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On the Road Again: Scouting College Football Week 1

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton

For the second year, our Reese’s Senior Bowl scouting team will be on 10-plus college campuses around the country every week during the 2023 college football season. This year’s scouting team includes 10 former NFL scouts with more than 200 years of league experience. The Senior Bowl has had 100+ players drafted and has accounted for more than 40 percent of the past three NFL draft classes.

Follow @JimNagy_SB on Twitter on Saturday to see up-close, field-level videos on the following players:

Scouting College Football Week 1

Saturday's Games

Northern Illinois at Boston College — Noon ET, ACCN

Boston College OG Christian Mahogany — Mahogany popped on our radar two years ago when we scouted eventual Senior Bowler and Los Angeles Chargers first-round pick Zion Johnson. Mahogany is on the short list of potential Top 100 prospects coming off injury who NFL scouts are most excited to see this fall. The fifth-year senior, who started 22 games before missing all of last season because of an ACL injury, is a mauler-type with good size (6-foot-3, 331 pounds), length (33 5/8” arm, 81 3/4” wingspan) and hand strength. He was further along in the run game on 2021 tape, and we expect him to make a jump in pass protection this season with better patience and technique. Mahogany projects as a guard only and as a solid starter-level player at the next level based off his underclassman tape.

East Carolina at Michigan — Noon ET, Peacock

Michigan CB Mike Sainristril — The 2024 NFL Draft class is loaded with an unusually high number of draftable nickel corners, and Sainristril is one of our favorites. After spending his first three seasons in Ann Arbor at wide receiver, Sainristril moved to inside corner last fall and filled up the stat sheet (58 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, two sacks, one INT, seven PBUs). While he isn’t the biggest guy (NFL scouts had him at 5-foot-9, 183 pounds in spring), the sudden and feisty Sainristril packs a punch and consistently plays bigger than the measurables might suggest. Everyone on staff at Schembechler Hall regards the fifth-year senior captain as one of the highest-character players to come through the program during the Jim Harbaugh Era.

Virginia vs. Tennessee — Noon ET, ABC

Tennessee QB Joe Milton — There’s no denying Milton’s immense physical gifts or that he outplayed most NFL scouts’ expectations in a two-game audition late last season (30 of 49 for 398 yards, 4 TDs, no interceptions vs. Vanderbilt and Clemson). This is a huge prove-it year for Hendon Hooker’s successor. Milton and I talked at the Manning Camp in June about this being his team, not Hooker’s, and about the opportunity Milton has. Virginia’s defensive staff had the entire offseason to prepare a game plan to defend Milton’s rocket-launcher arm and unique size (6-foot-5, 236 pounds). But that still might not be enough time. The Vols’ sixth-year senior (Milton spent his first three years at Michigan) will be compared with Indianapolis Colts rookie starter Anthony Richardson when it comes to his talent and rawness. If you want to say you got on the Milton hype train early, we suggest you tune into this game.

Washington Edge Bralen Trice

Boise State at Washington — 3:30 pm ET, ABC

Washington EDGE Bralen Trice — Trice (6-3 3/8, 270 pounds) had a breakout season a year ago, going from two sacks as a sophomore to nine as a junior. That production resulted in him showing up in many first-round mock drafts over the summer. When we studied his junior tape, the two things that stood out most were his competitiveness and toughness. Trice is a violent and heavy-handed run-downs player whose rush game revolves around his relentless motor. NFL scouts have questions about how he’ll test next spring, so the combine might not be his thing, but make no mistake, Trice is a darn good football player. Huskies OLB Coach Ikaika Malloe said he thinks Trice will have a better final season than former Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, so Malloe agrees with us. We’ll take a good football player over a great tester any day. Boise State’s offensive line and running backs are going to have their hands full against Trice on Saturday.

South Carolina vs. North Carolina — 6:30 ET, ABC

South Carolina WR Antwane Wells Jr. — Gamecocks fans got some great news this week when coach Shane Beamer announced play making wideout Antwane Wells Jr., who had missed time with an injury during fall camp, would be ready to go Saturday night in Charlotte. Wells (6-foot-0 1/4, 210 pounds), who goes by “Juice,” made an immediate impact last season and was selected First-Team All-SEC by coaches after transferring from James Madison, where he was an FCS All-American. His 68 catches and 928 receiving yards a year ago were more than the next two South Carolina receivers combined. Wells is a tough and sure-handed target who’s not afraid to work in the middle of the field. He makes more happen after the catch than you think he will when you put on the tape. Wells enters this season as one of our highest-graded wide receivers, and we expect him to ascend with an improved version of Spencer Rattler getting him the ball.

Washington State at Colorado State — 7 pm ET, CBSSN

Washington State QB Cam Ward — One Pacific Northwest prospect who flew under way too many radars this summer is Cougars QB Cam Ward (6-foot-1 3/8, 216 pounds). Washington’s Michael Penix and Oregon’s Bo Nix deserve all of the national media attention they received, but the NFL scouting community is similarly intrigued by the former FCS transfer from Incarnate Word. Ward made a quick transition to the FBS level last season, completing 64.4 percent of his passes and accounting for 28 total touchdowns. The best thing about Ward is his Houdini-like ability to turn nothing into something. We spoke with Ward at the Manning Passing Camp this summer, and it only strengthened our belief that he has what it takes to play at the next level.

South Alabama at Tulane — 8 pm ET, ESPNU

Tulane QB Michael Pratt — This might be the best Group-5 game on the 2023 college football schedule. It pits two teams coming off double-digit win seasons that each possess potentially draftable quarterbacks. While South Alabama’s Carter Bradley needs to play his way into being a draft pick this fall, Pratt is already safely draftable for most NFL teams we spoke to this summer. Pratt (6-foot-2 1/2, 219 pounds) carried the Green Wave to a storybook 12-2 season a year ago, but now we’ll see if Pratt can do it without the benefit of handing off to Tennessee Titans third-rounder Tyjae Spears. You’re going to hear “moxie” thrown around a lot during the predraft process when it comes to Pratt, and it certainly applies to his instinctual game. Pratt battled through injuries much of last season, so he poses more of a run threat than he showed on his junior tape. Pratt starts the fall with an early Day 3 grade on our Senior Bowl board, but we have a feeling he will trend upward as the season progresses.

Sunday’s Game

LSU vs. Florida State — 7:30 pm ET, ABC

Florida State TE Jaheim Bell — Nobody did better work in the portal during the past eight months than Florida State. Bell, a former Swiss Army Knife play maker for South Carolina, was one of the Seminoles’ top gets this offseason. Because of his lack of ideal measurables for any particular position, Bell (6-foot-1 7/8, 229 pounds, 32 1/4 arm) rightfully will be labeled a “tweener” during the lead-up to April’s draft. Call him whatever you want, Bell is a potential mismatch in the passing game because he’s too athletic for linebackers and too strong for defensive backs to handle. Florida State coach Mike Norvell has experience using big, thick and talented players in the passing game so it will be interesting to see how he deploys Bell in Orlando. Current Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson was a 225-pound wide receiver for Norvell at Memphis before we moved him to running back at the 2020 Senior Bowl.

Before taking over as executive director of the Reese's Senior Bowl in 2018, Jim Nagy was an NFL scout for nearly two decades, having worked for five teams that won a combined four Super Bowls. Follow him on Twitter @JimNagy_SB.