Week 2 of the college football season brought about many standout performances at all levels of competition. Live scouting games as they happen throughout the weekend, scouring through my pages of notes, and making sense of the second full week of games, I was able to piece together and discover five prospects who stood out.
Here are the five draft-eligible prospects that caught my eye the most from the weekend.
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
After only playing in three games last season due to a fractured bone in his leg, many evaluators had their sights set on Ann Arbor entering this season. After Kwity Paye was selected in the first round last year, there were some that thought that Hutchinson was even better than him through the early portions of the 2020 season.
Now fully healthy, he dominated in the Wolverines’ season-opening victory over Western Michigan. Recording four tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and even blocked a field goal, No. 97 flashed during multiple points in the game. What was noticeable and has always been his forte is his motor. Hutchinson plays every snap as if it’s the first one of the game.
With that in mind, the best prospect vs. prospect matchup of Week 2 included him as he was matched up against Washington’s Jaxson Kirkland. After getting off to a bit of a slow start through the first quarter and a half, he began to settle in and showed flashes of what we saw during the first week of the season.
His hustle and relentlessness to ball locations were evident, but it’s his hand polish as a pass rusher that’s led to him experiencing high levels of success early on during the season. After being sidelined for most of last season, if Hutchinson continues to put on tape what he’s displayed through the first two games of the season, he will be a strong contender to be the second-best edge rusher in this draft class behind Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Verone McKinley III, SAF, Oregon
Coming into the showdown against Ohio State, McKinley III wasn’t a prospect that I had my eyes set on entering the afternoon. Down two of its best defenders in Thibodeaux and linebacker Justin Flowe, the Ducks managed to march into Columbus and came away with a big victory. A large amount of credit on the defensive side goes to McKinley III.
Breaking out early as a redshirt freshman, he tied for the Pac-12 lead in interceptions (four) while experiencing plenty of success during a shortened season last year. After suffering some losses in the secondary, McKinley III was expected to take on a bigger role.
On Saturday, I kept making notes about No. 23 making plays on defense and special teams. Finishing the game with six tackles, two pass deflections, and a crucial interception to go along with a forced fumble during a kickoff return, there wasn’t an area of the game that McKinley III didn’t have an effect on. In what’s viewed as a deep safety class, he’s another name to monitor as the season progresses.
Tyler Badie, RB, Missouri
A player that patiently waited for his opportunity and is now reaping the benefits of it, Badie was stuck behind Larry Rountree III through the first three seasons of his career. Now, as the 1A option, he’s off to a historic start. Displaying his versatility, he’s currently the nation’s leader in scrimmage yards (392) as he’s had a heavy impact as both a runner (264 yards) and receiver (128 yards).
Decobie Durant, CB, South Carolina State
One of the better performances of the weekend came in the FCS ranks. A program that’s churned out notable names such as Darius Leonard and Javon Hargrave, Durant seems to be the next in line. When evaluating FCS or small-school prospects, the first tape that they will turn on is the highest quality opponent that they faced. Matched up against Clemson, the Bulldogs corner collected two interceptions: a tipped pass off of a failed screen pass and another off of a vertical shot down the field.
Outside of the two turnovers, Durant showed to be his normal quick-footed and active self. Recording 12 pass breakups and five interceptions through his career prior to that point, Durant is an FCS prospect whose stock continues to surge.
Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland
A prospect that’s somehow still not being brought up among some of the better receivers in this draft class, Demus continues to stack productive games on his resume. After a dominant victory over Howard, Demus Jr. has caught a touchdown in seven straight games. Off to a fast start this season, he’s recorded 261 receiving yards on 12 catches and two touchdowns. Averaging nearly 22 yards per reception, he’s one of the better vertical options in the country. At 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, he’s a thick-bodied receiver that can satisfy many roles in an offense.