Louisville junior quarterback Brian Brohm, who some speculated could declare for the NFL draft after this season, will miss the next four to six weeks after suffering ligament damage in his right (throwing) hand. Brohm had successful surgery on Sunday morning, so it will be worth monitoring his rehabilitation to see if he can return for the toughest part of the Cardinals' schedule – the November 2 showdown against West Virginia, and then games against Rutgers, South Florida and Pittsburgh.
Head coach Bobby Petrino uses a multiple-set offensive scheme that has most of the snaps coming from the shotgun formation, so it allows Brohm to see the field and make some pre-snap reads. However, the offense fails to give scouts the chance to view Brohm's footwork. He has the natural arm strength to make any throw required by an NFL team, but he was already not the most fleet of foot quarterback before tearing the ACL in his right knee last season.
Brohm's production, powerful arm and pedigree should give him the chance to be a high first-round choice in either of the next two drafts. He has family members on the coaching staff, which could persuade him to play out his college career. However, his lack of playing time in a pro-set scheme will most certainly lead to comparisons to players like Tim Couch, Chris Redman and Patrick Ramsey – quarterbacks who have failed to make an impact in the NFL after playing in a similar style of college offense.
- Wake Forest linebacker Jon Abbate currently leads the Demon Deacons with 28 tackles, including 2½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks, helping their defensive unit limit opponents to just one field goal in the second half of their first three games – all victories. The junior has terrific natural instincts and tools for an inside linebacker, and he has better-than-advertised speed and athleticism.
The Chuck Bednarik Award nominee has recorded 177 tackles over his first two years, including 23 tackles in two contests against the University of Miami. He redshirted as a freshman, so he would actually be draft-eligible after this season. According to someone close to his family, Abbate has started to review his NFL draft potential. Well-known for his work ethic, strength and attitude on the field, he certainly could become a solid inside linebacker prospect, especially since he would turn heads with a 4.5-second 40-time and 36-inch vertical leap.
- Arizona kicker/punter Nick Folk has become a featured performer for the Wildcats this season, as he is performing all of the kicking duties for the team. The senior is averaging 47.3 yards per punt (with a third of his attempts landing inside the opponents' 20-yard line) and he has converted four of six field-goal attempts. However, what has made NFL scouts sit up in their chairs is the fact that he has 10 touchbacks on 12 kickoffs, including one that went directly through the uprights and bounced out of the end zone last week against Stephen F. Austin.
- Iowa junior inside linebacker Mike Klinkenborg was given the unenviable task of replacing All-Big Ten linebacker Abdul Hodge, but the past week gave Klinkenborg a whole new perspective on football and life, as he lost his father and biggest fan, Myron, just days before the in-state matchup against Iowa State. The Hawkeyes' new middle linebacker showed great heart, character and desire in recording eight tackles and playing with great emotion as his defense shut down the potent Cyclones attack in the second half to secure the win. On the season, Klinkenborg leads Iowa with 31 tackles in three games and has shown the leadership skills to make his father proud and make scouts pay attention.
- Auburn tight end Cole Bennett will miss four to six weeks after suffering a broken right ankle in the Tigers' win over LSU. The senior had been receiving positive acclaim from area scouts thanks to his size (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) and the fact that he had more downfield pass-catching ability than last year's starting tight end, Cooper Wallace, who made the Tennessee Titans' roster as an undrafted free agent. If Bennett returns for the end of the regular season and can run in the 4.70-second range in predraft workouts, he could very well work his way into the back end of the April draft.
- Tennessee defensive tackle Justin Harrell showed great leadership in playing through a ruptured tendon in his left biceps muscle against Florida, but the start to what Harrell expected to be a great senior campaign came to an end Monday, as he had surgery to repair the injury. His rehabilitation process will last at least three to four months, but he is expected to be healthy in time for next February's NFL combine.
Harrell stated that he does not plan to request a medical redshirt for this season since he was redshirted as a freshman. He also plans to move on to the NFL, having received as high as a second-round grade from some teams last January when he requested his grade from the NFL advisory board.
- Purdue tight end Dustin Keller is one of the main reasons why the Boilermakers have gotten out to a 3-0 start. At 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds, the junior is evolving into the Big Ten's best athlete at his position as the replacement for Charles Davis, who was drafted by the Steelers last April. Keller is averaging 20 yards per catch and scored on a 60-yard touchdown last week against Ball State as part of a four-catch, 148-yard afternoon.
Keller is a converted wide receiver who has grown into his new position, but he still has all of the same speed, athleticism and leaping ability that made him a finalist for Mr. Football in Indiana as a high-school senior. He has gained nearly 60 pounds over the last four years while keeping his 40 time in the 4.5 range, upping his bench press to over 425 pounds and hitting a vertical-jump high of 39 inches. This is a kid worth keeping an eye on in future matchups against Notre Dame, Iowa and Wisconsin, as he could be the difference maker in helping the Boilermakers earn upset wins over any of the three.
- California left tackle Andrew Cameron missed last week's game against Portland State due to a sprained ankle, but the senior hopes to return Saturday to face Pac-10 rival Arizona State. Cameron's absence allowed for a great story to unfold as his replacement was Mike Tepper, a 6-foot-6, 330-pound sophomore who missed all of last season while recovering from a hit-and-run incident.
Tepper protected a female student from two potential assailants and was run over not once but twice by the perpetrators' car. Last Saturday, he started and played all four quarters, and he may switch over to right tackle against ASU if Scott Smith is sidelined by a knee injury.
- BYU senior Eddie Keele suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Cougars' loss to Boston College. The starting left tackle had been playing some of the best ball of his career, and his improved strength at the point of attack and footwork had some area scouts talking about him producing a possible mid-round grade.
- New Mexico State senior wide receiver Aikeem Jolla, a former University of Miami transfer, played his first game of the season last Saturday, catching two passes for 22 yards. He is still recovering from right knee surgery, but expects to be at 100 percent over the coming weeks.
The New Orleans native moved to Las Cruces with his mother after dealing with the effects of Hurricane Katrina, but he now has high hopes to use his size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and big-play ability to attract the attention of area scouts. He caught 24 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns during his time with the Hurricanes, but the wide-open attack of head coach Hal Mumme could allow him to double his career stats during his senior campaign.
SMALL SCHOOL WONDERS
- Earlham College senior quarterback Justin Rummell, who earned an extra year of eligibility after missing most of last season with a foot injury, has had an explosive start for the Indiana school, passing for 1,145 yards (382 yards per game) with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 13-to-1. The Division III standout has had just a few local area scouts come through so far to watch his game film and practices, but the fact he is completing nearly 65 percent of his passes, can make most throws with ease, shows good footwork in the pocket and has better size (6-foot-2, 215) than you would expect for his level of competition, are starting to create a little bit of a stir in the Midwest. Rummell recently completed 30 of 39 passes for 507 yards and seven touchdowns to set several career marks. It was the second time he has thrown seven TD passes in a game, too.
- Northwestern State defensive lineman Tory Collins has seven tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack and one blocked kick to start off his final year in the Southland Conference. Those stats don't appear overly impressive, but the majority of the numbers came against the Louisiana school's Week 1 opponent – Kansas, a member of the Big 12 and a Division I-A program. The senior shined in a 49-18 loss, recording four tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack against the Jayhawks.
A former LSU recruit that transferred after his freshman year, the 6-foot-2, 293-pound Collins has developed into a versatile defender that has played both defensive end and tackle over the past three years. He has been timed in the 4.9 range at a similar size, and he will be closely monitored by NFL teams that employ a one-gap defensive scheme.
- Furman running back Jerome Felton carried the ball 18 times for 67 yards and four touchdowns against Division I-A opponent North Carolina last weekend. The junior leads the team with six touchdowns and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry through three games.
At 5-foot-11 and 248 pounds, Felton brings a bruising, between-the-tackles running style to the Paladins, but he also has quick feet and can turn some plays outside for long gains. It will be crucial for him to improve as a receiver out of the backfield and become a stronger blocker, as some NFL teams will evaluate him as a possible one back while others will see him as having a fullback-type body for the NFL.
- Wagner College wide receiver Chris Turner, who will set or break most of the Staten Island, N.Y., school's all-time receiving records by season's end, currently leads the team with 12 catches for 136 yards and three touchdowns, which gives him 28 career TD receptions. The senior was not heavily recruited by the big-name schools along the East Coast, so he decided to commit to Wagner rather than walk on at Syracuse. Now, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound native of upstate New York is turning heads thanks to his prowess of using his size and leaping ability to find the end zone.
NFL area scouts were pleased to find wide receivers like Hofstra's Marques Colston and Monmouth's Miles Austin a year ago. Both players made NFL rosters this season, and that should provide Turner with the same opportunity should he maintain his 4.55-second time in the 40 during postseason workouts.
- Duquesne wide receiver Bruce Hocker has opened the eyes of opposing Metro Atlantic Athletic defensive coordinators thanks to his size and production early this season. The junior is averaging 22.2 yards per catch and has scored on nearly half (seven) of his total receptions (13). At just over 6-foot-3, Hocker has also added weight to his long, lean frame, as he currently weighs in between 200 and 205 pounds.
Hockner catches the ball with his hands, runs crisper short-to-intermediate routes and is an impressive leaper – he goes up to grab the ball at its highest point, providing his quarterback with a great target along the sideline. Hocker is also able to chew up yardage after the catch and use his long arms to distance himself from defenders. However, he needs to have the chance to play against a higher level of competition in the postseason following his senior year.