NCF Nation: Charles Clay
One of the newest additions to the list: Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kiper now has him as the No. 5 quarterback available in the draft, following a good showing at the Senior Bowl last week. It is his first appearance in the top 5. Now, having said that, Kiper also throws in a caveat: "It's worth noting that Kaepernick is a tier below the top four. He's still very much a project at this point."
So who could be the top non-AQ player off the board? Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, listed as the No. 23 tackle available, is No. 23 on the Big Board. Kiper writes that Wilkerson is "scheme-flexible, disruptive, strong penetrator, could work in 3-4 or 4-3." He also rates as a first-round prospect in the breakdown of players in the ESPN NFL Player draft rankings, coming in at No. 15.
Nevada outside linebacker Dontay Moch rates as the No. 4 player available at his position, while Charles Clay of Tulsa is listed as the No. 2 fullback and Kevin Kowalski of Toledo is rated the No. 4 center.
All these non-AQ players, except for Kowalski, have been invited to attend the NFL combine later this month. Here are the other non-AQ players invited to the combine:
Matt Asiata, RB, Utah
Nick Bellore, LB, Central Michigan
DeAndre Brown, WR, Southern Miss
Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State
Brandon Burton, CB, Utah
Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU
Chris Carter, DE, Fresno State
Ryan Colburn, QB, Fresno State
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
Wayne Daniels, DE, TCU
Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho
Alex Green, RB, Hawaii
Virgil Green, TE, Nevada
Jamel Hamler, WR, Fresno State
Daniel Hardy, TE, Idaho
Dwayne Harris, WR, East Carolina
Davon House, DB, New Mexico State
Rob Housler, TE, FAU
Andrew Jackson, OL, Fresno State
Jaiquawn Jarrett, DB, Temple
Lestar Jean, WR, FAU
Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
Jeron Johnson, DB, Boise State
Elijah "Peanut" Joseph, LB, Temple
Shiloh Keo, DB, Idaho
Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU
Curtis Marsh, DB, Utah State
Bruce Miller, DE, UCF
Jamar Newsome, WR, UCF
Derek Newton, OL, Arkansas State
Cheta Ozougwu, DL, Rice
Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
Kealoha Pilares, WR, Hawaii
Jah Reid, OL, UCF
Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU
Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii
DeMarco Sampson, WR, San Diego State
Caleb Schlauderaff, OL, Utah
Sealver Siliga, DT, Utah
Lee Smith, TE, Marshall
Willie Smith, OL, East Carolina
Vai Taua, RB, Nevada
Zane Taylor, C, Utah
Josh Thomas, DB, Buffalo
Brandyn Thompson, CB, Boise State
Isaiah Thompson, OL, Houston
Jeff Van Camp, QB, FAU
Ryan Winterswyk, DE, Boise State
Jimmy Young, WR, TCU
Titus Young, WR, Boise State
Here are a few of the non-AQ storylines I am going to be following:
1. Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick. Two of the most underrated quarterbacks in college football get a chance to prove themselves in the senior showcase event. McShay says this of Dalton: "Dalton is one of the more underrated quarterback prospects in the class and this is a good opportunity to show NFL teams that he is capable of scanning the field and making all the necessary throws from within the pocket." And of Kaepernick: "Like Dalton, needs to look fluid dropping from under center and needs to make sound decisions."
Both quarterbacks were the unquestioned leaders of their teams and have the intangibles necessary to play quarterback. Dalton won 44 career games -- and went 25-1 over his last two seasons. Kaepernick guided Nevada to its best season this past year at 12-1 and became a master of the Pistol. Dalton would appear to be the most "NFL ready" of the two. The bigger questions surround Kaepernick, simply because he ran an offense that is completely different than what he will be asked to do in the NFL. McShay is right in that he is going to have to start taking snaps from under center -- remember that was a big question that hounded Tim Tebow at this time last season. But his athleticism, and improved passing, should make him somebody worth looking at on the next level.
2. Receiver competition. Plenty of big-time non-AQ players at receiver in this game. You have Austin Pettis and Titus Young from Boise State, Greg Salas from Hawaii, Vincent Brown from San Diego State and Dwayne Harris from East Carolina. Of that group, Pettis and Young are the most well known nationally. Young has incredible speed but is slightly undersized at 5-11. Harris has tremendous versatility. Pettis is as sure handed a receiver as you will find, though his speed may be called into question. Salas racked up the stats in the pass-happy Hawaii offense but could be labeled a "system guy." I am looking forward to seeing how they all do.
3. All-purpose players. Jeremy Kerley has had a tremendous career at TCU as one of the top all-purpose players in the country. So has Harris. It will be interesting to see how their skills translate into the next level. Kerley is small, at 5-foot-10, but he could make an immediate impact on special teams returning kicks. One player missing from this group who was scheduled to play in the game -- Troy's Jerrel Jernigan, who is out with a high ankle sprain. He hopes to be healthy for the NFL combine next month.
Here are other non-AQ players in the game:
Tulsa RB Charles Clay
TCU C Jake Kirkpatrick
Temple DB Jaiquawn Jarrett
Toledo OL Kevin Kowalski
Marshall TE Lee Smith
WHO TO WATCH: With so many good players in this game, it is hard to pick just one. But I am going to go with somebody off the radar, a player you will hear more about in my preview video. That is Tulsa all-purpose player Damaris Johnson. He led the nation in all-purpose yards for a second straight year and is set to become the NCAA career leader in all-purpose yards. He is small at 5-foot-8, but he is used in many difference places on the field, so watch for him.
WHAT TO WATCH: Offense, silly! Moniz and Kinne are getting the attention, but some of the more intriguing battles in this game are going to come between the receivers and cornerbacks. Hawaii receivers Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares present matchup problems for a Tulsa secondary that ranks second-to-last in passing defense. Nelson is a true freshman, but he is capable of making huge plays. For Tulsa, Johnson and H-back Charles Clay could have a tough time against a Hawaii secondary that has 23 interceptions this season. Silva is tied for the nation lead with eight. Paredes also plays the pass well, so the Golden Hurricane are going to have their hands full.
WHY TO WATCH: Face it, you are probably going to still be wrapping presents on Friday night, and watching an entertaining game will certainly help pass the tedium of cutting and taping. It’s not often that Hawaii is showcased during prime-time, because most of its games start when most of the East Coast has gone to sleep. But the Warriors play an exciting brand of offensive football with a version of the Run N Shoot. Plus, Moniz will be back for his senior season and should be a 2011 preseason player to watch. Kinne also returns for his senior season along with 16 starters, and that could make the Golden Hurricane a preseason favorite to win Conference USA.
PREDICTION: I have agonized long over this one, because I think both teams can win. Ultimately, I am going with Hawaii 44, Tulsa 38 because the Warriors will be able to take advantage of a weaker Tulsa defense.
Now on to some links:
Titus Young has grown wiser after a rocky start to his Boise State career.
Tim Green and Deddrick Jones, two Southern Miss players shot after a bar fight spilled into the parking lot, are grateful to be alive.
How much has this season taken out of Boise State?
Utah has bite as an underdog.
Lots of similarities between Utah and Boise State.
How Utah and Boise State have keyed their success.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall needs to make a decision on his offensive staff, writes Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Rain in San Diego has wreaked havoc on bowl preparations for San Diego State and Navy.
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Charley Molnar and two Penn State assistants are in the mix for the Temple job.
The Mountain West and Conference USA discuss the possibilities of alliances beyond bowl games.
Tulsa teammates Charles Clay and Genesis Cole are forever friends.
T.Y. Hilton's leadership inspired FIU.
At quarterback, TCU's Andy Dalton moves into the No. 4 position thanks to his strong start to the season. He is completing 75 percent of his passes, with four touchdowns and two interceptions, and also has 113 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground. Nathan Enderle of Idaho is off the list, thanks in part to his five interception performance against Nebraska a few weeks ago.
Others to watch:
No. 3 FB Charles Clay, Tulsa.
No. 5 WR Jerrel Jernigan, Troy.
No. 4 OG Andrew Jackson, Fresno State.
No. 5 OG Marcus Cannon, TCU.
No. 5 C Kevin Kowalski, Toledo.
No. 3 OLB Dontay Moch, Nevada.
No. 5 S Shiloh Keo, Idaho.
No. 4 K Matt Szymanski, SMU.
There aren't as many non-AQ players on the non-seniors list. You'll have to check that one out for yourselves.
Several non-AQ players are featured.
- Idaho QB Nathan Enderle is listed at No. 3 behind Jake Locker at Washington and Christian Ponder at FSU.
- Tulsa FB Charles Clay is ranked No. 3 at his position and Troy WR Greg Little ranked No. 4 among receivers.
- Nevada OLB Dontay Moch is ranked No. 3 at his position and is one of several defensive players featured.
Check out the entire list here.
But the 2009 Tulsa squad was a young team that showed promise and should be better this spring, especially with some new coaches to help on both sides of the ball.
Here’s a look at the strongest and weakest positions for Tulsa heading into spring football:
Strongest position: Wide receiver
Key returners: Senior Trae Johnson (22 catches, 311 yards, eight touchdowns), junior Damaris Johnson (78 catches, 1,131 yards, three touchdowns), senior A.J. Whitmore (26 catches, 238 yards, one touchdown), sophomore Ricky Johnson (eight catches, 111 yards, two touchdowns), sophomore Justin Skillens (three catches, 41 yards)
Key departures: Slick Shelley (29 catches, 511 yards, four touchdowns)
The skinny: Although Tulsa didn’t have one of the nation’s top offenses like it has in the past, the receiving corps was still productive and could be even better with quarterback G.J. Kinne in his second season as starter and a more seasoned offensive line. Damaris Johnson will once again be the focal point of the offense, but look for some of the younger players to start making their mark. Tulsa also had a lot of success using H-back Charles Clay out of the backfield.
Weakest position: Offensive line
Key returners: Junior left tackle Tyler Holmes, junior left guard Clint Anderson, sophomore center Trent Dupy, junior right tackle Brandon Thomas, senior right tackle David Lazenby
Key departures: Right guard Curt Puckett
The skinny: Graham said the one place his team couldn’t afford to suffer any losses last season was on the offensive line, and through the better part of the season starters were coming up lame, forcing younger, inexperienced players into action. The result was Kinne running for his life most of the time as the Golden Hurricane allowed 46 sacks, which amounted to one of the worst sacks per game averages in the country. The good thing about last season is that the line got much-needed experience and should be a lot stronger this year, especially since coach Herb Hand can turn his focus back to them instead of spreading his attention to all of the offense.
• H-back Charles Clay is ready to become the feature back in the Tulsa offense.
• Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, is still threatening to bring Congress into college football if a playoff doesn't come soon.
• UNLV's camp isolates the team from everything but football.
• BYU's linebacking crew is deep and experienced.
• Air Force cornerback Reggie Rembert is still serving a suspension, but he's able to practice while he does it.
• Brian Anderson has solidified the No. 1 quarterback job for Marshall and Press Taylor leads for No. 2.