DT Smith, OC Estes get spotlight

Updated: September 30, 2009, 6:28 PM ET
By Steve Muench
The juggernauts of college football, the Oklahomas and Floridas, are never going to have to go out of their way to get nationally televised games. But midlevel programs need to have flexibility to get increased exposure. That is likely why Louisiana Tech and Hawaii agreed to play a nationally televised game on a Wednesday night.

Tonight's contest (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) will give both of these programs a chance to shine in the spotlight. Likewise, it gives kids on those teams the chance to impress NFL scouts. Two players worth keeping an eye on tonight are Louisiana Tech DT D'Anthony Smith and Hawaii OC John Estes. These guys are probably going to match up frequently in a battle of two players we project as third-round picks.

Estes is a technician who does a good job of getting into position, using a quick punch and sound footwork. One of the bigger knocks on this kid is that he doesn't have great leg drive, so once Estes is locked on he's not going to push guys off the ball.

That lack of strength after engagement could be a problem. While Smith is a one-gap interior lineman, he weighs 307 pounds and can hold his own in most one-on-one situations. I think Estes will get into sound initial position, but Smith has the upper-body strength, quickness and athletic ability to get off the block quickly. We'd like to see him do it consistently.

Another aspect of tonight's contest that piques our interest is how Smith handles double-teams. Hawaii could use LOG Ray Hisatake to double-team Smith, who lines up on the right side. Even with his natural leverage, we want to see Smith do a better job of anchoring in these situations. In fact, I don't think he is going to get a ton of one-on-one blocking schemes, so his effectiveness will be determined by how he handles double-teams.

For a look at an ACC DB who is impressing, a sleeper QB prospect, as well as notes from around the country, become an ESPN Insider. Insider