We present the top draft eligible players from week 1
Eric McGuire’s picks:
Offensive: Alabama RB Derrick Henry. vs #20 Wisconsin. 13 carries 147 yards rushing, 2 receptions for 12 yards and 3 total touchdowns. Henry has jumped in for the draft departed TJ Yeldon and in this game proved the run game is still the strength of this Crimson Tide team. Henry will continue to run through defenses and it will be interesting to see how he fares against the tough SEC defenses as the season progresses.
Defensive: Marshall S Tiquan Lang. vs Purdue. Finished the game with 17 total tackles 2 interceptions for 85 yards and 2 Touchdowns. Lang also added 1 quarterback hurry. Lang takes over a starting role this season after being a top reserve the previous two seasons. The Valdosta, Georgia native is a leader for the Thundering Herd defense that hopes to defend it’s Conference USA title this season.
Special Teams: Maryland CB William Likely. vs Richmond. 8 punt returns for 233 yards and 2 kickoff returns for 63 yards, which totaled 296 all purpose yards on 10 touches. Set the Big 10 record for single game punt return yards set by Iowa’s Nile Kinnick in 1939 of 201 yards. On defense, Likely contributed 4 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 2 pass break ups. Likely should be on everyones radar as not only a special teams ace, but a stud corner on the outside.
Bret LaGasse’s Picks:
Offensive: Oregon RB Royce Freeman vs Eastern Washington. Freeman carried the ball 21 times for 180 yards, and 3 TDs. That’s an 8.6 yard per carry average. He also had 2 catches for 18 yards. Oregon’s offense is explosive and generally highlighted by the QB play, but Freeman has been an overlooked entity that has helped Oregon remain a big play offense.
Defensive: Ole Miss DL Robret Nkemdiche vs Tennessee-Martin. Nkemdiche finished the game with 3 tackles, 1 TFL, a blocked kick, and even hauled in a pass for a 31 yard TD. Nkemdiche is an athletic DL with good size at 6’4 295. He showed that athleticism and high motor with his 31 yard TD catch and his blocked kick.
Special Teams: Darius Phillips vs Michigan State. Phillips had 4 kick returns, 185 yards and 1 td. His TD came from a 100 return. Phillips had a good day returning kicks against a good special teams unit of Michigan State. He wasn’t as good as Likely, but he had a productive enough day to help keep Western Michigan keep pace with Michigan State.
Honorable Mention: Riley Bullough Michigan State, Tyler Matakavich Temple, Trevone Boykin TCU, Corey Coleman Baylor.