hammond, Jr Shine in Backyard Brawl

Coming into the game I expected last year’s leading rusher for Pitt, junior RB Israel Abinikanda, to lead the rushing attack for the Panthers. Instead, sophomore RB Rodney Hammond Jr got the bulk of the carries with 16 rushes for 74 yards and two scores.

That stat line isn’t anything special in college football, but the burst and quickness he showed to go along with great toughness between the tackles was impressive to watch. He also had a 49-yard reception that showed off his speed in the open field. Definitely a player I will be keeping an eye on.

West Virginia’s leading rusher on the day also was a surprise, but for a completely different reason. Freshman tight end/running back CJ Donaldson was absolutely electric in his college debut, finishing with seven carries for 125 yards and a TD. He even blocked a punt that led to his only score of the day on a bruising five-yard run.

Listed at 6’2 and 240 pounds, he showed impressive burst and straight-line speed for such a big guy. He used that size to his advantage as well, bouncing off tacklers on his only touchdown of the day. It was a small sample size and he is only a freshman, but don’t be surprised if he is a popular name in NFL draft circles very soon.

Pitt’s 2023 NFL Draft Prospects Fail to Impress in Backyard Brawl

I was excited to watch NFL draft prospects like Habakkuk Baldonado and Calijah Kancey along Pitt’s defensive line after their impressive 2021 seasons, but they failed to make a huge impact in the Backyard Brawl. Baldonado didn’t play as much as I expected, and his most notable play was probably his taunting penalty that got West Virginia off their own goal line.

Kancey already has question marks about his size (6’0, 280), and in this game, it showed up in the run game. He didn’t impact the passing game much either, as he struggled to get off blocks and pressure Daniels. I think both players will ultimately have good seasons, but this wasn’t the best start for either of them.

Kedon Slovis was another player I was curious about now that he moved on from USC. He burst onto the scene with an electric freshman season in 2019, and NFL draft buzz immediately followed. He has regressed every season since, however, failing to establish himself as an NFL-caliber talent.

The shoulder injury he suffered in 2021 seems to have sapped some of his arm talent as well — which wasn’t a huge strength of his to begin with. He played well overall in this game, showing poise and accuracy down the stretch. I doubt he will be a highly-touted NFL draft prospect ever again, but he is worth keeping an eye on.

West Virginia Prospects Shine Despite Loss

The two players I was focusing on going into the game, JT Daniels and Dante Stills, both played well, especially Stills. However, it was a receiver who grabbed my attention early.

Bryce Ford-Wheaton isn’t an unknown player by any means. He was featured on Bruce Feldman’s popular list of freak athletes in college football for a reason. Standing over 6’3 and 225 pounds with surprising speed, he has always had immense potential. His numbers thus far have been lackluster, but the redshirt junior has never had a quarterback who could get him the football consistently.

Now with Daniels in the fold, Ford-Wheaton immediately made an impact with nine grabs for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also dropped an easy catch that was intercepted and returned for the game-winning TD, but nobody is perfect. He was still a big reason they were in the game. If he can avoid drop issues, he could be a name to remember.

Daniels had a good game in his own right, but his lack of elite arm talent is easy to see — just as it was with Slovis. After failing to win the starting job last season with Georgia, this was Daniels last chance to be a starting QB. I think he will be a good player for the Mountaineers, but his NFL prospects seem unlikely to materialize.

NFL Draft Prospect of the Game: Dante Stills

The final and maybe most impressive player I was watching for was Dante Stills. The interior defensive lineman has made a huge impact for the Mountaineers. He was excellent in 2021 for the West Virginia defense, racking up seven sacks and 15 tackles for loss.

At 6’4, 285 pounds, he is an excellent athlete with plenty of quickness and get-off to pressure the QB. What I was most intrigued by in this game, though, was seeing him line up on the edge on early downs, and then kicking inside on passing downs.

That versatility will be important with him being a bit light for an interior player, but his play strength didn’t seem like an issue this game. He finished with a sack and a half to go along with a forced fumble and five total tackles.

The 7 Best Defensive Line matchups in Week One of College Football

College Football Week One
Photo Credit: Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

College football officially kicked off last week with few solid matchups to wet the appetite of football fans. But for NFL draft fans, the Week 1 slate will debut many incredible talents. Although skills players will take center stage, some of the best matchups in college football this week will be between those offensive and defensive line in the trenches.

The 2023 NFL draft boasts some incredible defensive line talent, especially among the edge rushers. Offensive line, while not quite as strong as last year’s groups, looks promising after a summer of film study. The battles these two groups will engage in will intrigue the more keen football fans and offer up some incredible moments.

As such, here are the best defensive line matchups to watch for on the first big Saturday of the 2022 college football season.

The Best of College Football Week 1

Isaiah Foskey (Notre Dame) vs. Paris Johnson Jr./ Dawand Jones (Ohio State)

The most important of the defensive line matchups in Week 1 of college football is a two-for-one special featuring Notre Dame and Ohio State. Isaiah Foskey is widely beloved as one of the top pass rushers in the 2023 NFL draft class, while Paris Johnson and Dawand Jones are the Buckeyes elite duo of bookend tackles that will be charged with containing Foskey. 

Foskey possesses elite athletic traits and can rush from a multitude of different spots, but can also be relied upon for his edge presence. He shows upside with his hand usage in both phases of the defense, but needs to show the most improvement as a pass rusher. He’ll use his own blend of short-area quickness and power to supplant both Buckeye tackles. 

Johnson Jr. is viewed as one of the top offensive linemen in the 2023 NFL draft, showing great explosiveness and athleticism despite his own flaws. Jones is considered a solid day two option that uses overwhelming size to win at the point of attack. Both players will have their hands full, as they must block one of the most explosive pass rushers in the nation. 

Jalen Carter (Georgia) vs. T.J. Bass (Oregon) 

This is the first major interior matchup of the weekend between two excellent NFL draft prospects. Jalen Carter is considered a top three player in the current class, while Tyler Bass is among the top ten at his position. Both will be key to their respective team’s chances at a victory, making for a potentially incredible game. 

Carter plays with an incredible blend of power and finesse, using his overwhelming strength to breach the A-gap of the offensive line. He needs to show progress with his hand usage this season  to cement his status. However, Carter’s athleticism and football IQ will make him a worthy opponent of Bass. 

Bass is arguably one of the best guards in this class, showing great explosiveness, awareness, and positional versatility. He can play in a phone booth, using that same explosiveness to dominate. One is more incredible than the other, but both are exciting players to watch.

Nolan Smith (Georgia) vs. Steven Jones Jr. (Oregon) 

The second-best matchup in Georgia/Oregon is another fantastic matchup between two great prospects. Nolan Smith is aiming to raise his stock after an inspiring 2021 season. He’s “toolsy”, but undersized, for the edge position, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs against the 6-5, 340 Steven Jones. 

Jones played mostly guard in 2021, but is finally getting a chance to play left tackle full time this season. As mentioned previously, Jones is a massive player who wins with size and power from his core. This will be the best edge matchup in this game, however, Jones’s teammate Malaesala Aumaveae-Laulu will face Smith’s teammate in pass rusher Robert Beal. This will be a nice little battle to keep an eye on as well. 

Princely Umanmielen (Florida) vs. Braeden Daniels (Utah) 

As far as NFL futures go, this Saturday night battle has the potential to be one of the most important in the entire 2022 college football season. Umanmielen is a former four-star with plenty of athletic traits and a high ceiling while Daniels could be an ascending prospect in this class at left tackle.

Umanmielen’s teammate Brenton Cox Jr., who is also a highly-touted pass rusher, could also get some looks against Daniels. Although the spotlight will be on the quarterbacks in this game, this trench battle will be an interesting aside to monitor. 

YaYa Diaby (Louisville) vs. Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse) 

This is a personal favorite of mine between two incredible prospects. Diaby is a highly athletic five-technique who flashed plenty of potential in 2021. Bergeron is a powerful offensive tackle who could climb into the top 100 conversation with a good season. Both are high ceiling players that should be on everyone’s radar.

Diaby has little trouble flattening his hips to turn a corner. He’s an older prospect who needs to develop his hands outside of speed-to-power, but has plenty of potential.  Bergeron is a sound technician who has patient hands and a nice anchor that will be used well against Diaby. 

Ikenna Enechukwu (Rice) vs. Andrew Vorhees (USC) 

This is an underrated matchup of Week 1 between one well-liked prospect and one that has zero hype whatsoever. Enechukwu comes from an underpublicized program in Rice, but he’s a talented football player.  He wins with snap timing and length which helps him as a gap penetrator.

Vorhees is a malicious guard who has enough power of his own to star as an interior blocker. Vorhees struggles with awkward hand placement and Enechukwu knows how to manipulate angled pressures. 

Byron Vaughns (Utah State) vs. Tyler Steen (Alabama) 

Our last matchup is by far the most low-key — despite the teams involved. After Evan Neal left for the NFL, Alabama found a suitable replacement in Vanderbilt transfer in Tyler Steen. He’s not an elite athlete like Neal, however Steen is a solid all-around prospect who has a nice anchor in pass protection.

Vaughns is a great athlete who, like many on this list, is a high-ceiling player who can get some serious attention with a stand-out performance. 

Miami Dolphins Rookies: Making the Most of Their Assets in 2022

The Miami Dolphins only had four picks in this past draft, but their rookies are impressive and ready to make an impact in 2022 and beyond.

Skylar Thompson - 2022 Dolphins rookie QB
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Miami, just like the rest of the NFL, has cut their rosters down to 53 players. Every team has surprises across the board, but perhaps none are as pleasant as the Miami Dolphins seeing several late round and undrafted rookies make the team in 2022.

As the roster stands, Miami has five rookies on their 2022 roster. Those include Channing Tindall, Erik Ezukanma, Skylar Thompson, Tanner Conner and Kader Kohou. As a team that only made four selections in the 2022 NFL draft and is looking to compete, it’s impressive that they view these five players, including two UDFAs, as guys who can contribute to winning football.

Each player presents an interesting case and path to production both, today and in the future. It’s only right to show how impressive they’ve been.

Miami Dolphins 2022 Rookie Class

Channing Tindall

The first of the Miami Dolphins rookies selected in 2022 came by way of Georgia, in the form of linebacker Channing Tindall. The third rounder was lauded for his speed, athleticism, and ability to make stops in the open field. Miami was in desperate need of another coverage linebacker, so there was a natural fit.

Channing Tindall has impressive speed.

Since arriving on the team, it’s been a quiet offseason for Tindall. We haven’t heard about many big plays in training camp, or seen them in preseason, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time. His athletic profile alone makes him potentially dangerous down the stretch, and as he gains more knowledge of the playbook and his responsibilities, he has the potential to make an impact.

Erik Ezukanma

After taking Tindall in the third, Miami went to the offensive side of the ball in the fourth, selecting Texas Tech wide receiver Erik Ezukanma. Miami had already spent significant draft capital at the position, signing Cedrick Wilson, and more notably, trading for Tyreek Hill. However, Ezukanma clearly brought a skill set the team lacked. His combination of excellent ball tracking in one-on-one situations and ability after the catch made him a perfect fit for Mike McDaniel’s offense, which thrives on getting players who strive in YAC scenarios.

Erik Ezukanma was impressive in training camp.

That fit has demonstrated itself time and time again throughout camp and the preseason, along with a veteran-like ability to sit down in the soft spot of zone coverage. Day after day in camp, “Eazy-E” was listed as one of the top performers, and even got some run with the starters. He has a skill set unique to not only this team, but most of the league. Thus, there is a clear path to playing time and overall contribution for Ezukanma.

Skylar Thompson

Up next is the most surprising — and impressive storyline — of them all. With one of Miami’s two picks in the seventh round, they decided to take a flier on a quarterback. While many disagreed with the pick, it has been Kansas State signal-caller Skylar Thompson who has shown, more than just about anyone else, why he deserves a spot on the roster.

Thompson had his flashes in camp, showing off his deep ball accuracy and ability to read the field. However, especially in the last game of the preseason, he truly showed that he fits the “gamer” label. Snap after snap, throw after throw, Thompson was getting through his progressions, showing above-average mobility, and, most impressively, showing top-notch deep ball accuracy.

Skylar Thompson has impressive deep ball accuracy.

When Mike McDaniel and general manager Chris Grier discuss Thompson, it’s clear that they feel like they struck gold. With his performances throughout the last month, it was clear that he would’ve been claimed of waivers. In making this roster, he has already exceeded that seventh round value.

Tanner Conner

Following the draft, Miami made it clear that they weren’t done, securing several top-end undrafted free agents. One of these was former Idaho State receiver Tanner Conner.

Conner is the most athletically gifted of the bunch, coming in at 6’3″ and running a 4.37 second 40-yard dash. However, as with any undrafted free agent, there were some questions with his game. In particular, if he could play receiver in the NFL. While physically imposing, he lacked refined route running skills and wasn’t proficient in attacking or high-pointing the football. However, Mike McDaniel had a plan for him, which involved a change of position.

Tanner Conner made the transition to a tight end and fullback role.

Tanner Conner has made the transition to tight end, also taking on the h-back role at times. This move, which perfectly embodied his potential as well as his current skill set, resulted in a newfound ceiling in his game.

Conner made several plays in training camp, and was a clear contributor in the preseason. Thus, Miami felt it was imperative that they keep him on the roster this upcoming season. Chris Grier even mentioned that other teams called to check on his status.

While this move is primarily for the future, Conner was able to come in, change positions, and make the roster all in a matter of months. An extremely impressive feat. If he continues to impress, there is a clear role for his skill set under this regime.

Kader Kohou

The last of the Miami Dolphins rookies from the 2022 class to make the roster might be the one with the biggest role. As a part of the aforementioned UDFA class, Miami signed Texas A&M-Commerce cornerback Kader Kohou.

In a group that featured Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Nik Needham, and high-end draft picks such as Noah Igbinohgene, Kohou was once thought of as an afterthought. However, with injuries to Jones, Needham, and Trill Williams, Miami’s cornerback room is at its thinnest. Luckily, Kohou has burst onto the scene and been a real contributor throughout this preseason.

Kader Kohou is sticky in man coverage.

His ability to stick in man coverage has been impressive, and perfectly fits a scheme that runs a high percentage of press-man and blitz looks. This will come in handy for Miami’s early games, while they eagerly await the return of Byron Jones.

However, Miami hit on yet another defensive back, and it will be exciting to see how Kohou performs, along with the rest of the Miami Dolphins rookies in 2022.