CFB News of the Week: 5/28/2021

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Washington State QB Jayden de Laura reinstated by team

Washington State was looking at having some QB trouble this offseason. Jayden de Laura, the team’s leading passer as a freshman in 2020, was arrested on a DUI charge shortly after the season ended. De Laura was suspended for his actions, but with the season now looming, HC Nick Rolovich has decided to reinstate the incumbent starting QB.

Now, it’s unclear if de Laura will hold the starting position again anyway. It’s more likely Rolovich wants to make sure he is getting a clear look at the QB competition. De Laura did start last season for Washington State, but the school brought in Jarrett Guarantano, who was the starter for Tennessee for most of the last three years. Guarantano never did much to establish himself as any kind of star, but perhaps a fresh start in Rolovich’s system could reignite his fire.

Either way, de Laura is officially back with the team and in the mix to be the starting QB again. De Laura completed 60.5% of his passes last year for 6.9 yards per attempt, five touchdowns, and four picks.

Virginia get first four-star WR since 2012 in Dakota Twitty

Cavaliers HC Bronco Mendenhall may have just picked up one of the most important recruits of his era with the school. Four-star 2022 WR Dakota Twitty is the school’s first four-star WR since 2012, as well as the first (and only) four -star of the school’s 2022 class right now.

Twitty is a huge wide receiver. At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Twitty is almost built more like a tight end who needs a few more steaks than a legit wide receiver. As one might expect of a receiver his size, Twitty is not the shiftiest or smoothest player around, but he does exceptionally well to work the sideline vertically. Twitty’s got just enough speed to threaten deep, as well as the ball skills to play the ball in the air, including back shoulder balls. With the ball in his hand, Twitty is not going to burn anyone necessarily, but he’s built like a tree and has some powerful strides, so bringing him down is no walk in the park.

It would not be too shocking to see Twitty end up contributing in his first year on campus. His size and length alone make him a good candidate for red zone work, even if the rest of the game will not be refined yet. Twitty can be a role player for a year or two before blossoming into a legit X receiver, which is a pretty reasonable development arc for a four-star.

Texas still undecided on starting QB

Replacing a long-time starting such as Sam Ehlinger is never an easy task. Doing so with a new HC who is largely unfamiliar with the QB room makes things even tougher. Unfortunately, that is the situation Steve Sarkisian finds himself in this offseason.

And so far, Sarkisian has not made any sort of ruling on who the new QB will be. Sarkisian made it clear to the media that 15 spring practices is not nearly enough to decide who he wants to roll with and that he is going to need to see more reps when the fall comes around. That said, it seems pretty clear which two QBs Sarkisian is down to.

Sophomore Casey Thompson, who saw some playing time last year, is one of the two. Thompson is a former four-star recruit with a booming arm and some intriguing athletic ability. Thompson played the second-half against Colorado late last season, finishing the game with four touchdowns on just 10 touchdowns. The stat sheet there is impressive by itself, but Thompson was really able to show off the arm talent that could make him worthwhile, including one sick throw on a corner route after having to dance around in the pocket.

Freshman Hudson Card is also in the mix. A borderline five-star recruit in 2020, Card is a bit less experienced than Thompson, but all the tools are there. Card is a smooth mover, which makes sense seeing as he played wide receiver early in his high school career. Though his arm is nothing special, Card is an accurate thrower to all levels of the field, even while on the move.

Troy WR Kaylon Geiger on the open market

Kaylon Geiger’s upward trajectory as a player is inspiring. Out of high school, Geiger was not a coveted recruit at all and ultimately landed at the JUCO level to start his career. Geiger worked his way through the JUCO system and caught the attention of Troy as a transfer in 2019.

In his two seasons with Troy, Geiger was lights out. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound receiver did not let his tiny frame get in the way of him producing at an outrageous clip. Geiger caught 141 passes for 1,625 yards over his two seasons, by far making himself the team’s best and most productive wide receiver. Granted, Geiger only secured eight touchdowns, but that’s more a product of Troy’s offense in general than him being incapable of being a big scorer.

Geiger is a menace in the short-to-intermediate area. He can beat you deep, but the bulk of his work is done with the ball in his hands, so the sooner an offense can make that happen the better. Geiger has desirable stop-start explosiveness and is the type to squeeze out a couple extra yards on every touch with a slick move. Of course, he is not going to run through anyone at his size or break many tackles, but his explosiveness and agility are usually enough to make at least the first man miss on a given play.

It’s unclear where Geiger plans to take his career, but the assumption is he will be moving up to a Power Five school. He certainly has that kind of ability, assuming he does not need to be a team’s No.1 option. Geiger could also move up to one of the stronger G5 schools, such as Cincinnati, UCF, or Coastal Carolina.

Former LSU QB TJ Finley transfers to Auburn

LSU’s QB situation was a bit turbulent last season, as three players threw over 100 passes. Finley was one of those three quarterbacks, and perhaps the most volatile of the bunch. A freshman who was a three-star recruit in high school, Finley certainly looked to be playing above what should be expected of a player in his position, but he clearly did not look quite ready yet.

At 6-foot-6, 250-pounds, Finley is built like an absolute tank for the position. Likewise, he sports a booming arm that allows him to fit any throwing window on the field, so long as he can actually place the ball well. Finley’s arm strength makes him a dangerous deep passer, which should be his defining trait once he really settles into being a starting caliber QB in a year or two. Finley’s down-to-down accuracy could use some fine tuning, but he’s got the right arm talent and mentality to be a difference maker.

What’s intriguing about Finley is that it’s not entirely out of the question that he pushes Bo Nix in his first year on campus. Yes, Nix has been starting for two seasons, but anyone who has watched any Auburn game over that span can tell you that Nix is not doing anything to make that offense better. Nix struggled to clear even seven yards per attempt in either 2019 or 2020 despite a handful of NFL pass-catchers at his side. Granted, Finley did not clear seven yards per attempt in 2020 either, but that only puts him on a comparable level to Nix, not outright lower.

Nix has the advantage of being incumbent, but Finley is far more talented. Finley is bigger, has a stronger arm, and offers some short-yardage rushing value thanks to his massive frame. Nix is more like a parody of a parody of Shea Patterson. If nothing else, Nix should feel some heat, even if he ultimately wins out the job again.