This is a list of some of the guys around the country that I feel are some of the most interesting potentially great players because of their recruiting rankings, or their size, or some sort of outside factor.
1. Robert Nkemdiche- Ole Miss. DE (6-5, 295). Nkemdiche was the #1 recruit in his class of 2013 at DE. Nkemdiche is like Mario Edwards in that he has super excellent quickness and reportedly runs in that same 4.6 or lower range. Just a monster of a man and has yet to really come into his own. Ole Miss has moved him inside where he can use his enormous size to dominate the line of scrimmage.
Ole Miss is a team that is seemingly about to emerge as a huge threat to the powers that be in the SEC West and Nkemdiche is a huge part of that. Look for Nkemdiche to have a standout year and for Ole Miss to possibly surprise some of the top teams. Expect also for Nkemdiche to be on everyone’s All-American list and win some post season awards.
2. Mario Edwards -FSU DE (6-3, 280) While Edwards is intriguing, he is getting closer to living up to his almost unlimited potential and should be everybody’s All-American in 2014. Edwards was a key member of Florida State’s unbeaten championship team of 2013. He was a key member, but he was not the team’s best defensive linemen which was Timmy Jernigan. Jernigan has moved on to the NFL and it’s Mario Edward’s turn to step up and be the leader of the Seminole defensive line.
Reportedly, runs the 40 in the 4.6 range or lower. Phenomenal athlete and unlimited potential which is why he is high on my list of intriguing players.
3. Arik Armstead- Oregon. Armstead is an absolute giant of a man at 6-8, 280. He has been playing basketball for the Oregon Ducks but decided to give that up and concentrate on football. He only played a few minutes in basketball and it was limiting his potential in football and Armstead is all about potential. Many think that Armstead could be All-Pro as an Offensive Tackle. He is the
younger brother of Armand Armstead formerly of USC and a current Defensive End for the New England Patiots. Armand is ‘only’ 6-5, 305. Arik has the room to get much larger at 6-8. He has unlimited potential which makes for a very intriguing player. Personally, I would love to see Armstead as a 6-8, 330 Offensive Tackle some day, but I am pretty sure he would like to stay on defense.
4. Devin Funchess- Michigan. WR. Funchess, at 6-5, 235 was a Tight End last season until the emergence of Jake Butt for Michigan and they moved him out to Wide Receiver permanently. Funchess supposedly runs in the 4.4 range and has great hands bringing up the natural comparisons with the great Calvin Johnson. Like everyone else on this list, Funchess is just dripping with untapped potential. As a sophomore Tight End/Wide Receiver
Funchess hauled in 49 passes for 748 yards and 6 TDs. Michigan lost it’s other top receiver, Jeremy Gallon, so Funchess should be the top target this season for Devin Gardner. No doubt, Funchess will declare early for the NFL and be a top pick.
5. Dan Skipper- Arkansas OT. 6-10,305 Skipper stepped in as a true freshman in 2013 and started at Left Guard for the Razorbacks in the SEC West and he performed admirably. Teamed with other true freshman Denver Kirkland out of Miami to form one of the best young guard tandems in the
country. Skipper has moved to Left Tackle and looked really good there in the Spring for the Hogs. Has excellent feet for a tall man at 6-10. The thing with Skipper is, he has not even come close to reaching his full potential at 305 pounds. If Skipper can keep his athletic ability and quickness at a much heavier weight, he can dominate at the SEC level as well as in the NFL. He was a 3 star recruit out of Colorado showing again that recruiting rankings are great but some fall through the cracks.
6. Shawn Oakman- Baylor. Oakman was a transfer from Penn State after their fiasco up there. The man is huge at 6-9, 275 kind of like Ed Too Tall Jones of the Dallas Cowboys back in the day. Oakman is well named as he is tall and strong like an old Oak Tree. He had 33 tackles and 12.5 for losses last season and 2 sacks. Naturally, he also had a blocked kick. Oakman has 2 more full years to develop that enormous potential and become a top player and a possible high draft pick. Originally from Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.
Current Baylor coaching staff isn’t known for developing defensive players and it will be interesting to see what happens with the Oak Man.
7. Jalen Hurd- Tennessee. 6-3, 220 The Tennessee Volunteers have been almost completely devoid of talent of late. Head Coach Butch Jones is trying his best to bring that talent level back up to where it used to be a few years ago. The Vols have had almost no depth at about every position across the board and 2013 saw them with 5 starting seniors in the offensive line and losing every one of them obviously to eligibility. Jones and Tennessee had a really outstanding recruiting class in 2014 and Jalen Hurd is one of the top players in that class. Hurd played Running Back in high school and is projected at that position in college and the Vols don’t have that much there and it should be a good opportunity for Hurd. Running Back is one of the easier positions in football for a kid to come in out of high school and have a huge impact almost immediately which is why I have such high hopes for Leonard Fournette and LSU. Hurd should play early and often for the Vols and help them out
immediately. The intriguing thing about Hurd is his size which many say is actually bigger than what I have him listed at 6-3. Some claim he is 6-4 and that is really pushing it for a Running Back. Hurd could be an outstanding Running Back, but he has the size to convert to Tight End or Defensive End or Linebacker or several other positions. It will be exciting to keep an eye on Jalen Hurd and the Vols this season and I suppose the SEC crazed media won’t let us down with that.
8. Frank Iheanacho- Texas A&M. WR. Frank Iheanacho is 6-7, 220. That is an intriguing fact on it’s own. If SEC defenses could not stop Mike Evans at 6-5, they will not stop Iheanacho and his 6-7 frame with his athletic ability and very good hands. Everyone is expecting the Aggies to be down this season and they might be, but look for Iheanacho to surprise and make quite a few catches for them in 2014. Sumlin may not know much about defense and may never field a decent one as a head
coach, but he knows plenty about offense and will have another good offense in 2014.
A Wide Receiver that size is just an intriguing prospect.
9. Devon Allen – Oregon. 6-0, 190 Phoenix, Arizona Brophy Prep. Allen is a redshirt freshman for the Ducks and an outstanding hurdler for the Duck Track team. Probably the athletes that have the chance to do the best in football coming from other sports are Track and Field athletes or Basketball players. Allen had a huge Spring Game for Oregon and looked really good. Obviously, since he is a champion hurdler, he has outstanding speed but he apparently has shown good hands so far. Has yet to do anything in college football as of yet, but this kid is loaded with potential and with Johnathon Loyd should help the Ducks out from day one in 2014. Look for Allen to be a top target of Marcus Mariota. Not very highly rated coming out of Arizona in high school which is puzzling.
10. Jeremy Liggins- Ole Miss QB 6-3, 270. Liggins weight fluctuates between around 270 and 300. If he is serious about playing QB, he will need to keep his weight way down. He is a super intriguing prospect at QB and actually looked better than I expected in their Spring Game. He is quick for his size and obviously very powerful as a runner. Throws the ball much better than expected. Ole Miss coaches will probably have some package plays set up for him in short yardage or goal line situations. Look for Liggins and maybe even the Ole Miss Rebels to shock the world in 2014. He’s going to be one of my favorite guys to watch this season. The Ole Miss Rebels have a huge Offensive Line and there’s really no reason for them to not have a huge QB to match.
11. Johnathon Loyd- Oregon Loyd is not a big guy at about 5-8, 165. He has been playing guard on the Duck basketball team for 4 years and decided he wanted a shot at playing Wide Receiver and returning punts and kicks for the Ducks. Was a 4 year starter and possesses excellent quickness and athletic ability. I have little doubt that he can help the Ducks at Wide Receiver and he played high
school ball at perennial powerhouse Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. The Ducks lost top WR Josh Huff and their next top guy, Bralon Addison, tore his ACL and should miss part of the 2014 season. Look for Loyd to create instant excitement at both WR and as a return man immediately next season. Loyd looked good in the pads this Spring for the Ducks and is a fascinating prospect for Oregon in 2014.
12. Josh Tupou- Colorado. 6-3, 320 Buena Park, California. So far there has been nothing really super special about Tupou. He has been good while making 34 total tackles in 2013 and 3 of those being for losses and he helped out on one sack. But, as Tupou comes into his junior year in Boulder there is the feeling that he is about to have a breakout year. Tupou is big, strong and very quick and could be pretty mean and difficult to block in 2014. Look for Tupou to have a standout season in 2014 and begin to lead his team back to competitiveness. The Buffaloes have been down for a while but players like Josh Tupou are what have been needed to get them back to respectability.
13. Gerhard De Beer- Arizona. De Beer is a 6-7, 265 Rugby player and weight thrower for the Arizona Wildcats Track and Field team. He kind of reminds of Margus Hunt of the Cincinnati Bengals who was a former weight guy for the SMU Mustangs Track and Field team and originally from Estonia. SMU dropped Track and Field and Hunt found his way to the football field and did really well for the Mustangs and was a 2nd round pick of the Bengals.
De Beer has yet to do anything in American Football, but he has so much potential at several positions and is obviously a big, strong young guy. De Beer is from Pretoria, South Africa and is definitely an intriguing prospect at Defensive End or Tight End. Arizona is not located in a hot bed of high school football and why not take a chance on a prospect like this.
14. Matthew Harvey- South Carolina. Most anyone would be shocked to see Matthew Harvey make this list and be on the same page as some of the great ones mentioned already. But, when was the last time you saw a 6-8, 225 WR in college or in the NFL? Harvey was a walk-on from Rock Hill, SC that has yet to play for the South Carolina Gamecocks. But, I have vivid memories of 6-8 Harold Charmichael hauling in 590 NFL passes for 8,985 yards and 79 career TDs in 14 NFL seasons. I
know this is a bit of a stretch, but come on Steve Spurrier. How often do you get a 6-8, 225 walk-on WR? Maybe he has bricks for hands, but he certainly is an intriguing player and I am voting for Steve Spurrier, the annoying media’s ‘ole ball coach’ to give him a shot at game time. 6-8 is definitely a mismatch for any Defensive Back even in the vaunted SEC.