Analysis

On the Road Again: Scouting College Football Week 4

After an exciting Week 3, the Reese’s Senior Bowl scouting team will be on 11 college campuses around the country in Week 4. Here are Senior Bowl scouts’ thoughts on one prospect they’ll be looking at in each matchup (all times ET):

Saturday

Clemson at Wake Forest | Noon | ABC

Wake Forest WR A.T. Perry: This is shaping up to be a smaller (in stature) senior receiver group, so Perry sticks out size-wise at 6-foot-3½ and 205 pounds. The 2021 Biletnikoff Award Semifinalist, who set a school record with 15 touchdown receptions last season, was held to only 4 catches for 33 yards in last week’s one-point 37-36 win over Liberty. 

Perry has a threatening stride and better acceleration than most longer-bodied wideouts, so we expect Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman to take at least a couple of deep shots to him. Clemson’s secondary will be the most talented he faces all year, which means this is a game every NFL scout in the southeast will be watching. 

Lehigh at Princeton | 3 p.m. | ESPN+

Princeton WR Andrei Iosivas: We haven’t had a Princeton player in the Senior Bowl since DT Caraun Reid was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. That could change if Iosivas ends up having the season we think he could.  

From strictly a tools perspective, there won’t be many wideouts in this year’s draft with the size/speed combo of the first-team All-Ivy Leaguer. Iosivas is 6-foot-3, 200-plus pounds, and he ran the fastest-ever 60-meter dash for a heptathlete at the 2022 NCAA Indoor Championships last spring.  

One area where our staff thinks he needs to improve from junior tape is in his run-after-catch. There isn’t a team on Princeton’s schedule that can defend Iosivas vertically, and he should have plenty of explosive plays in the open field by the end of the season.

Minnesota at Michigan State | 3:30 p.m. | BTN

Minnesota OC John Michael Schmitz: Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim was our Senior Bowl Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 202 yards and three touchdowns. However, his offensive line, led by third-year starting center Schmitz, also deserves plenty of credit. 

Schmitz, who graded out well enough to get a Senior Bowl invite a year ago, has ideal size for the center position. His overall mobility, both at the second level and to the perimeter, keys Minnesota’s run-first offense. Schmitz’s former linemate, Daniel Faalele (Ravens), told us nothing but great things about him last year in Mobile, and he sounds like the type of high intangibles offensive lineman that will be ready to start as a rookie next year. NFL scouts will love his high school wrestling background.

 

Florida at Tennessee | 3:30 p.m. | CBS

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker: We saw Hooker play live for the first time last year in Tuscaloosa, and he impressed us with his poise in a hostile environment at Bryant-Denny Stadium. He’ll have the crowd on his side on Saturday afternoon when the Gators visit the Vols in a big SEC East matchup.  

Hooker has steadily improved during the past three years of tape study, particularly his downfield accuracy. The Vols’ game against Pittsburgh in Week 2 was a good illustration of that. Even though a couple of potential big plays were ruled incomplete, Hooker’s willingness to take vertical shots and, more importantly, his ball placement was better than a year ago.  

Hooker is squarely in the mix for one of six Senior Bowl QB roster spots, and Saturday will be an excellent opportunity for him to separate himself from others on our Watchlist. 

Oregon at Washington St. | 4 p.m. | FOX

Oregon QB Bo Nix: We’ve had tons of live exposures to Nix, dating all the way back to his first career start as a true freshman for Auburn when he took on Oregon’s Justin Herbert. It’s ironic that Nix is suiting up for the Ducks three years later in Herbert’s old No. 10 jersey. 

There’s a “Good Bo/Bad Bo” narrative out there that our staff doesn’t necessarily subscribe to. However, he does need to show NFL scouts more consistency. We were at the Week 1 blowout versus Georgia in Atlanta. That game was a challenging evaluation considering the amount of fast pressure he faced that day. While we like Nix’s athleticism and ability to make ad-lib plays, we’d like to see him show more command from the pocket on Saturday night in Pullman.

 

Eastern Kentucky at Austin Peay | 4 p.m. | ESPN3

EKU TE Dakota Allen: We ripped through Allen’s “all-targets” cutup, and there’s some good stuff in the passing game. Allen, who started for three years at QB for EKU before moving to TE last year, already has 20 catches for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns in three games this season, including 8 explosive plays (15+ yards).  

He weighed in at 228 pounds last spring for NFL scouts, and if the school’s website is accurate (listed at 249 pounds), then he added some much-needed bulk over the summer. He’s a fluid mover for a tight end, he can get down the seam, and he’s shown a good level of toughness catching the ball in traffic this year.  

Right now, he is too far behind to offer much as a blocker, but NFL teams will be excited about his developmental upside as a pass catcher.

Incarnate Word at SE Louisiana | 7 p.m.

Incarnate Word WR Taylor Grimes: Grimes is a player we showcased in one of our “Small-School Saturday” Twitter posts this summer, and we look forward to seeing him on Saturday night in Hammond, LA.  

The former Illinois State transfer won Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year last season after piling up crazy stats (87 receptions, 1,145 yards, 16 TDs). Those numbers are what initially landed Grimes on our radar, but his tape landed him on this year’s Senior Bowl Watchlist.  

Grimes, who projects as a slot at the next level, is quick off the line of scrimmage, quick at the top of routes, and does a nice job working the middle of the field. Incarnate Word actually has two wideouts we’ll be looking at, the other being the bigger 6-foot-2-inch Darrion Chaffin.

 

Marshall at Troy | 7 p.m. | NFLN

Marshall RB Khalan Laborn: We didn’t have any Marshall players on this year’s preseason watchlist, but a couple have gotten our attention these first three games, including Laborn.  

The former five-star recruit and Florida State transfer showed out on a national stage two weeks ago, rushing for 163 yards on 31 carries in the Herd’s upset win at Notre Dame. However, he lost two costly fumbles in a disappointing road loss at Bowling Green.  

We like Laborn’s open-field run skills, and he has real burst on tape. This week, his challenge will be finding holes against a Troy defense that features an ultra-instinctive tackling machine, Carlton Martial.

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas | 7 p.m.  | ESPN

Arkansas LB Bumper Pool: Aside from having one of the coolest names in college football, Pool is also one of the SEC’s most instinctive defensive players. Pool is coming off consecutive 100-tackle seasons and entered the year with the second-most tackles at the FBS level since 2019 (320). 

Obviously, he’s a guy that knows how to get to the football. We had a chance to meet Pool at SEC Media Days in July, and just based on that brief interaction, he’s going to crush NFL pre-draft interviews. Texas A&M has a couple of the most explosive skill players in the SEC (Ainias Smith and Devon Achane), so Pool can help himself in the eyes of NFL scouts by getting them on the ground in space when he gets the chance.

Boston College at FSU | 8 p.m. | ACCN

Florida State LB Tatum Bethune: There are a handful of transfers making big, immediate impacts around college football, and Bethune is one of them. The UCF transfer, who led the Knights in tackles and was named second-team All-AAC last year, jumped off the tape with his closing speed in Week 1 against FCS Duquesne.  

We saw him live in Week 2 against LSU, and he looked just as fast in person. From the minute we put on the Duquesne tape, it was apparent this Seminoles’ defense was going to play more urgent and aggressive than it has in recent years. Coaches credit Bethune for being a huge factor in that. During the past three weeks, Bethune has moved up our Senior Bowl board more than any linebacker in the nation.  

Thursday

 

Coastal Carolina 41, Georgia State 24

Coastal Carolina CB Lance Boykin: The former Old Dominion transfer, who already has 2 interceptions this season, is one of the tallest (and longest) cornerback prospects in this year’s draft. 

NFL scouts measured Boykin at a shade over 6-foot-2 last spring, and he has the wingspan of someone over 6-foot-8, making him hard to throw over down the field on vertical routes. The Chanticleers have had DL Tarron Jackson (Eagles), and TE Isaiah Likely (Ravens) drafted out of the Senior Bowl the past two years, and Boykin has the best chance of CCU having a player in Mobile this year.

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