The #7 USC Trojans travel to Salt Lake City this weekend to square off against the #20 Utah Utes. Jordan Addison, Clark Phillips, Mekhi Blackmon, and Cameron Rising are all NFL Draft prospects to watch Saturday.
USC WR Jordan Addison/Utah CB Clark Phillips Matchup
Perhaps the most exciting matchup from a stacked college football weekend comes when Jordan Addison squares off against Clark Phillips in a Pac-12 battle.
Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner, transferred to the Trojans this past offseason, following Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams to Southern Cal to form a fearsome offensive trio. The QB-WR tandem more than lived up to the hype in the first half of the 2022 season.
Addison recorded 32 receptions, 479 yards (15 yards per reception), and six touchdowns in his first six games with USC. He’s run consistently great routes all year and generates separation at a high level when working on routes downfield.
Addison is a threat to burn you deep or to slice you up if you sit down in a zone. His release package of the line is as good as any in the country, and Addison is surprisingly shifty with the ball in his hands. The Utah defense will have their hands full.
If I know anything about cornerback Clark Phillips, the kid will embrace the challenge with open arms. Phillips must keep Addison in check Saturday Night in Salt Lake City if his team wants a chance to win.
Phillips is not the tallest guy in the world, but he plays like a linebacker trapped in a cornerback’s body. Phillips is probably best served in the slot for NFL teams, but his time in college has shown his versatility.
Expect Phillips to go out of his way to stick with Addison this weekend. It will be interesting to see how Addison handles the aggressive nature of Phillips, specifically at the line of scrimmage. I have my popcorn ready for this one!
Cameron Rising Statement Game?
Cameron Rising is looking to become the first Utah quarterback taken in the draft since Alex Smith was selected at No. 1 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. As great as Kyle Whittingham has been with the Utes, elite quarterback play has never been a strong suit.
Rising has shown more good than bad in 2022. In four wins, Rising is completing 68.2% of his passes and averaging three touchdowns a game. He’s only thrown one interception.
In the team’s two losses, things changed. Rising is completing passes at a similar clip, but the Utes signal-caller threw only one touchdown while lobbing up two interceptions. Simply put, his ability to take care of the ball directly resulted in wins and losses.
Looking closer at Rising from an NFL perspective, he has traits that excite you. The Utah fireballer has a lively right arm, and the passion that Rising plays with is infectious to those around him. His jump in accuracy is the biggest selling point to NFL scouts.
Rising can get into a gunslinger tendency; that’s when his play is at its sloppiest. He is listed at 6-foot-2, but many wonder if Rising is actually that tall or not. We won’t know an answer there until the Combine.
The Utes likely are out of the playoff race with two losses, but they have the chance to play spoiler against the undefeated USC Trojans. If the trends from 2022 are any indication, Utah will have a great chance of pulling off the upset if Rising plays well.
Mekhi Blackmon is a Name to Watch for the 2023 NFL Draft
Mekhi Blackmon isn’t a name that most were familiar with coming into 2022 unless you are a Pac-12 or Colorado Buffalo fan. Blackmon spent one season at a Junior College before transferring to Colorado and starring in the secondary for four seasons.
Blackmon opted to stay in the conference by transferring to the USC Trojans. The talented defensive back went on a long journey to get to this point, but Blackmon is proving that he made a great decision.
Blackmon is the best player in the secondary for the Trojans. He has two interceptions in only six games, matching his career total with Colorado. Blackmon is fourth on the team in tackles with 26, showing his willingness as a tackler.
I can’t wait to see Mekhi Blackmon at the Senior Bowl. His ascent in the 2023 NFL Draft has already begun, but expect his stock to take off like a rocket when the pre-draft process plays out.
The Trojan cornerback is a lockdown defender on the outside and does not shy away from the toughest assignments. Even as an older prospect, Blackmon’s best is yet to come.