On to Week 2 everyone! 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 ‘Who to Watch’ series before you head into the weekend. Use this article each week as a place to refer back to as you get ready 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, in my opinion, worth mentioning, their position, and the year they are eligible to enter the NFL Draft.
Wake Forest @ Rice
Friday, 9/6 | 8:00 PM EST
Sage Surratt #14, WR 2020
Surratt played a huge role in Wake Forest’s come from behind win over Utah St. last Friday after catching seven passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. Surratt is a very gifted athlete; he was named player of the year in the state of North Carolina in both basketball and football in high school. He owns the record for most receptions and receiving yards in a freshman’s first start for the Deacons with 11 catches for 150 yards vs. Tulane. Surratt is a big bodied receiver with great fluidity and athleticism for his size at 6-foot-3, 215 lbs. He has great ball skills; you can see how his basketball skills translate on the field.
Marshall @ Boise St.
Friday, 9/6 | 9:00 PM EST
John Hightower #16, WR 2020
Hightower is a speedy receiver with the ability to go up and win a jump ball. He had a slow start in Boise’s first bout against Florida St., only catching two passes for 25 yards, but he’ll look to get on track in this matchup with Marshall. Hightower led Boise in yards per catch last year with 16.3, and was second on the team in touchdowns with eight. He’s the senior leader in this deep group of wide receivers and is a big contributor on special teams too.
Octavius Evans #1, WR 2020
Evans was rated the 19th best wideout in the massive state of Texas coming out of high school in 2017. Evans battled injuries all last season and going into this year (a high ankle sprain last season and a foot fracture in the spring) — he’ll look to get on track and become one of the top wide receivers in the conference like he’s expected to be. He’s a great playmaker once the ball is in his hands.
Khalil Shakir #2, WR 2021
Shakir caught eight passes for 78 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 36-31 win over Florida State. He is cemented into a starting role with the Boise offense and is their “go-to guy” when their team needs a play. Shakir was ranked the 18th best athlete in the 2018 recruiting class and was a four-star prospect. He’s a dynamic player that is able to play wherever the team needs him. Look for him to line up in multiple spots in the Boise offense.
Cincinnati @ Ohio St.
Saturday, 9/7 | 12:00 PM EST
J.K. Dobbins #2, RB 2020
Dobbins is going to have a heavy workload this season. This past Saturday versus Florida Atlantic he played on 47 snaps of Ohio State’s 74 snaps. The most by any running back on the team by a wide margin. Of those 47 snaps, Dobbins touched the ball 22 times — 21 carries and one catch — for 105 total yards and a score. He played in all but one of the Buckeyes’ 15 series. He shouldn’t be happy with his first showing this season, but it wasn’t all on him. The offensive line only returned one starter and he’s playing next to a first-year starter at quarterback, Justin Fields. Look for Dobbins to try to get back on track against a tough run defense in Cincinnati.
Justin Fields #1, QB 2021
Fields had a very strong start to his Ohio State career — he completed 69% of his throws for 328 yards and four scores while adding another 61 yards on the ground with another score. Fields was the second overall ranked player in the 2018 recruiting class, one spot lower (barely) than Trevor Lawrence. He said he was clocked at a 4.39 forty-yard-dash during camp this year… his speed was on full display in the opening game. Fields will try to lead OSU to 2-0 in a big in-state rivalry with Cincinnati.
K.J. Hill #14, WR 2020
K.J. Hill is now just 45 receptions away from breaking David Boston’s career receptions record at Ohio State. He’s 6-foot flat and 195 pounds, and while he can certainly move, he’s much more “quick” than he is “fast.” He’s a very good route runner, with very good hands, and a very good brain for the position. He had a bit of a disappointing first game, but the offense for Ohio State as a whole didn’t look great after their 28-point first-quarter outburst. Hill will be the go-to guy when Fields needs a first down.
Desmond Ridder #9, QB 2020
Ridder completed 62.4 percent of his throws across 13 games in 2018, although he missed most of the Bearcats’ Military Bowl victory due to injury. He helped lead Cincinnati to a victory to start the season versus UCLA last week passing for 242 yards and two scores. Ridder took over last season as a redshirt freshman and didn’t disappoint, leading the Bearcats to 11 wins. He will face his hardest test yet this weekend versus the Buckeyes.
Michael Warren II #3, RB 2020
Warren, a junior, is a physical back — he carried 26 times for 92 yards and a score in the opener versus UCLA. Former Ohio’s Mr. Football will look to seek payback on the Buckeyes who didn’t give him a scholarship offer coming out of high school. Warren earned second-team All-AAC honors last season after he ran for 1,329 yards and a school-record 19 rushing touchdowns. He’ll look to lead his team to a major upset this weekend against the Buckeyes.
Army @ Michigan
Saturday, 9/7 | 12:00 PM EST
Tarik Black #7, WR 2020
Last season, a week before the season opener at Notre Dame, Tarik broke his foot and required surgery. Black only played a half of football last week (left due to dehydration), but his speed and athleticism were on full display during his four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown versus Middle Tennessee State last week. It’s good to see Tarik Black back and healthy after back-to-back season-ending injuries. He’s a very gifted athlete and definitely someone to track this season.
Donovan Peoples-Jones #9, WR 2020
Donovan Peoples-Jones was in a tracksuit with his right foot in a boot before the Wolverines’ opener against Middle Tennessee State. Peoples-Jones had a team-best 47 receptions last year for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. Harbaugh stated there was a chance that Donovan plays this week, but it’s doubtful given the opponent. When Peoples-Jones does see the field, you’ll definitely want to pay attention. He could rise to be a mid-second round 2020 pick in dynasty rookie drafts.
Zach Charbonnet #24, RB 2022
True freshman, Zach Charbonnet, did an excellent job in his first college action last week. According to Harbaugh, Charbonnet may have had the best performance in pass protection from a running back since Harbaugh arrived at U-M in 2015. Charbonnet also stood out in the run game, leading Michigan with eight carries for 90 yards. He broke a 41-yard gain in the third quarter, showing off his vision, cutting ability, and long speed.
Syracuse @ Maryland
Saturday, 9/7 | 12:00 PM EST
ESPN or ESPN2
Anthony McFarland #5, RB 2020
McFarland enters 2019 after putting up quite a performance last season. He finished with 1,034 yards on the ground and four touchdowns while averaging 7.9 yards per carry. McFarland is the heart and soul of the Maryland offense. It’ll be interesting to see how new Maryland head football coach, Mike Locksley, uses McFarland. He and new offensive coordinator, Scottie Montgomery, have both said they plan to feature McFarland more in the passing game by splitting him out in the slot and by running more routes from the backfield. I’d expect a big game from Anthony as he goes against a young linebacking core in Syracuse.
West Virginia @ Missouri
Saturday, 9/7 | 12:00 PM EST
ESPN or ESPN2
Albert Okwuegbunam #81, TE 2020
Okwuegbunam had a tough game last week as Missouri fell in an upset to Wyoming, 37-31. He committed a pass interference penalty that wiped a touchdown off the board and, in the second quarter, nearly fumbled, though the pass was ruled incomplete. Albert was limited in camp by a knee injury and missed most of the spring because of a shoulder injury. He battled back and was able to be on the field for 62 of the team’s 93 offensive snaps. He received a second-round grade by the College Advisory Committee last year after being a finalist for the 2018 Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. Okwuegbunam is a big target at 6-foot-5, 255-pounds. He blends speed with power and maybe the best tight end in this class.
Larry Rountree III #34, RB 2020
Rountree will look to bounceback after a disappointing first outing versus Wyoming last week. He fumbled the football late in the first half and only saw four offensive snaps for the rest of the game. Since Missouri was playing catch-up for most of the second half, Tyler Badie served as the better back in that situation. Rountree came into this season as the conference’s second-leading rusher from a year ago after a 1,216-yard sophomore season, trailing only Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 1,244 yards. Rountree is a bruising back that will get the dirty yards in between the tackles. Larry will need to avoid games like last week if he wants any shot at getting drafted.
Jalen Knox #9, WR 2021
Knox put together a solid freshman season last year catching 27 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns. He was forced to grow up last year when Emmanuel Hall and other Missouri receivers were out with injuries. He was the de facto number one wide receiver for a bit of last season. The 6-foot, 195-pound sophomore is Missouri’s best wide receiver this year. He’s a very dynamic athlete who’s able to stretch the field with his great speed, and he does a good job of creating separation with his overall quickness.
Texas A&M @ Clemson
Saturday, 9/7 | 3:30 PM EST
Trevor Lawrence #16, QB 2021
If you haven’t heard of Trevor Lawrence yet then you must be living under a rock. The Heisman Trophy favorite passed for 93 yards and a touchdown in limited snaps in Clemson’s 28-26 victory over TAMU last season. Since leading Clemson to a National Title victory the 6-foot-6 sophomore has added weight over the offseason and reportedly has become quicker with his feet. He should be able to run the ball better and develop his deep ball, even more, this season. Lawrence has plenty of weapons to dish the ball to, which makes this Clemson team even scarier. Lawrence is so good that he may eventually be considered as a top-three pick in one-QB dynasty leagues.
Travis Etienne #9, RB 2020
The reigning ACC Player of the Year and popular Heisman Trophy candidate, Travis Etienne is coming off a career-high 205 yards on 12 carries against Georgia Tech last week. Travis currently trails C.J. Spiller’s career touchdown record by nine, but will most likely be breaking that sometime this year. Etienne is in the top three of most running back draft boards. He’s an electric player with the ball in his hands and is said to run in the low four-threes in the forty-yard-dash. Look for him to touch the ball a lot more this week in a more competitive matchup.
Tee Higgins #5, WR 2020
Higgins had a great first outing in his junior season — catching four passes for 98 yards and a score. The 6-foot-4 lanky receiver displayed his tremendous hands-catching ability last week as he snatched the football away from the corner on a skinny post which led to a 62-yard score. As most of the preseason hype has centered around other Clemson receiver, Justyn Ross, Higgins showed why he shouldn’t be forgotten. Tee Higgins will most likely be a late first-round pick or early second-round pick in dynasty drafts next season.
Justyn Ross #8, WR 2021
As a true freshman, Justyn Ross was only on the field for one snap versus the Aggies last year. Since then, Ross went on to be Clemson’s leading receiver last season with 1,000 yards on 46 receptions, averaging a whopping 21.7 yards per catch. The 6-foot-4 receiver is one of the best prospects in the nation and will definitely be a first-round pick in 2021. Lawrence will be looking his way early and often in this one.
Lyn-J Dixon #23, RB 2021
Frank Ladson #2, WR 2022
Joe Ngata #10, WR 2022
Kellen Mond #11, QB 2020
In a down-to-the-wire game in College Station, Mond had a career day versus the Tigers last year with 430 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. This will be a true test for Kellen Mond and could propel him into the elite quarterback category in this 2020 class. If Mond repeats last year’s Clemson performance, he’ll absolutely get into the way-too-early Heisman conversation. It’ll also vault him into the category of elite college football signal-callers. Mond needs to improve on his accuracy, he only completed 60% of his passes last season, and it’s apparent when studying his tape. Mond is a dual-threat quarterback that does an excellent job in run-pass-option plays. Mond will look to repeat last year’s performance and upset Clemson on the road this weekend.
Kendrick Rogers#13, WR 2020
Rogers, a big-bodied 6-foot-4 wide receiver, is the top 2020 draft prospect on this Texas A&M team. Rogers missed quite a few games last year with an ankle injury and finished the year with only 27 catches and 336 yards with 5 scores. He needs to continue to develop his route running and availability if he wants to get drafted next year. He has the make-up to be a go-to guy, but his limited production so far in his career makes his odds low that he’ll amount to anything at the next level. He has a fantastic catch radius and good ball skills. He and Mond will need to put together a solid outing versus Clemson on the national stage to garner more attention.
Jashaun Corbin #7, RB 2021
Jalen Preston #5, WR 2021
Jhamon Ausbon #2, WR 2020
Nebraska @ Colorado
Saturday, 9/7 | 3:30 PM EST
J.D. Spielman #10, WR 2020
J.D. Spielman is the first player in Nebraska history to post multiple 200-yard receiving games. His 1,648 yards and 121 catches in two seasons place him within striking distance of the school’s career receiving records this year. With last year’s main target, Stanley Morgan, now in the NFL, Spielman is primed for a big season. Spielman spends most of his time in the slot and will most likely be drafted to play that role in the NFL. Look for him to have a big game receiving and returning the ball in this game.
Adrian Martinez #2, QB 2021
Martinez started the season with a subpar outing in which he completed 13 of 22 passes for 178 yards, no touchdowns and one interception versus South Alabama. Adrian Martinez thrived in the second half of last season as Nebraska won four of its final six games (and two narrow losses to Ohio State and Iowa). There was some Heisman hype for Martinez, and it was warranted. This week is a chance for some personal redemption for Martinez, who got hurt in the loss to Colorado last season. Martinez is a solid quarterback prospect in the 2021 class. He needs to continue to improve his footwork and accuracy if he wants to have a chance of getting drafted around guys like Trevor Lawrence.
Maurice Washington #28, RB 2021
Washington still faces pending felony charges in a child pornography case that stems from before arriving to play at Nebraska. He was sidelined for the first half against South Alabama as a punishment placed by head coach, Scott Frost. He appeared on the field in the second half, taking six carries for 39 yards and adding one catch for 13 yards. Washington is an extremely explosive back that will add some speed to the Cornhusker offense. Now that last year’s running back, Devine Ozigbo, is in the NFL, there is plenty of carries to go around. Washington will play a significant role in this matchup with Colorado.
Laviska Shenault #2, WR 2020
Laviska Shenault is a tank of a wide receiver and looks like a running back every time he catches the ball. When Pro Football Focus released its top 50 top college players for 2019, the 6-foot-2 Shenault checked in at No. 9. Many have Shenault at number two behind Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy. Shenault is clearly one of the best receivers in the country and your eyes should be locked in on him every time Colorado has the football.
BYU @ Tennessee
Saturday, 9/7 | 7:00 PM EST
Zach Wilson #1, QB 2021
Wilson was average, at best, in BYU’s season-opening loss to Utah. He threw two interceptions and no touchdowns. He was able to rush for 43 yards on eight carries, but otherwise, he wasn’t very effective. Wilson was a bit up-and-down in freshman season too. He’ll need to be on his ‘A’ game against a Tennessee team coming off an embarrassing loss to Georgia State.
Matt Bushman #89, TE 2020
Quarterback, Zach Wilson, spreads the ball around to a variety of targets, but Bushman is the biggest threat in the passing attack. The junior tight end led BYU with 29 receptions for 511 yards and two scores last season. He picked up where he left off, leading BYU with six receptions for 62 yards against Utah. Bushman could reveal to be a sneaky sleeper at tight end in dynasty drafts next year.
LSU @ Texas
Saturday, 9/7 | 7:30 PM EST
Clyde Edwards-Helaire #22, RB 2020
Edwards-Helaire rushed 146 times for 658 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018 while being the backup to Nick Brossette. The 5-foot-8 and 209-pound junior established himself as the starter during preseason practice. In LSU’s run-pass option offense this season, the running backs will be asked to catch more passes. The scheme has worked well for Edwards-Helaire, who sometimes lined up as a wide receiver in high school. Edwards-Helaire can run through tackles, but he’s more of a cut and dart running back, the kind of shifty athlete who’s always trying to make you look silly when trying to tackle him.
John Emery Jr. #4, RB 2022
True freshman, John Emery, a five-star recruit, was the highest-rated running back to sign with LSU since Leonard Fournette. Emery rushed six times for 20 yards and caught a pass for 17 yards in their opening game last week. Look for #4 and pay attention when he’s on the field. He could be 2022’s first overall pick when the time comes.
Tyrion Davis-Price #3, RB 2022
True freshman, Tyrion Davis was the 8th ranked running back in his class. His carries may be limited, but don’t be surprised if Davis-Price finds the end zone. LSU likes to use him in goal-line packages. Davis-Price carried five times for 11 yards and caught two passes for 24 yards last week. He’ll be used in a committee approach for LSU.
Justin Jefferson #2, WR 2020
Jefferson went from being a three-star recruit who wasn’t highly sought after, to being the Tigers’ leading receiver in 2018. He’s the third of three brothers to wear the purple and gold. Justin Jefferson led the Tigers with 54 catches for 875 yards and six touchdowns in 2018. This year he’s moved from the outside wide receiver to the inside slot receiver.
Jake Smith #16, WR 2022
True freshman, Jake Smith, is the reigning Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. Quarterback, Sam Ehlinger says, “He’s extremely fast, but he’s also extremely quick.” Smith was the 8th ranked receiver in his class according to 247Sports. Last week, Smith caught his first career pass and was one of the team’s leading receivers heading into the locker room at halftime. He finished the game with four catches for 31 yards.
Collin Johnson #9, WR 2020
The senior leader of the Texas wide receiving core, Collin Johnson is trying to bring Texas football back to what it once was. Johnson not only leaves his mark in the locker room but in the record books, as well. He already sits at No. 9 on the Longhorns’ all-time list for career receptions and receiving yards and needs just two touchdown receptions to crack the top 10 in that category, too. Johnson will most likely be a round-two rookie draft prospect during dynasty draft season next year.
Keaontay Ingram #26, RB 2021
Ingram ran for 78 yards on 11 attempts for one touchdown last week in the win versus Lousiana Tech. As the lone, healthy scholarship running back for the Longhorns heading into Saturday’s Top 10 showdown with LSU — the spotlight for Ingram is about to increase. Since five-star freshman running back, Jordan Whittington, went down with a six-week injury Ingram has been asked to pick up the load. The sophomore running back is on the preseason Doak Walker Award watch list and is a great 2021 running back prospect.
Stanford @ USC
Saturday, 9/7 | 10:30 PM EST
Colby Parkinson #84, TE 2020
In his 19 game career, the 6-foot-7 and 240-pound Parkinson has turned 11 of his 39 catches into touchdowns, racking up 582 yards. Last year he averaged 16.7 yards on 29 receptions. With J.J. Arcega-Whiteside leaving for the NFL, there is plenty of red-zone opportunities to go around. Parkinson figures to be the top target for Stanford this year. He’ll need to provide a safety blanket for quarterback Davis Mills with starting quarterback, K.J. Costello, out in this matchup.
Tyler Vaughns #21, WR 2020
The redshirt junior led USC in receiving yards in the team’s season opener last Saturday. Vaughns had a career-high 150 receiving yards and was just one shy of tying his personal best in catches with 11. Last year, Vaughn had 58 catches for 674 yards and six touchdowns. He was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing year for the Trojans’ offense. Now that they’re running the Air Raid system, look for the ball to be spread around to these talented receivers.
Amon-Ra St. Brown #8, WR 2021
His oldest brother, Equanimeous, is a receiver for the Green Bay Packers, and his middle brother, Osiris, is a senior wideout for Stanford. Amon-Ra, Osiris and Equanimeous are the sons of one of the most successful bodybuilders of the 1980s: three-time Mr. World and two-time Mr. Universe John Brown. St. Brown’s physical fitness has helped him become one of the Pac-12’s best receivers after just one year at the collegiate level. A five-star product out of Anaheim, St. Brown led the Trojans with 60 receptions in 2018, piling up 750 yards and three touchdowns on the season. St. Brown is one of the best receivers in the 2021 class.
Michael Pittman Jr. #6, WR 2020
Michael Pittman led the Trojans in receiving yards last season with 758 yards. He caught 41 passes and averaged 18.5 yards per reception to go along with six touchdowns. He is the most reliable deep threat the USC offense has, and he’s a big target at 6-foot-4. The entire receiving core will need to step up now that starting quarterback J.T. Daniels is out for the season with a knee injury.
Stephen Carr #7, RB 2020
Devon Williams #2, WR 2021
Markese Stepp #30, RB 2021
Cal @ Washington
Saturday, 9/7 | 10:30 PM EST
Chris Brown #34, RB 2021
In his first start, the sophomore 230-pound running back carried the ball 36 times for 197 yards and one touchdown in a win versus UC Davis. It was the most rushing attempts by a Cal running back since Shane Vereen had 42 in the 2009 win over Stanford. We’ll see what the big bruising back can do versus a better opponent this weekend in Washington.
Jacob Eason #10, QB 2020
Heralded 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason transferred back home to Washington from Georgia. After sitting out last season due to transfer rules, Eason lit it up in his first week back in action versus Eastern Washington. He threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns, completing 27 passes on 36 attempts. Eason has been under the radar, but he definitely could make a case to be the first quarterback selected in this year’s NFL Draft. We’ll see how he fares against some better competition this weekend.
Aaron Fuller #2, WR 2020
Fuller made two remarkable touchdown catches last Saturday. You probably saw his highlight one-handed grab on Sportscenter’s Top 10. Fuller will be Jacob Eason’s top target in this game. He’s a talented senior and the leader of their wide receiving room. The 5-foot-11, 188-pound receiver figures to be a fringe dynasty rookie next year, but things could change with Eason throwing him the football this season.
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!