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Prospect watch: McFadden flies

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Arkansas junior running back Darren McFadden rushed for 321 yards in the Razorbacks' upset win over South Carolina on Nov. 3.

His record-setting afternoon came as no surprise to anyone who has watched the future top-5 NFL draft choice. In three career games against the Gamecocks, he has totaled 727 yards rushing (242-yard average). He followed the effort against South Carolina with a 117-yard game against Tennessee.

In less than three full seasons in the SEC, McFadden has already rushed for more career yards than Emmitt Smith, Cadillac Williams and Dalton Hilliard. He is less than 150 yards from passing Bo Jackson.

GROVES MOVES OUTSIDE

Auburn senior defensive end Quentin Groves has been converted back to playing some outside linebacker. The coaching staff has decided that since the NFL might be judging him as a future standup defensive end or outside linebacker, that it would help his pro grade and give them a new dimension. He will still line up at defensive end in certain packages, but for the most part, NFL scouts will not have to wait until the postseason to judge his footwork and instincts from a position that most feel could be his best spot at the next level.

TOUGH LUCK FOR TRIBBLE

Boston College senior cornerback DeJuan Tribble missed the Eagles' win over Clemson after suffering a sprained MCL in his right knee. Tribble, who is also a very dangerous punt returner, is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. He could return for the team's bowl game. He has already been invited to play in the Senior Bowl thanks to his late first-round grade entering this season.

DUNBAR IMPRESSES

Boston College senior inside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar missed several weeks with a high left ankle sprain, but returned to play against Clemson. Dunbar has drawn praise from scouts for his instincts, quick reaction time and sideline-to-sideline speed. Depending on the scheme, Dunbar could be a second- to fourth-round pick.

NO ACTION FOR JACKSON?

California junior wide receiver/return man DeSean Jackson could miss the Bears' regular-season finale against Stanford after suffering a right thigh bruise in Saturday's loss to Washington. The Bears' slide and the ineffectiveness of Jackson and junior quarterback Nate Longshore could keep the pair in Berkeley for another year. But it could be hard for Jackson to pass up the chance at first-round money if he receives a high grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.

BOWMAN BOWS OUT

Oklahoma State senior wide receiver Adarius Bowman will miss the rest of the season after suffering a sprained right knee in the team's loss to Kansas. Bowman could be recovered in time to play in a postseason all-star game.

DIXON DONE

Oregon senior quarterback Dennis Dixon is facing a six-month rehab after re-injuring his left knee in the Ducks' loss to Arizona last Thursday. He first hurt the knee against Arizona State. The loss of Dixon is huge for a team that had the inside track on the Rose Bowl if not the BCS title game, but it also deals a large blow to his draft grade. The earliest he will be healthy is next spring after the NFL draft. Therefore, a team will have to judge the progress he made as a senior and decide whether to invest a mid-to-late-round pick on a prospect who is also considering pro baseball.

O'CONNELL RISES San Diego State senior quarterback Kevin O'Connell has put himself on the map thanks to his mobility and improvement as a passer. He already holds the school career records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. He has completed 59 percent of his passes while throwing just seven interceptions in 333 pass attempts. He moves very well for being 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. O'Connell has earned the attention of area scouts, especially after having one of his best afternoons against a tough Cincinnati defense, then completing his first 11 passes two weeks ago at UNLV.

HILLS' BAD BREAK

Texas senior offensive tackle Tony Hills is out for the season after fracturing his left leg against Texas Tech two weeks ago. His injury came on the heels of the one suffered by senior center Dallas Griffin, who is finished for the season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee last month. Griffin was given late-round to priority free agent grades entering this season, so expect to see several teams compete for his services.

BAKER SITS

USC senior offensive tackle Sam Baker could miss several weeks with a partially torn left hamstring. Baker's injury history has many scouts wondering about his pro potential.

WASHINGTON'S LATE PUSH

USC senior running back Chauncey Washington drew notice with a career-high 220 yards on a season-high 29 carries, including a touchdown, in a victory over California. He had been rotating with several other backs throughout this season, but finally had the chance to be the workhorse. Washington has had academic issues during his career, but leads the team with 748 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. He is a tough runner, but might lack that extra burst in the open field to make him more than a late-round type prospect.

POSTSEASON UPDATES

• Nebraska senior quarterback Sam Keller is still hopeful that he can rehab his injured left shoulder in time to play in the East-West Shrine Game. Keller has completed more than 63 percent of his passes this season, but had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 14:10.

• Alabama defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

• Clemson offensive tackle Barry Richardson has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Richardson needs to pick up his game as many scouts believe he is an underachiever.

• Newbery (S.C.) offensive lineman Heath Benedict has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Benedict, who is recovering from a minor injury, will be allowed to practice at both tackle and guard, although most scouts believe he is an interior lineman.

• The injury to Oregon QB Dennis Dixon could create a spot for Erik Ainge (Tennessee), Matt Flynn (LSU) or Chad Henne (Michigan) to be added to the Senior Bowl.

• Hawaii wide receivers Jason Rivers and C.J. Hawthorne as well as offensive lineman Hercules Satele have accepted invitations to the Hula Bowl.

• Kentucky wide receiver Stevie Johnson has accepted an invitation to the Hula Bowl.

• Marshall quarterback/wide receiver Bernard Morris and center Doug Legursky have accepted invitations to the Hula Bowl.

SMALL-SCHOOL PATROL

• Bethune-Cookman senior linebacker Ronnie McCullough had a team-leading 12 tackles as the Wildcats defeated Florida A&M in the Disney World Florida Classic on Saturday. He leads the nation with an average of 15 tackles per game, recording 149 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and five sacks. McCullough won MEAC defensive player of the week four times and will try to add to his accolades later this week when he takes part in the 8th annual East Coast Bowl in Petersburg, Va., on Nov. 24.

• Georgia Southern senior quarterback/wide receiver/returnman Jayson Foster is unlikely to remain under center following this season, but he will play professionally in an all-purpose capacity. Three weeks ago against Wofford, he rushed for 279 yards on 28 carries, including touchdowns of 72 and 82 yards. At 5-9, 168 pounds, he is not your normal pocket passer. Foster has rare agility, vision and burst in the open field that is on par with any starting skill position player on USC, Florida or LSU.

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