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F10Y CFB Player to Watch: Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

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It’s Friday and we have all made it through to another week and we are on the verge of another weekend of college football!

And what does that mean? It means it’s time for another Player to Watch and this week we are focusing on Notre Dame tight end, Michael Mayer.

Keith whetted your appetite for Mayer in his excellent scouting notes review of the Irish’s game against BYU last weekend. Mayer had an excellent game, the best of his season so far – 11 catches for 118 yards, with a couple of touchdowns.

However, I’ll leave the one game scouting notes to Keith and I’ll get on with a deep dive on this talented tight end prospect…

Let’s go back to the start and find out who Michael Mayer is…

6’4, 265lb, Michael Mayer has always been a high flyer when it comes to football, a 5-star prospect out of Covington, Kentucky he attended Covington Catholic High School and he was the MVP on a team that won a Kentucky state championship in 2019.

Mayer was the 2019 Gatorade Kentucky Football Player of the Year and named the Kentucky Coaches Association Mr. Football in the same year. The accolades kept coming in 2020 as he was selected to the US Army All-American Bowl.

The recruiting process yielded an avalanche of offers from big, Power-5 schools; Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, LSU and of course, his home state of Kentucky, amongst many more. However, he chose to enrol at the most prestigious catholic university in the world and head to South Bend, Indiana.

Mayer was the number one player in Kentucky and the number two tight end in the country, so there is no wonder that he was so sought after.

Once on campus, Mayer began to make an impact almost immediately – He played 12 games in his Freshman season, he was starting by game two and scored a touchdown in game three. He really was Playing like a Champion from day one.

Ever since, Mayer has been one of the brightest tight end prospects in college football… Let’s dive into the tape to see why.

In the modern NFL, tight ends are versatile weapons and can be used in diverse ways in the passing game as well as being blockers in the run game too.

The bread and butter is the passing game and being that safety net for quarterbacks, which is the area of the game that I really feel Mayer excels in. I feel this gives him an excellent floor when entering the league, and as always there’s room to grow.

This first clip shows Mayer lining up in a traditional tight end alignment and making a nice catch with soft hands for a big gain. This from the Toledo game is 2021:

25 yards as easy as that. Ok, it is against Toledo and the defenders aren’t of the quality of Notre Dame’s more high-end opponents, but a nice release up the sideline, tracked the ball really nicely and brought it in easily.

We can see that Mayer isn’t a super-quick, jumbo receiver but he’s excellent at traditional tight end things. Which I think still valuable in today’s NFL.

Speaking of traditional tight end things…

As much as being a Travis Kelce or Kyle Pitts-type X-receiver masquerading as a tight end is fun, it is important to be able to run-block and be traditional, especially in an offense such as what the 49ers run with tight ends like George Kittle.

Mayer is certainly willing when it comes to run blocking. He motions across from the opposite side of the formation in this split-zone run, he opens up the lane to spring a big run, which is all very NFL run game, a team like the Rams run this kind of play a great deal, although this wouldn’t be Matthew Stafford running down the sideline.

Again, there is the caveat of Toledo and Mayer could be more aggressive in the block. However, you can see that he knows what he’s doing; he activates his hips and gets his hands underneath the pads of the defender to leverage him out of the way.

Whilst Mayer can do a lot of the traditional tight end things, he can also split out, off the offensive line, a la Kelce or Pitts. He isn’t the athlete of either of these two, he’s not even close, to be honest, but it’s nice to see this in his locker, big slot receiver’s are in vogue right now.

What I like about this clip from last year’s game against Cincinnati, is that he can make a long reception, in traffic with defenders diving and ready to lay a big hit on him. He is also able to run down the seam and show his physicality to shrug away the defender and create some separation.

We can see this kind of physicality on show in last year’s Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State.

The added layer from the previous clip to this one is that we can add in that Mayer is a red zone weapon. Big bodies can be great in the red zone; they can body up smaller defenders and box out players on well-placed throws that only he can bring in. Mix in the fact that he can be used in a variety of ways – Y-tight end, in-line tight end, H-back and Notre Dame do so here.

The Irish are in heavy personnel, with 3 tight ends in 13 personnel which forces the Cowboys into base defense and expecting a run. There are only two men out on routes but two crossing routes put the defensive backs in a bind and Mayer has leverage and uses his physicality to get separation and it’s an easy catch and score.

Mayer also scored a second touchdown against Oklahoma State too, another red zone score which again demonstrates what his value will likely be in the NFL.

Big bodies over the middle in the red zone will never not be an option for quarterbacks. Mayer shows his hands again here with an excellent diving catch. He also shows a little bit of wiggle with a drop of a shoulder, and mix that with a nice play design and a high quality tight end means it’s going to be a touchdown as long as the QB makes the throw.

As is tradition for this article, there’s always got to be a but, the area of improvement.

It’s tough to show in one clip but I feel like you could see it in every clip I’ve got here but it centres around his athleticism. As much as Mayer can clearly threaten down the seam and he can make plays in the deep portion of the field, I feel like his lack of juice could limit his ceiling and perhaps the separation that he could attain in the NFL.

Can this get better? Maybe marginally but he is what he is at this point and he has the ready-made body of an NFL tight end which isn’t going to drastically change.

However, at the end of the day, I still feel he has a bright future in the pros. 

So what can we expect this weekend against Stanford in one of college football’s most traditional rivalry games?

Well, Stanford isn’t having a great season so far, with a record of 1-4 in a fun Pac-12 conference, their only win coming against Colgate in their opening game. On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame has had a little bit of a resurgence after a somewhat sticky start to the season.

Stanford doesn’t really have any great safety or linebacker who will be tasked with guarding Mayer and attempting to take him out of the game. So perhaps the best comparison and battle could be offense vs. offense, and perhaps tight end vs. tight end.

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Stanford has their own exciting tight end in Benjamin Yurosek. Yurosek isn’t of the same calibre of Mayer, albeit he was a 4-star prospect out of high school. Last season Yurosek had 658 yards and 3 touchdowns to Mayer’s 840 and 7. Not a million miles away, especially when considering Notre Dame was 11-2 and was ranked #8 in the country, whereas Stanford, well, was not.

I expect Notre Dame to win but Stanford’s offense can put up some points with Tanner McKee under center, who, by the way, is the best QB in this game on Saturday.

After this season, what can we expect some draft weekend?

Carrying on from earlier in the article, I fully expect the trend of Mayer being a high-flyer to continue come the spring.

As shown above, he is a plus-pass catcher and he will be ready to contribute on an NFL offense immediately. He has an NFL body and he passes the tight end eye-test, both on the field and also in the mugshot too. Just check out his Notre Dame bio, just look at that square jaw and thick neck, those are NFL traits as much as the height, weight and on-field play. 

In terms of tight end, the college football landscape and in particular the media coverage is dominated by Georgia guys like Darnell Washington and most of all, Brock Bowers. However, Bowers isn’t draft eligible until next year and Mayer should be talked about just as much, I feel he just doesn’t bring the monster, highlight plays that you see from Bowers on social media.

This shouldn’t be thought of as a negative though, Mayer does a lot of things well and he’s one of the best out there. Mayer is likely to be the first tight end off the board in April and that should mean he’s a first round player.

So to conclude…

Mayer is a traditional tight end prospect who has the skill set to fit into a lot of offenses around the NFL. He can improve in run blocking and maybe get a little faster and stronger in a professional weight programme but I do think we will hear the phrase NFL ready when the calendar turns to 2023 and we are in the thick of the pre-draft cycle.

Mayer reminds me of a player like Hunter Henry; a big body who can be a safe pair of hands over the middle and down the seams, he can be a serviceable blocker and a red zone weapon. One for your fantasy teams and for a long career in the NFL, another great prospect out of Notre Dame and one I am looking forward to watching this weekend.

Follow Lee on Twitter @Wakefield90

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F10Y CFB Player to Watch: Blake Corum, Michigan

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It’s that time again! It’s time to sit down and check in on one of the more interesting players and match ups for this weekend’s college football schedule in our Player to Watch space.

However, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that this column appears to have somewhat of a touch of bad luck that follows the players covered – You can read the rest here – With none having a particularly great outing game after being written up.

Big Blue fans will hope that a similar effect isn’t felt by their star running back in this weekend’s game against Iowa… Although, how do you better 243 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns? Anyway, let’s get into Blake Corum…

So who is this power cube of a running back?

Blake Corum is on quite the tear to start this season as Michigan have stormed to a 4-0 start and to #4 in the AP Top 25 (although more importantly to the same position in the UK & Ireland CFB Media Rankings). Corum has scored at least one touchdown in each of the four games, he has had a 5 touchdown game against UConn and followed this with the aforementioned 243 yard game against Maryland last weekend! So it’s safe to say that he’s having quite the season so far!

Last year he was part of an absolutely deadly duo with Hassan Haskins in the Wolverines backfield with the pair combining for over 2,400 all-purpose yards. These guys powered Michigan as they won the Big Ten Championship, ended the season ranked #3 in the country, losing in the college football playoff semi-final to eventual champions Georgia and best of all, beat Ohio State. 

I’ve got to say I was very interested to see how Corum would fare without Haskins, but he seems to be shouldering the load and thriving as the main man this season! Whether he succumbs to the previously discussed Player to Watch Kiss of Death remains to be seen.

Into the background before we get some film study in then; Corum stands at 5’8 and packs a dense 210 lbs on to his frame – We really are talking about a wrecking ball of a runner here. Corum grew up in Marshall Virginia before heading to St. Frances Academy in Baltimore for High School where he accumulated over 40 touchdowns across his Junior and Senior seasons, which earned him a 4-star rating across all major recruiting sites. 

Since arriving on campus in Ann Arbor, Corum has worked his way up the depth chart to make it into his current role; in his Freshman season he mainly saw action as a returner, returning five kicks and one punt, with small action as the third running back in rotation. Although he showed his potential by scoring twice in 31 total touches. Then came the breakout Sophomore season where he and Haskins dominated pretty much everyone they faced.

Let’s see how he does his damage…

Corum is a squatty back who can do damage between the tackles. He has a jittery, one-cut style and good vision, which is fantastic when combined with his burst and lateral quickness when needed to create yardage.

Check out how he makes the first man miss with a cut to the outside before a little shake’n’bake leaves another Northwestern defender’s ankles in shambles for a nice gain that leaves Michigan on the verge of a score.

Which brings me on to Blake’s next strength – The guy is a finisher from short yardage.

This is the very next play in the game against Northwestern. He doesn’t get stopped from that distance, as you can see in the above tweet thread vs. UConn. 

Let’s talk about an aspect where Blake is underused – Pass catching. With only 31 catches to date, there isn’t a huge sample size for this but I feel from what I did see, Corum has nice, soft hands and he can take in ones like this that require him to make a catch on the move. Back to the Northwestern game;

There’s no run after catch here, which I feel he can easily get in different circumstances, but I have included this one as I felt it was one that could easily have been dropped. He’s backpedalling, with defenders approaching at pace.

Generally speaking, I see a lot of evidence of Blake being a safe checkdown option with the ability to catch the ball with hands extended away from his body, before turning and accelerating upfield for a decent gain. Easy money for JJ McCarthy and Michigan.

This is an area that will also intrigue NFL teams and make them wonder about his ceiling in his area, because it does feel like there’s untapped potential here.

 This next clip is one I absolutely love, which is from the Michigan State game from last year. Michigan schemes up a lovely run off the left side of their line here, Corum shows outstanding patience to wait for the blockers to open things up and he’s able to burst through the gap. This is a long-developing run play with both tight ends making their way across the formation, as well as the center getting involved. Some running backs would get jittery and get dancing feet in the backfield on plays like this, but not Blake.

It’s not a huge gain but just shows his maturity as a runner.

I’ve also seen multiple instances of Corum being willing and able to do the dirty work as a running back. Corum is willing to chip as he releases out of the backfield, he’s willing to stay in as a pass protector when needed too, and he’s more than a speed bump in those situations. Corum will also get after it as a blocker downfield too when the ball doesn’t go to him and he puts in the effort when doing so.

Add this to his value as a returner, (although as the clear RB1 Michigan hasn’t asked him to return through four games this year) and we have a player whose stock has a good floor level. 

However, as is tradition here in the Player to Watch film segment, we can’t finish off before giving one area of weakness and for Corum aside from his size profile, it’s his long speed. 

In short areas he’s great and he has the burst to make a short gain into a long one but over long distances he’s just not a burner.

We can see this in this return against Western Michigan last season. It’s a superb play and sets Michigan up with fantastic field position, but I feel like a real speedster takes his to the house.

A positive within a play I’m using a negative though – The contact balance is brilliant. Corum’s low center of gravity and thick lower half means he’s very difficult to bring down on first contact.

On to this weekend!

This week against Iowa sees Corum face a stingy defense with a couple of big linebackers…

Iowa’s record stands at 3-1 for the season so far, which on the face of it, seems pretty good. However, anyone who has been paying attention to college football will have noticed that the Iowa offense has become somewhat of a meme with their lack of scoring punch. Although, back-to-back 27 point outputs (albeit against Nevada and Rutgers) may stem the tidal wave of tweets somewhat.

On the flip side, the Hawkeyes defense is performing at a high level, having given up just 20 total points all season. Ok, the opponents have been South Dakota State, Iowa State, Nevada and Rutgers but still, this defense has always been a good units that has almost always performed to a level that is more than the sum of its parts in under Kirk Ferentz and DC, Phil Parker.

The unit is anchored by linebackers, Jestin Jacobs and star man, Jack Campbell, who was ranked very highly by myself and Keith in our Summer Scouting podcast. Jacobs measures up at 6’4 and Campbell at 6’5, unusual given their positions, so it will really feel like a David and Goliath(s) game when Corum gets to the second level. Campbell in particular is a tackling machine with good tackle radius and stopping power. He’s not the most athletic when moving side-to-side, but I know he’ll have been devouring Corum film in the lead up to this game and will be ready.

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I really feel like this one-on-one is key – If Campbell can stop Corum from getting going, it’ll go a long way to stopping the cogs in the Michigan machine from turning, and give Iowa a chance to stay in the game and maybe steal it. The Wolverines may have put up 200 points so far this season but this is Big Ten football now, and Kinnick Stadium is never an easy place to play.

So should you be looking forward to seeing Corum on Sundays?

Corum will get drafted, there’s no doubt in my mind about that.

He has been very productive, he’s got some interesting traits as we discussed earlier, as well as some special teams value. He has also played at a high level for a blue blood programme, in a time of success for the programme. However, just how high will he be drafted?

I feel like Corum’s size puts limitations on his draft ceiling – There just aren’t too many 5’8 running backs who are hugely successful in the league right now and of course, running back is a hugely devalued position in today’s NFL, especially when it comes to the draft.

His old buddy Hassan Haskins was picked up with the 131st Pick (fourth round) by the Tennessee Titans, and I think that could be a similar point in which Corum has his name called on day 3 of the draft next April.

Yes, it sounds sort of disrespectful to say that his super-productive college player will go on day 3, but that’s the reality of having this profile, at this position. Every season there is a running back who is productive in the NFL, that 90% of fans of his team won’t have heard of before he started scoring touchdowns on Sundays. Think of someone like Elijah Mitchell at the 49ers, he was drafted in the 6th round and has 1,100 scrimmage yards last year! However that is sadly the reality of it, especially when he doesn’t have that breakaway speed. He’s a short-term, short yardage battering ram, the kind of back that an NFL team will draft, run into the ground whilst on his rookie contract and then discard, in all likelihood.

Sad, but true. 

To Conclude… 

Corum is a super-fun player to watch and he will be fondly remembered in Ann Arbor and by Michigan fans for a long while. However, there’s a part of me which feels that he could blend into relative obscurity in the NFL, whilst having a respectable career for a decent number of years.

The sort of player who makes me think, fun college player but just fine in the NFL. 

So let’s enjoy his dominance whilst he’s still playing on Saturdays! Corum is worth a watch almost alone for a Michigan team who will be pushing all the way for that 4th playoff spot this year and another visit to the CFB playoff.

By Lee Wakefield – Follow Lee on Twitter, @Wakefield90

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F10Y CFB Player to Watch – Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State

Welcome in once again to our Player of the Week space. This week I am heading back to the well of my favourite position in football and talking about an edge defender. This week I’m running the rule over s true breakout pass rusher, who may seem a little off the beaten track right now but come draft time, I think Felix Anudike-Uzomah will be appearing in a lot of top 50 lists, or even first round mock drafts.

Full disclosure, and perhaps a little teaser for later in the season, this week I really was tossing up between writing about Felix and another Big XII edge, Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson – Let me know if you would like to see that one in the next few weeks!

So Kansas State has a new star man… on defense!

It’s been a while since Kansas State has had a potential defensive star on their hands.

The Wildcats have had a couple of second round offensive linemen in recent times, Dalton Risner, Cody Whitehair… As well as Tyler Lockett, who has blossomed into a ln important player for the Seahawks, but again, he was a day two selection.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah could buck that trend and be the first Wildcat to be drafted in the first round since Josh Freeman in 2009, and the first defensive player taken on the first day of the draft since Terrence Newman in 2005.

So yeah, it’s been a minute. 

Anudike-Uzomah is a 6’4 Junior who tips the scales at 255lbs, so he is on the lighter side for an edge defender, especially considering that K-State typically lines up in a 3-3-5 base defense (more of his role and alignment later).

As I’ve alluded to, Kansas State isn’t a hotbed of talent who sends players to the NFL on a regular basis – Although, offensive lineman Cooper Beebe is highly thought of, especially by our guys who scouted him in summer. They have also Deuce Vaughn, who may carve himself out a spot in the league despite being very, very small by NFL standards.

This also speaks to Felix’s time before rocking up in Manhattan. He was a 3-star recruit from Lee’s Summit High School, in suburban Kansas City, and despite a steady stream of tackles for loss as a Junior and Senior in high school and earning district honors from the Missouri media and coaches association, the offers did not roll in. According to 24/7 Sports, Felix committed to North Dakota State in September 2019 and in December of the same year, he had de-committed and signed up with Kansas State.

And those were his only two offers. There are also no mention of offers on any other site that I usually cross reference information on either, including his K-State bio.

It is said that everyone develops at different rates on the football field and Kansas State must be ecstatic that they managed to get a local kid whose talent would usually be snapped up by a more illustrious football programme.

Felix saw action in his True Freshman season, playing a handful of games and rotating into the defensive line, although, in limited action he still managed one sack.

However, it was in 2021, as a Sophomore where he truly took flight! 12 games, 14.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and an even more incredible six forced fumbles. Everything just clicked for him and now he’s making splash plays and has become a game wrecker!

No signs of him being a one season wonder either, this season through three games, 9 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks and another forced fumble. With seven forced fumbles, he is actually only three shy of the Kansas State school record.


So where did this homegrown diamond come from? Let’s look at how he plays…

As usual, I’ll start with the first thing that jumped off the screen when I was going over the film – Felix burst and he’s also a very willing worker. Given that Kansas State is sometimes only rushes three and this means that Felix spends a lot of time lined up as a 4i, and therefore the offensive line has a natural double team on him. 

This isn’t the prettiest sack of his career so far but I feel like it really shows that he can work for his rewards and it does reward him. He’s lined up in the 4i here and has the agility and wherewithal to defeat the chop block and then chase down Spencer Sanders for a sack.

A lot of his positives that I’ve listed on his evaluation are linked to his physical gifts. In addition to the quickness and motor that I mentioned above, it’s his ability to turn the corner and flatten the arc whilst in contact with the lineman.

Felix was absolutely dominant in this game vs. TCU – four sacks and two forced fumbles. I am not sure if someone could turn a corner more here as he performs a 180 on this play to take down the QB.

Lined up on the nearside of the defensive line (#91), he beats the tackle around the edge – And he was a little slow off the mark (more of that next) – and then is able to tightly turn and take the passer down from behind.

Would I like to see further refinement? Of course! There are instances such as this one below, where I would love to see more development with his understanding of the game and offenses. I’ve slowed this clip down just before the snap so that you can see just how late he gets off the ball here, especially in comparison to his fellow defensive linemen.

Just as in the second clip, he needs to learn how to time the snap better and get off the ball a fraction quicker. The battle between offensive and defensive linemen is all about racing to landmarks and beating each other by fractions of a second. It’s encouraging that he’s having success in spite of this flaw. 

So back to positives, I’m really encouraged by the breakout in production that he’s had in general. The caveat is that it is in the Big XII and therefore he’s maybe not seeing the greatest level of competition.

Although, wanting to remain positive; he knows how to win reps, and has done so with frequency over the past season and a bit and he has the unteachable stuff. He’s got the god-given attributes that some players simply don’t have bestowed on them.

Lastly, and I’ll discuss the importance of this more further down the page, but I love his nose for the ball… check this forced fumble out.

Super valuable play here near the goal line and he has shown a knack for this kind of thing. Felix (lined up on the far side of the defensive line) gets depth and drives his lineman (#55) back, but he’s also aware of the QB and as the quarterback tries to scramble, he’s able to make the tackle and force the ball loose. 

With that in mind, how is this going to translate into the NFL?

Anudike-Uzomah could be drafted in the league today and cause issues for lower-level tackles just due to pure speed and physical gifts. I absolutely loved Azeez Ojulari a couple of draft cycles back, who was all speed and needed refinement in the same sort of manner and he had a very successful rookie year, registering 8 sacks. 

Azeez is quicker than Felix, but Felix’s nose for forced fumbles gives him a real edge and another layer to his game that gives me confidence that he’ll be a success in the league.

Defense in 2022 is all about turnovers, getting another possession for your offense. Forced fumbles are a great way to get turnovers!

As a Chargers fan, I heard a veteran player like Joey Bosa say that he wanted to add strip sacks to his game a couple of years back and last season in 2021, he had seven in 16 games. That’s huge for a defense to have that many opportunities to get the ball back, and Felix already has this kind of killer instinct in his game.

This week’s match up is an interesting one…

Kansas State heads to Norman, Oklahoma, off the back of a jarring loss to Tulane with the hopes of getting back on track.

Off course, heading to the home of the conference heavyweights is never going to be an easy task. Brent Venables has made a solid start to life as the Sooners’ Head Coach and they have recorded three resounding victories so far this season.

Quarterback Dillon Gabriel has the mobility to make the defensive line’s day very frustrating – He has to be accounted for as a runner and can slip out of what is seemingly a negative play until he slips away and runs for a big gain.

However, before Gabriel, Felix has got star left tackle, Anton Harrison to deal with. Harrison is one of the better thought of tackles in the 2023 draft class – Again, you can hear our pod here on offensive line for fuller analysis.

If Felix and the Kansas State coaches look at moving him around, Wanya Morris, Oklahoma’s right tackle, is no slouch either, so I’ve no doubt that this will be a test for Felix in the early hours of Sunday morning (UK time).

So to conclude…

Felix Anudike-Uzomah is an intriguing prospect with big upside and a couple of flaws and aspects of his game that need more work.

I don’t feel like the ways in which K-State aligns him uses him to his full potential. I don’t feel like he has the size profile to play as a down lineman in an odd front. He’s not the sort of build that we would typically see from a team line the Patriots in the league, who have had lines for 280-290lbs defensive linemen who have little in the way of juice but are super disciplined and are powerful against the run, Felix isn’t a guy like that, and he’s being put in those spots. 

We haven’t seen him stand up as a pass rusher as of yet and I would be really interested to see him deployed in a way that gets him more one-on-one match ups with tackles from either a wider alignment or even front as a more traditional 5 or even 7-tech defensive end.  

His stance is nice and low, he’s got the physical tools and he obviously knows how to win and be productive, so rushing from wider with his hand in the dirt, would put him in a more advantageous position.

Landing spot is going to be so important but I feel like this is a player who can put up numbers and be a game wrecker in the NFL.

Follow Lee on Twitter @Wakefield90

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College Football Player to Watch; Jordan Addison, USC

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Welcome in to our Player to Watch series for week 2 of the college football season! This week we will be putting the spotlight on USC wide receiver, Jordan Addison.

Last week, I put Isaiah Foskey of Notre Dame under the microscope in the lead up to the college football game of the week as the Irish clashed with Ohio State (read that here).

This past week Jordan Addison suited up for his Trojans debut against Rice as Southern California ran out 66-14 winners, and he had five catches for 56 yards and a pair of scores – More of that game a little bit later on.

Today, we’ll look into who Addison is, what makes him such a high-end receiver, and who Addison is going to be battling this week against Stanford.

So Jordan Addison, you may have heard of him before…

Addison measures up at 6’, weighs in at 175lbs and is a former 4-star recruit out of Frederick, Maryland. Strangely, he wasn’t recruited as much as you would have imagined considering he was a four year high school starter who played receiver, quarterback and defensive back in High School. When considering he averaged over 20 yards per reception and scored 8 touchdowns in his Senior season as well, it really does get quite curious. 

Addison had offers from Virginia, South Carolina, East Carolina and Pittsburgh, with perhaps his best offer coming from Notre Dame. But that’s it, which strikes me as odd considering what a star he’s become as he moves into his Junior season. 

Last season whilst at Pittsburgh, Addison was one of the best receivers in college football, bringing in 100 catches for 1,593 yards (the fourth most in college football) whilst finding the end zone 18 times (17 receptions and 1 rushing) which was the most in college football. So there was no wonder why there were a number of programmes linked to him once it was clear he was going to be heading to the transfer portal.

So we clearly have a super-talented receiver here and he should be in for a monster season in Lincoln Riley’s offense, but how does he do it?

After spending time watching Jordan Addison’s film from last year, I really see a complete receiver at the collegiate level and I was super impressed with the majority of what I saw.

Addison is a complete receiver in terms of the ways in which he can be used and the ways he can hurt an opponent. He can line up inside or outside, he can get open in short and intermediate areas with his route running ability, but he’s also got the speed and the understanding of tempo to win in the deep part of the field. Equally, he’s a player who an offensive coordinator can give manufactured touches to on plays like bubble screens and hand offs, just to see what he can create for himself with his ability to make a defender miss.

So the first couple of clips are what I consider the bread and butter for Addison; both clips show his awareness and ability to find soft spots in the intermediate areas of th field.

This first clip from Pittsburgh’s visit to Tennessee last year shows the understanding of tempo that I mentioned…

He doesn’t sprint out of his release, before stuttering on his cut which is made on the blindside of the linebacker and freezes the safety from triggering downhill on him. The cut is sharp and the reception is made.

This next clip from Pittsburgh’s game at home against Clemson. Addison plays through the traffic – Something that’ll be important in the NFL – And once again, finds the open grass in which to make the catch, and what a lovely catch it was too with strong hands extending away from the body.

Next up, and the penultimate clip I want to show you in this section, is to show you the threat to make plays in the deeper portion of the defense. I don’t feel like Clemson respects his ability to get behind them here. #24 trails but not close enough and the Tigers pay by giving up 6 points. I love the concentration that this catch would have taken, a pressure moment with a defender close by, and it was no problem at all.

Ok and lastly, I actually want to show you a really quick clip of one of the two touchdowns that Addison scored this past weekend. This route is one we see from Cooper Kupp and Hunter Renfrow a lot in the NFL, the whip route. This shows that you don’t need to be a hulking receiver to be effective in the red zone.

Clearly Addison is one of the better wide receivers in the college ranks, but how will this translate into the NFL?

It’s fairly clear to see that Addison is going to be undersized entering the NFL, and even if he packs on 10lbs or so, he’ll still be undersized. Even then, given his slight frame I don’t know if he could a) gain much more than that and b) benefit from the increased muscle without harming his speed and shiftiness that make him the player that he is. 

Does this mean he’s destined to be a slot-only receiver in the NFL? Potentially, yes. Addison’s skillset isn’t one that is going to win with physicality at the catch point against longer and taller outside corners, nor does he have the elite long speed of some smaller outside receivers such as Tyler Lockett or Hollywood Brown.

Does this harm his draft value though? I don’t actually feel like it will after the 2022 season and here’s why – Cooper Kupp just won the triple crown playing a lot of snaps from the slot and this season Justin Jefferson is going to be playing that Cooper Kupp role in Kevin O’Connell’s offense, O’Connell being the former Rams Offensive Coordinator. I feel like Jefferson is going to be put in a position where come the end of the season there could be a lot of fans around the league saying that he is the best receiver in the NFL, again, mostly working out of the slot. 

So slot receivers are super-valuable to NFL offenses these days, especially when they can block as well, which is where Addison comes back in.

Ok, look, I can’t say that he’s the finished article when it comes to blocking, because he’s not, he’s 175lbs however he is willing and he’ll go after defensive backs when tasked to! And maybe, this is when those extra 5-10lbs that he can add once in an NFL weight programme can come in handy.

So as much as a team wouldn’t be drafting a big, X-receiver who can run down the field and jump over guys, it’s also not the early 2000’s anymore and there is definitely a place for these kinds of guys be be really valuable to their teams and be a big success. 

Here’s a little taste of that willingness…

Anyway, enough of the NFL talk, what about this weekend against Stanford?

This week USC head to Northern California to face Stanford, who opened up their season with a win against Colgate 41-10, so both teams will be looking to move to 2-0 in their first conference clash of the year.

Stanford’s most talented defensive back in Kyu Blu Kelly, a Senior corner who has very similar dimensions to Jordan Addison at 6’1 and 190lbs. However, that seems to be where the similarities end, and that contrast of styles could lead to this being a very intriguing match up.

Kelly is a physical player who has that competitive fire that you like to see in number one corner who was great against Drake London when these two teams played each other last year, however, Drake London is a different proposition to Jordan Addison, and Addison may ask him questions that he’s less comfortable in answering with the shiftiness shown above.

Will Kelly be able to clamp down and physically overwhelm Addison or will the USC man prevail and be able to run away from his guy more often than not? Either way it’s another great matchup between two highly-touted draft prospects and well worth tuning in to. 

So in conclusion…

Jordan Addison and the USC offense are going to be a fun watch all season long and given that Oregon and Utah are already 0-1 after tough opening games, the Trojans are carrying the hopes of the conference with regards to the college football playoff (no pressure, guys).

Addison is going to be a monster in Riley’s system which will scheme him open and give him opportunities to make plays in natural and manufactured ways, so after a solid yardage total in week 1, watch out for him growing into the offense as he gains further experience in it.

Another 1,000+ yards is surely on the cards and I’ll be watching him add to it against Power-5 and conference competition in the early hours of Sunday morning and I hope that you will too.

Check back next Friday for the next instalment of the series – I have my eyes on a certain quarterback that many people are excited about.

Follow Lee on Twitter @Wakefield90