Week Five of the 2017 college football season is here! Today features a good slate of games and always with good games comes great opportunities for NFL Draft prospects to boost their profile. Who should Eagles fans keep an eye on today?
- Steven Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Minnesota: Minnesota's defense is led by their disruptive defensive tackle, Steven Richardson. A bit undersized at 6'0" and 300 pounds, the senior defender had seven sacks and 11 tackles for a loss last season but has yet to impact the stat sheet this year. Richardson is explosive off the line and his build gives him an every down advantage in the leverage battle. Facing Maryland (12 PM ET on FS1), Richardson will need to show out against one of the more explosive running games in the country. Richardson has yet to put up flashy numbers this season and this would be a great game to start making those plays in the run and passing game.
- Colton Jumper, Linebacker, Tennessee: The Volunteers lost a lot of talent in the draft last year on both sides of the ball but one of their returning players has emerged as a leader on their defense. Senior linebacker, Colton Jumper, has made an impact for the Vols this year, especially as a run defender and blitzer. The 6'2", 230 pound backer plays fast and smart and does not mind getting physical at the line of scrimmage. Tennessee will need him to stay on his game today against Georgia (3:30 PM ET on CBS) given that the Bulldogs will be handing the ball off a lot to their stable of running backs. While Georgia is massively favored going into this game, a strong game from Colton Jumper could stifle Georgia's offense enough to keep it close.
- Akrum Wadley, Running Back, Iowa: One of the country's most unsung heroes at running back, Akrum Wadley leads Iowa in running and receiving at this point this season. The 5'11", 195 pound senior running back from Newark is rushing only a bit over four yards per carry, below average for the college level, but he is going for an incredibly impressive 22.7 yards on every catch. Wadley is Iowa's only threat on offense so it would make sense that offenses are keying on him. He is not the most athletic back, nor the biggest, but he is a very savvy player with great vision, quickness and a tough running style. Iowa faces a tough opponent with Michigan State (4 PM ET on Fox). The Spartans are usually physical on defense and never an easy team to play, so a win for Iowa will require a big game for Wadley. In a college football landscape loaded with running backs, today could be a nice statement game for the senior running back.
- Adonis Alexander, Cornerback, Virginia Tech: Every year it feels like Virginia Tech has a few defensive backs that warrant attention and surprisingly that is the case this year. Adonis Alexander is eye catching before he even steps on the field, towering over other defenders and offensive players at 6'3" and 200 pounds. His size and arm length makes him a pain in the ass to deal with at the line of scrimmage for wide receivers and it allows him to outmuscle receivers at the catch point on a regular basis. Alexander and Virginia Tech have a season defining match up against Clemson tonight (8 PM ET on ABC). The Tigers will field an explosive offense full of weapons and Alexander will be tasked with limiting one of them on every play. Be it Deon Cain, Hunter Renfrow, Ray Ray McLoud or even Travis Etienne; Alexander will need to be on his game all night. The junior cornerback has incredible potential for the NFL and tonight is a good chance to show every what that looks like.
- Shaun Dion Hamilton, Linebacker, Alabama: Unsurprisingly, despite losing over half of the defensive starters to the draft last spring, Alabama's defense is still a buzz saw. While they do not have the same level of pass rush, the coverage and run defending ability of the unit is off the charts. A big reason why the Crimson Tide remains so strong, especially up front, is Shaun Dion Hamilton. Much like Reuben Foster was the leader of the unit last year and flew around the field making offensive players pay for even being in his vicinity, Dion Hamilton brings a similar violence to the field. While he is smaller than the average NFL linebacker at 6'0" and 235 pounds, he is an athletic missile who brings the hit against the run, has the speed to run in coverage and even can impact as a blitzer. Alabama's match up with Ole Miss tonight (9 PM ET on ESPN) could prove to be a bigger challenge than the rankings suggest. Ole Miss has a dynamic offense with an electric mobile quarterback, which seems to always trouble Alabama's defense. Dion Hamilton will likely be tasked with spying the dual threat, Shea Patterson, and his ability to contain the quarterback's running will be massive in making sure Alabama continues its reign of terror.