It's still early in the college football season and the evaluation part of the scouting season, but already some prospects are exceeding pre-season expectations and making a name for themselves this season.
These notes are a combination of Optimum Scouting's staff members and who's been impressive to them. Get to know Mike Gillislee, DeVonte Christopher, Jordan Matthews, Manase Foketi, and especially Kaleb Ramsey.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
Gillislee has been arguably the best running back in the SEC, moving from a senior with high expectations yet an injury prone history to above Dennis Johnson of Arkansas as a top 5 senior running back in the 2013 NFL Draft. If he continues to put the team on his back and continue to show that ability to be balanced through the hole and pick up meaningful chunks of yards, he’ll continue to be a mid-early round pick at running back.
Stefan Taylor, RB, StanfordAfter a consistently powerful running effort vs. USC, Taylor has begun to show his NFL talents as a running back as a prospect that can be a complete runner. Taylor may end up being among the top senior running backs by season’s end if he continues to play this week, and is currently a 3rd rounder.
DeVonte Christopher, WR, Utah
I’ve been impressed with Christopher since the pre-season, and after re-evaluating him, he’s has everything to like in a receiver. Crisp routes, body positioning in the redzone/first down situations, catches away from his body well, and has subtle separation ability. He’s a receiver prospect not to count out, and he may eventually be in the 2nd round area as a prospect.
Jordan Matthews, WR Vanderbilt
The 6’3 receiver stood out against South Carolina in week one, and followed that up with another impressive performance against Northwestern. Despite Vanderbilt having some question marks at quarterback, it seems Matthews will be a constant in this offense. As far as seniors go, he’ll be battling with Tavarres King, TJ Moe, Emory Blake, and Ryan Swope all year for the SEC’s best senior receiver.
Nicholas Edwards, WR, Eastern Washington
According to our scout Jimmy O’Brien, Edwards still lacks elite speed and has unpolished routes, but has an NFL ready body, physicality, and movement skills. His strength after the catch and his report with quarterback Kyle Padron has pushed him into the mid rounds as a receiver.
Manase Foketi, OT, West Texas A&M
A transfer from Kansas State who was rumored to be in the mix for the Supplemental draft, the 6’5, 320 left tackle prospect has gone from questionable prospect to maybe a mid-rounder at West Texas A&M. Our scout Alex Brown wrote about his work at the LSC Festival set of games saying he “recorded somewhere between 5 and 7 pancakes” in the team’s win over Texas A&M Kingsville and “lived up to the expectations of scouts in attendance.”
Kaleb Ramsey, DT, Boston College
After missing all of 2011 with an injury, Ramsey is coming back in full force. According to Jimmy O’Brien, he may be the most underrated defensive tackle in the nation. Demonstrating burst off the ball, agility, upper body strength, violent hands, and making the most of his frame, Ramsey may be among the Top 5 senior defensive tackles in the country. May be limited as a one gap only rusher, but can play a variety of spots on the line.
Brad Sorensen/Mike Glennon, QBs
Both quarterbacks (for Southern Utah and NC State, respectively) had high expectations coming into the season, but neither has been able to capture the mid-round expectations may had for them in the pre-season, including Optimum Scouting. While Sorensen’s draft stock depends on how he plays at the post-season All-Star games because of his natural talent, Glennon still has a chance to rebound as a prospect and show he can be a capable pocket passer at the next level.
Josh Jarboe, WR, Arkansas State
While he may improve as the Sun Belt season goes on, our scout Brandon Morgan hasn’t been impressed with Jarboe (or Ryan Aplin) so far this season. Jarboe has loads of talent and upside, but in a relatively solid receiver class, he may not be draft worthy as of now.
Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina
North Carolina moved to a 4-2-5 base set on defense, and Reddick has been asked to play more in space, according to Jimmy O’Brien. He’s showed average range/athleticism thus far, and is really struggling to shed blockers this year. He “looks a step slow” and is more of a “4th round prospect” based off of 2012 tape.