The college football season is upon us, which means it is the beginning of another cycle of scouting and evaluation of prospects for next year's NFL Draft.
Let's take a look at some of the best players in this year's class who will be active on Week 1.
Highly rated LSU takes multiple top prospects into their battle with Mississippi State as senior defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, a possible Top-20 choice, leads a front seven that also features senior linebacker Ali Highsmith.
Senior Early Doucet has taken over the No. 1 receiver spot that was vacated by Dwayne Bowe, while senior running back/fullback Jacob Hester will start the year as the primary ball carrier. Sophomore Keiland Williams should see a lot of carries as well.
Senior quarterback Matt Flynn gets his turn at being the full-time starter and has looked very sharp in both spring and fall drills. Keep an eye on Mississippi State junior defensive back Derek Pegues, junior college defensive tackle Jessie Bowman and sophomore running back Anthony Dixon.
Tennessee plays at California on Saturday night. While most have focused their attention on Golden Bears junior wide receiver/return man DeSean Jackson, the play of junior quarterback Nate Longshore could be the difference-maker in this year's contest. Last year, the Vols dominated, 35-18. Junior defensive end Rulon Davis and senior safety Thomas DeCloud will have to be big-play defenders for the Bears to move up into contention for a BCS bowl game.
Auburn senior defensive end Quentin Groves (6-foot-4, 254 pounds) is seen as a future first-round pick after running 4.5 range 40-times this past spring. He could record two or three sacks against Kansas State if the Wildcats are unable to block him 1-on-1. Big things are forecast for Groves, who wisely decided to come back for his final year of eligibility.
Oklahoma State has a handful of senior prospects who could lead them to a huge upset road win over Georgia. Senior Bobby Reid, the Big-12's most versatile QB, senior wide receiver Adarius Bowman and senior running back Dantrell Savage give the Cowboys' offense firepower.
Oklahoma State's front seven will need to come up with several big plays and pressure Bulldogs sophomore quarterback Matt Stafford into making some bad throws. Senior defensive ends Maurice Fountain and Nathan Peterson combined for 12.5 sacks a year ago and senior Donovan Woods, a former quarterback, has made the full transition to defense as he moves up from safety to linebacker.
Nebraska senior quarterback Sam Keller gets his first start Saturday against Nevada. He should be provided ample time in the pocket to get comfortable. Keller has all the tools to become a "Day One" draft pick next year. He will have to shake off some rust from sitting out last year after transferring from Arizona State. Early reports are that he has looked very sharp. He has a potential favorite target in senior wide receiver Maurice Purify, a fellow Californian who gained 630 yards and seven touchdowns on just 34 catches as a junior.
New Mexico State junior quarterback Chase Holbrook is preparing to play host to the school where his college career started, SE Louisiana. Both he and coach Hal Mumme face the program they were once a part of. Holbrook might not be a Heisman contender, but his stats could rival those of Hawaii's Colt Brennan by season's end. He will have a chance to pass for over 500 yards and five touchdowns this week and keep an eye on his efforts this season. He had three games with over 500 yards passing a year ago.
SMALL SCHOOL PATROL
Carson-Newman senior wide receiver James Banks, a former starting quarterback and wide receiver at the University of Tennessee, kicked off his senior campaign last week by scoring a 47-yard touchdown in a win over Virginia State. At 6-3, 215 pounds, he has the size and speed scouts notice.
Running back Alley Broussard, who was a starter two years ago at LSU before injuring his knee, has transferred to Missouri Southern State. This will be his only year of eligibility so there is still a chance that he can impress scouts with his size/speed/power if he can put it all together at the Division II level.
Former Arizona running back Cornell Canidate, the younger brother of former NFL running back Trung Canidate, has found a new home at Division III Humboldt State in California. Canidate rushed for 120 yards on 16 carries, including a 45-yard run in his first action in nearly two years.