Also, a prominent running back lands on the injury report again, a wide receiver to note for a future draft class, and FCS Watch ...
RYPIEN LETS IT RIP: The quality quarterback play across the nation extends to some under-the-radar prospects. One of the more notable signal-callers to keep an eye on is Boise State senior Brett Rypien (6-2, 208, 4.86, #4), the nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien.
The Broncos are off to a 3-1 start and appear poised to repeat as Mountain West Conference champs, thanks in part to Rypien, who has the Broncos' West Coast offense humming and is completing passes at a clip of 70.1 percent, along with 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has passed for 11,262 career yards and is the NCAA active leader in that area.
Rypien, a notorious film room junkie known for his detailed preparation, has showed a highly improved deep ball in 2018, to complement his precise accuracy in the short-to-intermediate passing attack.
The four-year starter doesn't possess the elite arm strength or prototypical size worthy of deeming him a top-round selection, but Rypien is viewed as a draft pick with the maturity to make a quick transition to the NFL game.
A LOVE LOSS AFFAIR: One of the most exciting playmakers in college football, Stanford running back Bryce Love (5-9, 196, 4.36, #20) has been a regular on the injury report this season. The latest blow came during the Cardinal's loss to Notre Dame last week, as Love exited with a left ankle injury, the same infamous ankle that plagued him throughout his 2017 campaign.
Suddenly, the one-time Heisman favorite has become a huge question mark in the durability department. He already sat out one game against UC Davis earlier this season and was lifted late in the USC game due to an undisclosed injury.
Love's decision to pass up the NFL Draft, where he was projected to be a top pick, in favor to return to school for his senior season has been a well documented story.
A look at the 2018 draft class shows that the decision could prove costly in term of pay scale, as running back Sony Michel (Patriots), who was selected No. 31 overall, signed for $9.6 million, including a $5 million signing bonus, while Royce Freeman (Broncos), who was picked No. 71 overall, signed for $3.9 million with a $997 thousand signing bonus -- that's quite a significant hit to the pockets.
We're still six months away from finding out how it all plays out and how much money he may have lost, but the main question that NFL teams will want to know now is, how's the ankle doing?
TILLERY ARTILERY: Arguably the most impressive performance of the week comes via Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (6-5, 306, 5.32, #99), who was downright dominating and unblockable during his four-sack performance in the win over Stanford.
The senior returned to South Bend for his final year in hopes of honing his skill-set and development, in addition to addressing questions about his love for the game. Tillery is known to be a bit of a renaissance man, with various interests and worldly travels, creating some doubt about his passion for football among talent evaluators.
The coaching staff has since put him in a tremendous position to succeed at the three-technique, after playing nose tackle during his first three seasons. He has responded by accounting for half of the team's sack total (six), while providing a steady force on the defensive front for the No. 6-ranked Fighting Irish.
With his ability to rush the passer, Tillery is a mismatch one-on-one on the interior, which makes him a valuable commodity at the next level. He's currently on the outside looking in, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Tillery creep into the latter end of the first round if his stout play keeps up.
FUTURE WATCH: Colorado sophomore sensation Laviska Shenault (pronounced lu-visk-uh shuh-nault) (6-1, 205, 4.40, #2) has been one of the most surprising breakout stars in 2018, scoring in every game thus far and upping his touchdown total to six on the season, along with 609 all-purpose yards through four games.
Listed as a wide receiver, he has been used as a versatile weapon for the Buffaloes as a halfback, tight end/H-back, lined up in the Wildcat or even being used on jet sweeps ... and, oh by the way, he can beat you deep too.
An explosive playmaker with sticky mitts, it seems there's not much that Shenault can't do. He possesses inane athleticism and the makeup of a future first-round pick; make sure you remember the name!
FCS WATCH: A projected mid-round draft prospect, Northern Arizona senior wideout Emmanuel Butler (6-3, 220, 4.62, #8) has been heating up the desert. The fifth-year senior used a medical redshirt after a right shoulder injury ended his 2017 campaign in the second game.
The long strider and glider has returned with a vengeance in 2018, proving to be a big target with a huge catch radius and very strong, dependable hands. We saw those traits on display this past week, as Butler hauled in eight catches for 147 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown grab in a shootout loss to Idaho State.
Overall, Butler shows great concentration, along with the ability to adjust to the football and come away with the ball in traffic. The team captain has been a student of the game, learning all the receiver positions, while lining up at X, Y and Z spots for the Lumberjacks. It's no surprise that he's on pace to finish as the school's all-time leading receiver
ETC.: Washington senior quarterback Jake Browning(6-1, 210, 4.78, #3) had an efficient 23-of-25 performance against BYU and has drawn the attention of Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy on his Twitter account. ... Notre Dame senior offensive lineman Alex Bars (6-5, 312, 5.27, #71) suffered a season-ending knee injury that has affected both his ACL and MCL. ... Louisiana Tech senior defensive end Jaylon Ferguson (6-4, 269, 4.84, #45), a mid-round prospect, collected four sacks against North Texas, boosting his career total to 33.5. ... The Arizona Cardinals remain the only winless team in the NFL and currently hold the No. 1 pick for the 2019 draft.
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