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NFL Draft Prospect of the Week: Dante Pettis

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, John Ross was the premier name for the Washington Huskies offense and rightfully so. The speedy receiver caught passes for over 1100 yards and 17 touchdowns and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. After a strong season and breaking the 40 yard dash record at the NFL combine, it was hard for anyone else on that Washington offense to get any spotlight. Now, with Ross in the NFL, Washington receiver Dante Pettis is taking advantage of his new limelight by showing out in a big way.

While Ross was a huge playmaker for the Huskies last year, it was actually Pettis who was the more efficient player with the ball. Ross averaged 14.2 yards per catch on 81 receptions while scoring a touchdown on about 21% of his touches, a very impressive figure. However, in 2016, Pettis averaged 15.5 yards per catch on his 53 catches and scored a touchdown on over 28% of his receptions. While it came in a smaller sample size, Pettis' incredible playmaking efficiency warranted some attention. Now he is about to get all of the attention he deserves.

This past week, Dante Pettis did something remarkable. Against Fresno State he had five catches for 92 yards and three touchdowns, but that wasn't even the most impressive thing. He added a fourth touchdown as a punt returner and became the first player in NCAA history to have three straight games with a punt return touchdown.

The senior receiver is now up to eight career punt return touchdowns and it's not surprising given his open field moves and seemingly effortless speed at 6'1" and 200 pounds.

This was a massive breakout game for Dante Pettis considering he had been relatively quiet in the previous weeks, but  there is no doubt Washington is going to try to get him the ball more over the course of the season. He will be a player to keep an eye on from week to week this year because, as last weekend showed, he can score a touchdown at any moment.

Other Performances of Note:

  • Malik Jefferson, Linebacker, Texas: While Texas may have lost their exciting game with USC, Malik Jefferson had the best game of his career. The athletic linebacker flew all over the place and played  a fundamental role in limiting USC's electric running backs and he looked comfortable in coverage. Before this season, Jefferson was just a raw player with lots of potential but his USC performance suggests he is putting it all together this season.
  • Mike McGlinchey, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame: Mike McGlinchey had a tough task on Saturday, dealing with Boston College's impressive duo of defenders in Zach Allen and Harold Landry. McGlinchey answered the call and absolutely mauled both in the passing game and running game. Notre Dame ran for over 500 yards against Boston College and McGlinchey's performances played a huge part in that. Going forward, McGlinchey should have a lead in the conversation for the best tackle in this draft class.
  • Christian Wilkins, Defensive Lineman, Clemson: In what was one of the most hyped match ups of the last week, Clemson's defensive line came to play against Louisville. Christian Wilkins led an incredible effort by the Tigers to absolutely manhandle the Cardinals in the trenches. Christian Wilkins was a bull in a china shop, blowing up blocks and ruining the running game and put pressure on Lamar Jackson all night. Wilkins is a pretty complete prospect and more performances like this for the junior could mean a high draft selection in spring.
  • Rashaad Penny, Running Back, SDSU: One of my favorite smaller school prospects this year is going to be the guy who took over for Donnel Pumphrey at San Diego State. Rashaad Penny had 1000 yards last year as a back up and it looks like he is going to eclipse that pretty quickly this year considering he is up to 588 rushing yards through three games and is averaging 8.3 yards a carry. Against a tough Stanford defense, Penny led the Aztecs to a big upset when rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown. On 32 carries, Penny bullied the Stanford defense and kept them honest the whole night. He was consistent in picking up yardage and was unstoppable through four quarters. The 220 pound back has a lot more NFL potential than his predecessor, so it will be fun to watch him run rampant in that offense for the rest of the year.