College football’s “Week 0” is officially in the books, so we’re on to “Week 1!” In this weekly article series, I will bring you the top dynasty prospects to watch in nationally televised college football games. Who’s going to be the sleepers of next year’s rookie draft? Check back here every week for my ‘Weekly Watch’ series before you head into the weekend.
We have a full slate of games taking place in the official Week One of the college football season. I’ll do my best to only highlight the top prospects this week since we have such a large schedule of games. I don’t want to make this list too long because I could go on forever… Everything kicks off on Thursday night, August 29th on ESPN with UCLA squaring off against Cincinnati, and we finish off on Monday night, September 2nd with Louisville hosting Notre Dame. It should make for a great weekend of games with a ton of prospects to keep an eye on. Hopefully, this can serve as a place for you to refer back to as you sit down to watch each game.
How this article works:
I’ll give you the network, time, and teams playing in nationally televised games. Below that, I’ll list the respective schools’ prospects who are worth mentioning, their position, and the year they are eligible to enter the NFL Draft. This week I’ll even have some honorable mentions below each game.
UCLA @ Cincinnati
Thursday, 8/29 | 7:00 PM EST
Joshua Kelley #27, RB 2020
Kelley transferred to UCLA from UC Davis in 2017 and redshirted during the season he was required to sit out. He came onto the scene at UCLA last year in his third game as a redshirt junior, rushing for 124 yards on 12 carries versus Colorado. Kelley was sidelined twenty days and fifteen practices by a knee injury during camp. He is one of UCLA’s leaders and their top offensive player — last season he rushed for 1,243 yards and 12 touchdowns on 225 carries, adding 193 yards through the air on 27 receptions. Kelley will be an integral piece of the UCLA offense in 2019.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson #1, QB 2021
It was a rocky start to Thompson-Robinson’s freshman season last year as UCLA lost its first five games before “DTR” lead them to two straight victories over California and Arizona. He suffered a shoulder injury last year versus Arizona causing him to only start one more game the rest of the season. Dorian will be using his legs more this year in the zone-read scheme. DTR hopes to lead a turnaround at UCLA
Also, if you haven’t seen “DTR” on his Youtube channel you should check it out!
Michael Warren II #3, RB 2020
The former Ohio AP Mr. Football award winner, Michael Warren, played right away for Cincinnati as a freshman from Toledo, OH in 2017 running for 324 yards on 54 carries along with 5 catches and 57 yards through the air. In 2018 he established himself as the lead back and the leader of the offense running for 1,329 yards and 19 touchdowns — averaging 5.45 yards per carry. Keep an eye on Warren in this matchup with UCLA, he torched them for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns last year.
Kazmier Allen #19, RB UCLA 2021
Michael Ezeike #21, WR UCLA 2021
S. Dakota St. @ Minnesota
Thursday, 8/29 | 9:00 PM EST
Tyler Johnson #6, WR 2020
For his career, Johnson has 127 catches for 1,987 yards and 20 TDs. Tyler Johnson seems to open up at home with a bang every year. Last year, he had 100 yards and two touchdowns. The year before that he had 141 yards and one touchdown. Johnson chose to stay for his senior year, so you can imagine just how important this season is to him. Johnson could’ve been the top WR prospect in last year’s class. He should dominate this matchup.
Mohamed Ibrahim #24, RB Minnesota 2020
Rashod Bateman #13, WR Minnesota 2021
Utah @ BYU
Thursday, 8/29 | 10:15 PM EST
Zack Moss #2, RB 2020
A knee injury (meniscus) last season forced him to miss the last five games of the year, but Moss has his sights set on Utah’s career rushing record this season. He needs 569 yards to break Eddie Johnson’s 30-year-old record. He could also become the first Utah player to rush for 1,000 yards in three seasons. Moss had a chance to turn pro last season, but he wanted to come back and help his team win a Pac-12 championship game, where they lost to Washington last year 10-3.
Matt Bushman #89, TE 2020
Bushman was a freshman All-American in 2017 after he had 529 yards on 49 receptions and three touchdowns. 2018 was a bit of a let down for Bushman, only catching 29 balls for 511 yards and two touchdowns. His 17.62 yards per catch led all FBS tight ends last season. Bushman is a multi-talented athlete, he also played on the baseball team for BYU in 2017. In last year’s matchup versus the Utes, Matt had his best game catching six passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. He’ll look to be the security blanket for the quarterback, Zach Wilson.
Zach Wilson #1, QB 2021
Zach is the youngest quarterback to ever start at BYU. In last year’s Potato Bowl victory, he threw 18 passes and completed 18 passes. Those 18 completions resulted in 317 yards and four touchdowns in a victory over Western Michigan. In his freshman season last year he threw for 1,578 yards in nine games with a 12:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio and averaged 8.7 yards per attempt. Wilson committed to Boise State in 2017, but rescinded his commitment after BYU came through with an offer late in the year after old offensive coordinator, Ty Detmer, was let go. Wilson ultimately wanted to stay closer to home. He’ll look to lead BYU to a victory against arch-rival, Utah, in this great matchup.
Wisconsin @ South Florida
Friday, 8/30 | 7:00 PM EST
Jonathan Taylor #23, RB 2020
The reigning Doak Walker Award winner has amassed 4,171 yards already in only two seasons, the most ever by a player through their sophomore year. Taylor is one of the top 2020 eligible prospects in college football. It’s rare that you have a player with a mixture of strength, speed, and balance like Jonathan Taylor possesses. It’s been reported that Taylor spent a great deal of training this offseason refining his pass-catching ability – after making only eight receptions in 2018. Look for Taylor to rack up a ton of yards in the season opener.
Jake Ferguson #84, TE 2020
Ferguson had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb on August, 13th, but he should be good for Friday night. Ferguson was second on the team in catches last season with 36 which resulted in 456 yards. At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Ferguson has great size for a tight end. His skill set is very balanced — he plays like a traditional in-line tight end with the ability to block and catch. You’ll see his name toward the top of most eligible tight end draft lists.
Danny Davis #6, WR Wisconsin 2020
Purdue @ Nevada
Friday, 8/30 | 9:00 PM EST
Rondale Moore #4, WR 2021
Rondale Moore is good at football. He is one of three true freshmen to ever win consensus All-American honors. Moore led the NCAA with 114 catches and set a single-season Purdue record with 2,215 all-purpose yards. He also scored 14 total touchdowns. ESPN ranked Moore as the #1 most exciting player to watch in college football this season. This information alone tells you who your eyes need to follow Friday night when the Boilermakers take on Nevada.
Brycen Hopkins #89, TE Purdue 2020
David Bell #3, WR Purdue 2022
Milton Wright #1, WR Purdue 2022
Colorado @ Colorado St.
Friday, 8/30 | 10:00 PM EST
Laviska Shenault Jr. #2, WR 2020
Shenault has been named to the Maxwell, Walter Camp, Biletnikoff and Paul Hornung Award watch lists for this season. He became a household name last year after hauling in 86 receptions for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns — while adding five more scores on the ground. Shenault’s elite size (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) and quickness allow him to win in many different ways. He projects to be one of the top receivers taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, so I suggest you pay attention to #2 when Colorado has the ball — it’s probably going his way.
Steven Montez #12, QB Colorado 2020
K.D. Nixon #3, WR Colorado 2020
Warren Jackson #9, WR Colorado St. 2020
Oklahoma St. @ Oregon St.
Friday, 8/30 | 10:30 PM EST
Tylan Wallace #2, WR 2020
Wallace was one of the best receivers in the country last year; being one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wideout. Last year, Wallace had 86 catches for 1,491 yards and 12 TDs — giving him the fifth-most receiving yards in a season by a Cowboys receiver. New offensive coordinator, Sean Gleeson knows he’ll have to move Wallace around a lot in the offense to help put him in winning situations and make it harder on the defense this year. Everyone will have eyes on #2 on Friday night.
Chuba Hubbard #30, RB 2020
With Justice Hill entering the NFL, the next man up for Oklahoma St. is Chuba Hubbard. Chuba was named a preseason All-Big 12 pick by the media, and he’s already stepped up into a leadership position with the team. When current Baltimore Ravens’ rookie running back, Justice Hill, went out with a rib injury in Bedlam. Hubbard stepped in and rushed for 104-yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries against the Sooners. In the final four games of the season, including the AutoZone Liberty Bowl win over Missouri, Hubbard rushed 77 times for 438-yards and five touchdowns, good for a per-carry-average of 5.7-yards as the workhorse in the run game. His career average is 6.0-yards a carry. Hubbard will be another key factor in this matchup
C.J. Moore #35, WR Oklahoma St. 2021
Isaiah Hodgins #17, WR Oregon St. 2020
Ole Miss @ Memphis
Saturday, 8/31 | 12:00 PM EST
Patrick Taylor Jr. #6, RB 2020
Taylor could have entered the NFL Draft like former teammates Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard, but instead, he decided to stay for his final year with the Tigers. He figured with both of them leaving, his stock was more likely to rise than fall. He is a 6-foot-3, 223-pound battering ram with a nose for the end zone. He’ll be adding to his career totals of 2,534 yards and 31 touchdowns this season. According to Mel Kiper Jr., Taylor is the fifth-best running back prospect in the country this season.
Scottie Phillips #22, RB 2020
Phillips is expected to be the core of the Ole Miss offense this season. He ran for 928 yards last year on 153 carries and scored 12 touchdowns. It’s been said that Rich Rodriguez plans to put the ball in Scottie’s hands over 30 times a game this year. We’ll see if he stays true to his word.
Jerrion Ealy #9, RB 2022
Ealy was the 29th best overall recruit in the 2019 class and the 3rd highest ranked running back according to 247Sports. The former five-star recruit should see playing time behind Phillips this season. He’s an electric and explosive player at only 5-foot-9, 180 pounds. Rich Rodriguez is going to line Ealy up all over the field, so don’t be surprised when he has over 100 all-purpose yards in this game.
Joey Magnifico #86, TE Memphis 2020
Damonte Coxie #10, WR Memphis 2020
Braylon Sanders #13, WR Ole Miss 2020
Matt Corral #2, QB Ole Miss 2021
Elija Moore #8, WR Ole Miss 2021
Duke @ Alabama
Saturday, 8/31 | 3:30 PM EST
Jerry Jeudy #4, WR 2020
Jeudy is arguably college football’s most talented wide receiver. He enters his first year of being draft-eligible after winning the Biletnikoff Award last year. Jeudy was the number 3-ranked wideout in the 2017 class, a five-star and the 21st-best player overall per the 247Sports Composite and has a skill set that makes NFL personnel salivate. His ability to create separation with crispy routes, track the ball down the field, and create yards after the catch is elite. Look for Jeudy to have a huge game in this one.
Tua Tagovailoa #13, QB 2020
Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Tua Tagovailoa, is the front-runner to be first off the board in 2020’s NFL Draft. The 6-foot-1 Samoan southpaw is one of the most accurate throwers of the football in college football. He has some lethal weapons to get the ball to in Jeudy, Ruggs, Waddle, Smith, and others. Tua will probably only play three quarters in this one, as most people are expecting a blow out versus Duke.
Note: I could continue to go on with some other important prospects to pay attention to at Alabama, but for the sake of length — check out the ‘honorable mentions’ list below. As a rule of thumb, if Alabama is on the TV — set your DVR to ‘record.’
Tyrell Shavers #14, WR Alabama 2020
Najee Harris #22, RB Alabama 2020
Devonta Smith #6, WR Alabama 2020
Henry Ruggs III #11, WR Alabama 2020
Jaylen Waddle #17, WR Alabama 2021
Deon Jackson #25, RB Duke 2020
Noah Gray #87, TE Duke 2020
Oregon vs. Auburn (neutral site)
Saturday, 8/31 | 7:30 PM EST
Justin Herbert #10, QB 2020
Justin Herbert is entering his fourth season as Oregon’s starting quarterback, and he’s considered to be one of the top NFL quarterback prospects eligible for 2020’s draft. Herbert is coming off a tremendous junior season, where he threw for 3,151 yards, 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He’ll be without last year’s top target, Dillon Mitchell, who is now with the Minnesota Vikings. This matchup will be a tough one to start the season for Herbert and the Ducks — Auburn’s defensive line is one of the best in the country.
Bo Nix #10, QB 2022
Nix is a five-star freshman making his college debut on the big stage in week one of the college football season, something no Auburn quarterback has done since Travis Tidwell in 1946. Bo should have plenty of protection on Saturday. Auburn returns five fifth-year senior starters on their offensive line. He’s the son of former Tigers quarterback Patrick Nix — who coached at the college level for 17 years and was a decorated Alabama high school player. Nix will definitely be tested by facing a top 15 team in Oregon to start his career.
Seth Williams #18, WR 2021
Last season as a true freshman, Williams made big plays for the Auburn offense on his way to 26 catches for 534 yards and five touchdowns. Williams is working on becoming a more complete player in 2019. “…I’ve got to understand the game more, understand reading defenses and knowing what they’re going to do before they do it,” Williams said of what he learned as a freshman. Seth has missed some practice time while dealing with a sore back this preseason, but he’ll be ready to go in this matchup. He’s considered one of the better wide receivers from the 2021 eligible wide receiver class. He and Bo Nix should be able to build some nice chemistry over these next couple of seasons, and it’ll start here against Oregon.
Jatarvious Whitlow #28, RB Auburn 2020
Anthony Schwartz #5, RB Auburn 2021
CJ Verdell #7, RB Oregon 2020
Jacob Breeland #27, TE Oregon 2020
Fresno St. @ USC
Saturday, 8/31 | 10:30 PM EST
Amon-Ra St. Brown #8, WR 2021
Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was an honorable mention for the Pac-12’s Freshman Offensive Player of the Year after leading USC with 60 receptions, totaling 750 yards and three touchdowns in his debut season. Now that Graham Harrell is bringing the Air Raid system to USC, Browns’ production should only increase. Amon-Ra and quarterback, JT Daniels, will continue to build upon the chemistry they were developing last season.
JT Daniels #18, QB 2021
JT was one of the most sought after quarterbacks in high school after being named the 2017 Gatorade National Player of the Year as a junior at perennial power Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. He left high school a year early and was named the Trojans’ starting quarterback a week before 2018’s season opener. He showed off his raw talent last year, but he was pretty inconsistent along the way. As a freshman, he threw for 2,672 yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 games. Daniels is a pocket passer with the ability to fit the ball into tight windows or put touch on the ball when he needs to. He had to earn the starting job again this year in camp. He hopes to improve upon last year and clean up some of the mental errors that led USC to a 5-7 season.
Tyler Vaughns #21, WR USC 2020
Michael Pittman Jr. #6, WR USC 2020
Stephen Carr #7, WR USC 2020
Devon Williams #2, WR USC 2021
Markese Stepp #30, RB USC 2021
Houston @ Oklahoma
Sunday, 9/1 | 7:30 PM EST
D’Eriq King #4, QB 2020
King scored 50 touchdowns in 2018—36 passing and 14 rushing—many of them the result of his electric improvisation. King posted these numbers in only 10-and-a-half games. He tore his meniscus in his right knee in mid-November, or else he may have broken Colt Brennan’s FBS record of 63 touchdowns. King is an undersized quarterback and had to earn his way to becoming Houston’s signal-caller. Early in his career, after Houston suffered some injuries at wide receiver, King was asked to make a switch and play wideout for a bit by former coach, Tom Herman. He burst onto the scene against Texas State after he caught a touchdown, threw a touchdown on a trick play and returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score. Now with head coach Dana Holgerson and his Air Raid offense, King should light up the stat sheet. Look for a possible upset here against a weak Oklahoma defense.
Jalen Hurts #1, QB 2020
Graduate transfer quarterback, Jalen Hurts, was named the starting quarterback for the Sooners and also a team captain. Most of you will know him from his heroics at Alabama helping them to SEC Championships and National Championship appearances. Jalen went 26-2 as a starter and accounted for 71 total touchdowns in three seasons with the Crimson Tide. Stepping into a role that saw the last two quarterbacks — Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray — win the Heisman Trophy, Hurts has big shoes to fill.
CeeDee Lamb #2, WR 2020
Lamb is the Sooners’ top wideout and go-to guy in Lincoln Riley’s offense. His 1,158 yards receiving and team-high 11 touchdown catches last season were just a preview of what’s to come for him in 2019. Many consider Lamb a top-three NFL prospect at the wide receiver position. CeeDee has had the pleasure of having two Heisman Trophy winners throwing him the ball in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. He’ll be Jalen Hurts’ security blanket this season.
Kennedy Brooks #26, RB Oklahoma 2020
Grant Calcaterra #80, TE Oklahoma 2020
Trey Sermon #4, RB Oklahoma 2020
T.J. Pledger #22, RB Oklahoma 2021
Theo Wease #10, WR Oklahoma 2022
Jadon Haselwood #11, WR Oklahoma 2022
Notre Dame @ Louisville
Monday, 9/2 | 8:00 PM EST
Chase Claypool #83, WR 2020
Claypool is coming off ankle surgery as he enters his final year with the Irish. With Miles Boykin leaving to the NFL, there’s little that stands in the way of Claypool taking over as the go-to guy in Notre Dame’s offense. The lanky 6-foot-4 receiver has always been a possession type receiver and a solid red-zone threat. Last season, Claypool pulled in 50 receptions for 639 yards and four scores. Chase hopes to get into that 65-70 catch territory this season. He should be utilized quite a bit in this matchup.
Dez Fitzpatrick #7, WR Louisville 2020
Seth Dawkins #5, WR Louisville 2020
Jafar Armstrong #8, RB Notre Dame 2020
Kevin Austin #4, WR Notre Dame 2021
Whew! That wraps up the official opening weekend preview. Enjoy the games this weekend! If you aren’t already, check me out on Twitter: @JaredWackerlyFF. I’m always happy to discuss prospects with you. See you next week!
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