Week five of the 2019 college football season is upon us! This weekend, tons of defensive prospects take the field in games that should test them. Will it be a showcase for their talents or a magnifying glass for their weaknesses? Here are the players I’m watching.
Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern v. Wisconsin (12 PM on ABC): Wisconsin has been on a roll, mostly due to their steamrolling running game. Paddy Fisher is the leader of the Northwestern defense and will need to play sound football and make impact plays to limit the Badgers offense. It’s the only way to keep Northwestern in the game.
Bryce Hall, CB, UVA v. Notre Dame (3:30 PM on NBC): Bryce Hall is playing excellent football this year. The physical cornerback is a big part of Virginia’s strong start to the season. The Cavaliers have a shot to beat a tough Notre Dame team, but Hall will need to bring his A-Game on Saturday to slow down a potent passing game.
Elijah Molden, CB, Washington v. USC (3:30 PM on Fox): USC has an explosive group of receivers who will need to be played toughly against. Elijah Molden has been excellent for Washington and will likely be depended on to help keep the Trojans at bay. As Molden starts to gain some traction as a top cornerback prospect, he will face his biggest test this Saturday.
Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest v. Boston College (3:30 PM on ACCN): Wake Forest is another surprise this year. The Demon Deacons are out to a hot start and have played good defensive football each week to keep themselves in games. Carlos Basham Jr. has been excellent, leading the team in sacks this year. Basham’s game will be crucial against Boston College and their ground-and-pound offense. He will have opportunities plenty to show off his run defense.
Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota v. Purdue (3:30 PM on ESPN2): Antoine Winfield has been healthy for the first time in a long time and his play has been delightfully excellent. Purdue fields a playmaking passing game and Winfield Jr. will need a big game to keep the Boilermakers from passing all over the Gophers.
AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson v. UNC (3:30 PM on ABC): Clemson’s defense has sustained a high level of play despite losing several high profile players to the NFL last year. AJ Terrell has been an excellent cover corner who has consistently locked down opposing teams’ top receivers. Terrell will have his hands full with a UNC passing game that always has the long ball in its back pocket. Terrell curtailing the Tar Heels’ big play ability will help protect Clemson’s national title hopes.
AJ Parker, CB, Kansas State v. Oklahoma State (7 PM on ESPN+): Oklahoma State has one of the best receivers in the country in Tylan Wallace. The Cowboys will be throwing his way early and often against a stingy Kansas State team. AJ Parker is the Wildcats’ best hope of slowing down Wallace and the Cowboy passing game. This will be a huge test for a rising prospect.
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn v. Mississippi State (7 PM on ESPN): Derrick Brown has been excellent and among the many stars on the Auburn defensive front. His huge size and athleticism serves as a catalyst for the rest of the linemen to get favorable matchups and make big plays. Mississippi State has a dangerous offense, particularly on the ground. Derrick Brown will be depended on to stuff up the middle of the defense while also getting some push on passing downs.
Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State v. Nebraska (7:30 PM on ABC): Ohio State has rolled over all of its opponents this season, so it’s not a stretch to say Nebraska might be their top competition yet. The Cornhuskers are not without weapons on offense and could actually threaten to put up a fight against Ohio States’ loaded defense. Jeff Okudah will, again, be depended on to lock down the Nebraska passing game. The junior cornerback has been excellent thus far this season and a big game against Nebraska will help him and his team.
Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah v. WSU (10 PM on FS1): I don’t know if anybody stayed up late enough last week, but WSU put up 63 points in a. LOSS. The offense has firepower galore as to be expected with a Mike Leach team. They’ll face down a talented Utah defense that features one of the better pass rushers in the country. Bradlee Anae has been ferocious on passing downs this year and is a proven run defender. The Utes will need a huge game from him to give them a chance against the high flying Cougars.