College Football Kicks Off Thursday Night: NFL Draft Players to Watch

Oct 23, 2010; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores running back Warren Norman (5) breaks away from South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Devin Taylor (98) at Vanderbilt Stadium. Mandatory credit: Grant Halverson-US PRESSWIRE

College football officially kicks off on Thursday night, and while I already did a quick preview of the prime time game a couple of weeks ago, I think it’s important to re-visit some of the top prospects that will be in action.

South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt is obviously the big game on Thursday night, featuring several potential first round prospects–all of whom play for the Gamecocks. You can check out my full report on Gamecock players who are set to get picked in the next year or two here, including Heisman candidate running back Marcus Lattimore.

Lattimore missed the end of last season with a knee injury, which is unfortunate because he was having another solid campaign. My guess is, he will come back this Thursday bigger, better, and stronger than ever before. It’s unfortunate any time a player goes down with an injury, but a lot of time, it does them a lot of good to get focused off the field. Lattimore should be much stronger mentally and physically having had that much time off, having to work that much harder to get ready for the first game of the season.

Where you might see the best prospects in this game is when South Carolina’s defense takes the field. Defensive linemen Devin Taylor and Jadaveon Clowney provide the Gamecocks with one of the best pass rushing duos in the entire NCAA field. Taylor is a big, long, athletic end who can really do a lot of everything, and Clowney was a high school superstar who came in as a true freshman and showed he’s ready for the big time. Both guys are potential first round selections.

If you decide to stay up later Thursday night, you can not only watch the Broncos vs. Cardinals on the NFL Network in their final pre-season game, but you can watch Washington State and top receiver prospect Marquess Wilson. Wilson is a big receiver with big play ability. Here is my write-up on him from earlier this year.

Just watching a couple of Wilson’s 2011 games, one thing that really stands out to me is his second and third gear after the catch. When he gets a full head of steam, there won’t be any/many players in college or at the next level who can catch him. He is a bit lean in his frame, but man can this guy catch and run. He seems very long for his listed height and weight, sort of a lanky frame. Has the ability to make incredible catches look easy, but will occasionally still lose control when going across the middle and getting hit. Extremely productive in his first two years as a member of the Cougars, hauling in 137 passes for 2,394 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Pac-12 has three of the best NFL Draft prospects at the wide receiver position for the next couple of years, and because he plays at Washington State, Wilson is often counted out as a forgotten fourth, but he’s every bit as good as his peers at this point. With Mike Leach as his head coach, the offense should be very favorable to the pass, which is good news for Wilson if he can stay healthy. He has managed to be as productive as he has with pretty awful quarterback play overall. Wilson is a legitimate first or second round prospect who will only get better as his career progresses. He has some very interesting potential and I’m excited to see more of him. Does a great job of making guys miss in the open field, and runs the deep ball as well as anyone in college football that I’ve seen. Really able to work the double move and beats defenders with consistency. His length allows him to disengage from cornerbacks and he is able to also use that to win jump balls and go up high to make his catch radius nearly impossible to defend. Great quickness and agility with really advanced footwork for his age (gets in and out of breaks quickly).

The games kick off at 6 PM, so make sure you’re tuned in! Football season is officially here.

Topics: 2013 Nfl Draft, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores, Washington State

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