School soccer Week 8: NFL scouts shall be watching these high matchups

Published:Mar 8, 202423:13
School soccer Week 8: NFL scouts shall be watching these high matchups

By Rob Rang
FOX Sports activities NFL Draft Analyst

After an interesting Week 7 of faculty soccer wherein there have been a number of showdowns of top-tier quarterbacks — like Tennessee’s Heisman hopeful Hendon Hooker vs. Alabama’s reigning award-winner Bryce Younger — Week 8’s high matchups are a bit extra diversified, with some high one-on-ones that includes gamers at less-glamorous positions. 

That isn’t to counsel that this week lacks firepower. The truth is, the argument might be made that each one 4 of the top-20 showdowns this Saturday boast the form of battles that make soccer the last word crew recreation, with showdowns alongside the road of scrimmage, barely past it and deep into the secondary. Apologies for the lame rhymes, but when Week 7 was QB Heaven, Week 8 can be nice — with its high matchups of future NFL starters unfold out throughout the sector. 

As such, some names listed under are usually not as recognizable as in earlier editions of this characteristic. With all due respect to these flashy quarterbacks, these are the showdowns professional scouts shall be watching — and that you have to be watching, too. 

Ohio State-Iowa preview

Ohio State-Iowa preview

RJ Younger and Geoff Schwartz break down the Week 8 matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Iowa at No. 2 Ohio State (midday ET; FOX and the FOX Sports activities app

On condition that the extremely ranked Buckeyes boast our consensus best choice for the Heisman Trophy at this level — quarterback C.J. Stroud — it appears virtually blasphemous to not checklist him because the participant(s) to look at on this key Massive Ten showdown. Scouts will look deeper than the obvious matchups, nevertheless, particularly with Stroud’s favourite goal — sophomore Marvin Harrison, Jr. — doubtless to attract Iowa’s dynamic younger defensive again Cooper DeJean a lot of this recreation.

Harrison is each bit as polished as one may count on from the son of an NFL Corridor of Famer, demonstrating not solely his father’s spectacular straight-line pace however superior route-running and ball-tracking expertise. Additional, the youthful Harrison is far larger than his father, who entered the NFL at a shade below 6-feet and simply 181 kilos. The truth is, it feels foolish to name his son "Junior," on condition that the present star receiver is listed at a strapping 6-foot-3, 205 kilos and routinely makes use of his well-built body and lengthy arms to box-out defenders, profitable with comeback routes and infrequently combating by way of arm tackles to generate yardage after the catch. The mixture of Stroud’s pinpoint accuracy and Harrison towering over school defensive backs has made the Buckeye duo arguably probably the most dominant QB-WR duo in school soccer this yr.

For pretty much as good as Harrison has been for the Buckeyes — and he presently leads the Massive Ten with 9 landing receptions in simply six video games — it was his teammate, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who entered the yr with all of the fanfare. Equally, senior cornerback Riley Moss was anticipated to be Iowa’s high cowl nook in 2022, however DeJean, a real sophomore like Harrison, has as an alternative stolen the highlight and, extra importantly, the soccer, main the Hawkeyes with three interceptions.

It isn’t simply the ball expertise which have Iowa followers so enthusiastic about DeJean. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder has lined up all around the secondary, exhibiting distinctive instincts for such a younger participant, in addition to grit and an correct strike zone as an open-field tackler. A fluid athlete with the stop-start skill and regular acceleration to shadow receivers downfield, DeJean can minimize the sector in half, serving to Iowa enable simply 9.8 factors per recreation to this point this season, third within the nation. 

Why Ohio State needs to be ranked No. 1

Why Ohio State should be ranked No. 1

Joel Klatt breaks down the Buckeyes, which he considers his high crew to this point within the season.

No. 14 Syracuse at No. 5 Clemson (Midday ET)

One may want the all-22 movie to really recognize each battle between Harrison, Jr. and DeJean within the aforementioned showdown, however these keen to take their eyes off the ball and give attention to the road of scrimmage on this recreation shall be handled to a full-feature struggle between Syracuse senior left deal with Matthew Bergeron and Clemson defensive finish Myles Murphy, a real junior already boasting a résumé that calls for scouts’ consideration. 

The story of the tape on this showdown proves that these two gamers couldn't be a lot completely different — a minimum of in the case of their backgrounds. Bergeron, a Canadian who grew up and performed his highschool ball in Victoriaville, Quebec, earned a scholarship supply to Syracuse solely after he and a few teammates went there throughout an offseason camp. Murphy, alternatively, was a five-star recruit out of the football-loving state of Georgia. He might have signed with nearly anybody — and has since confirmed why, accumulating 33.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks (in addition to six compelled fumbles) in simply 2.5 seasons for the Tigers.

Whereas Bergeron is likely to be perceived because the underdog on this matchup, he possesses a really perfect ability set for the NFL, boasting distinctive athleticism for a 6-foot-5, 322-pounder. Syracuse head coach Dino Babers has made Bergeron run along with his crew’s broad receivers throughout sprints as a result of he’s confirmed far too quick for different linemen, ruining the aggressive steadiness. Bergeron isn't just quick, he’s bodily and balanced, exhibiting excellent lateral agility to reflect rushers, and terrific quickness and agility in adjusting to downfield targets within the operating recreation.

Frankly, Bergeron goes to want it, as Murphy can be a future early NFL draft decide. Each, the truth is, could wind up listening to their names known as within the first spherical. At 6-foot-5, 275 kilos, Murphy possesses a prototypical body for defensive finish with good preliminary quickness, bend to wrap the nook and the leg drive to problem Bergeron as a bull rusher. For all of Bergeron’s expertise, he does tend to play excessive, which ought to make the punch and counterpunches from these two fairly the heavyweight bout.

No. 9 UCLA at No. 10 Oregon (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports activities app)

With all due respect to the matchups above, the traditionalist in me nonetheless enjoys contests between dynamic operating backs and glass-eating center linebackers probably the most. These showdowns within the gap stay the very essence of soccer, in my thoughts.

It isn’t usually that probably the most bodily matchup between a again and a ‘backer come from the Pac-12, however then once more, that is removed from a traditional season out West, with few anticipating that two groups from the convention could be ranked within the high 10 at this level — and that neither could be USC. 

My FOX colleagues and I agreed that few groups have stunned us greater than the Bruins, although regular senior operating again Zach Charbonnet actually confirmed a yr in the past that Chip Kelly’s squad was on the verge of one thing particular. Initially a extremely regarded recruit (and really productive participant) at Michigan, Charbonnet’s recreation vaulted to a brand new stage for the Bruins in 2021, because the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder galloped for 1,334 mixed speeding and receiving yards with 13 scores in simply 12 video games. To this point this season, he’s been even higher, averaging a career-high 7.1 yards per carry. Charbonnet affords an intoxicating mixture of bodily traits — dimension, energy and immediate acceleration — with high quality instincts for the place, together with the imaginative and prescient to find cutback lanes and spectacular spatial consciousness of defenders round him. A real do-it-all again, he's equally comfy lining up behind a fullback and operating downhill proper up the intestine or dashing to the surface on a toss. He assaults would-be tacklers along with his knees bent and shoulders main the cost, delivering large hits and holding his legs driving by way of contact — usually requiring a number of defenders to take him down — and ending his runs with authority.

UCLA's Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet

UCLA's Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet

Stars Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet be part of Reggie Bush to speak about their friendship and the crew's success.

If Oregon is to efficiently defend Autzen Stadium towards their former head coach Kelly and the visiting, undefeated Bruins, Noah Sewell will should be simply as spectacular on protection.

Like Charbonnet, Sewell has demonstrated next-level expertise from the get-go, incomes this writeup again in Week 3. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder seems like he's straight out of Central Casting as an inside linebacker, providing not solely a really perfect body and stage of physicality for the place, however good instincts and loads of pace to satisfy backs on the edge. 

Frankly, this recreation options a number of intriguing one-on-one showdowns, with some most enthusiastic about UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson making an attempt passes towards Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez. The collisions (and races to the perimeter) between Charbonnet and Sewell are the type that requires an additional buckling of the chinstraps, nevertheless. With these kinds of matchups so uncommon within the all-too-often passive Pac-12, my eyes shall be specializing in the center. 

No. 20 Texas at No. 11 Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. ET)

Much more dynamic than Charbonnet, Texas operating again Bijan Robinson deserves high billing on this key Massive 12 battle, however frankly, that's at all times the case. For the NFL scouts watching this contest, a extra essential analysis is likely to be whether or not Texas can create operating lanes for his or her star behind veteran proper deal with Christian Jones, the elder statesman of a Longhorns offensive line tasked with slowing down Oklahoma State’s Tyler Lacy, nonetheless a perennially underrated defensive lineman regardless of his getting into this contest with 30 profession tackles for loss. 

Each actually and figuratively, the "greatest" motive Texas practically pulled off the surprising upset towards Alabama in Week 2 was the shockingly efficient play of a largely very younger offensive line. The Longhorns characteristic two sophomores and two freshmen up entrance, together with Jones, a 6-foot-5, 333-pound redshirt senior. This inexperience is one thing Oklahoma State is for certain to attempt to exploit, shifting Lacy round much more than regular. 

The Cowboys have shifted Lacy all through his profession as a result of he possesses an uncommon mix of preliminary quickness and adaptability to go together with grown-man power. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder is nicely on his option to obliterating his earlier career-highs in tackles (34), tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (4) this season with 23-8.5-three by way of the primary half of the season. He's not the second coming of Aaron Donald, needing to study to string collectively strikes and struggle by way of blocks to make performs on effort as a lot as elite athleticism. However he pairs his arms and toes collectively properly to win the technical battles and has the scale to play up and down the road of scrimmage. 

Oklahoma State could be sensible to maintain him inside largely towards Texas, nevertheless, as Jones is a traditional power-based proper deal with at his finest, producing motion on the level of assault. He's faster than he seems in cross safety, anchoring shortly and exhibiting an iron-clad grip to latch and management rushers. Whereas Texas is finest identified for barbeque, don’t inform that to Jones, as he serves up pancakes within the operating recreation with the perfect of them, and the Cowboys are surrendering practically 140 yards per recreation on the bottom.

Preview: Kansas State vs. TCU; Texas vs. Oklahoma State

Preview: Kansas State vs. TCU; Texas vs. Oklahoma State

Joel Klatt previews two enormous Massive 12 matchups — No. 17 Kansas State vs. No. 8 TCU and No. 20 Texas vs. No. 11 Oklahoma State.

No. 17 Kansas State at No. 8 TCU (8 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app)

There are all kinds of causes to remain up late to look at Kansas State at TCU, not the least of which is the resilience of their respective quarterbacks Adrian Martinez and Max Duggan, gamers who've endured greater than their share of challenges. In the meantime, pound for pound, Kansas State operating again Deuce Vaughn — all 5-foot-7, 172 kilos of him — is just the most effective gamers in school soccer. 

And whereas every possesses the uncooked expertise and want to generate curiosity from professional scouts, the flashier, extra prototypically-built expertise is on the surface. 

Again in Week 6, we highlighted TCU’s playmaking cover-corner Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, so let’s swap our consideration to one among Duggan’s finest weapons in 6-foot-4, 193-pound wideout Quentin Johnston, who leads TCU with 34 receptions (a career-high already) for 500 yards and two touchdowns.

Underneath former head coach Gary Patterson, a defensive guru, Johnston’s dimension, high-pointing skill and clean athleticism have been not often really maximized. That has not been the case this yr with Sonny Dykes, an offensive specialist who has led TCU to an unblemished 6-0 begin and present No. 8 general rating. 

Underneath Dykes, a number of TCU ability place gamers have emerged as legitimately draftable prospects. Johnston is probably the most intriguing of the bunch, partially as a result of he is likely one of the few large receivers who truly performs large, bullying opposing cornerbacks by persistently taking part in above the rim and demonstrating robust, dependable arms to grab and management the ball with defenders draped throughout him. 

What makes this recreation all of the extra attention-grabbing is that in 6-foot-3, 202-pound senior Julius Brents, Kansas State affords an enormous, sticky nook with the physicality to match up with Johnston. 

Brents initially performed at Iowa and earned Honorable Point out All-Massive 12 honors a yr in the past in his first season in Manhattan. He makes use of his lengthy arms to corral receivers and restrict their releases, instantly throwing off the timing with their quarterbacks. Brents additionally accelerates easily for an enormous nook, exhibiting good route recognition and physicality to slather receivers on the catch level. 

Brents entered the yr already on the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Bowl watch lists. He solely possesses one cross breakup and one interception to this point this season however ought to have loads of alternatives on this contest. 

Learn extra:

Rob Rang is an NFL Draft analyst for FOX Sports activities. He has been protecting the NFL Draft for greater than 20 years, with work at FOX, Sports activities Illustrated,, USA At this time, Yahoo, and, amongst others. He additionally works as a scout with the BC Lions of the Canadian Soccer League. Observe him on Twitter @RobRang.

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Publish date: 2022-10-20 22:14:08
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