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  10/23/20 - C Blake JeresatySr/2021, Illinois, 6-1, 295 (DS#30 C) + More +

  Illinois has made strides up front in recent years and returns four starters (center Doug Kramer, left guard Kendrick Green and tackles Vederian Lowe and Alex Palczewski) with a combined 124 career starts. The Illini brought in Wofford transfer Blake Jeresaty, an FCS All-American at center, to play right guard, but he had season-ending shoulder surgery, leaving the job to former four-star recruit Verdis Brown. The main goal will be opening up a running game that averaged 3.8 yards per carry last season. - Herald-Review

(DS#30 C) Sr/2021 C Blake JeresatyIllinois
News Source: Herald-Review
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  10/23/20 - RB Brenden KnoxrJr/2022, Marshall, 5-11, 223 (DS#10 RB) + More +

  FAU (1-0) knows from firsthand experience how dangerous Brenden Knox can be. In the Owls' lone conference loss last year, Marshall's redshirt junior running back ran for a career-high 220 yards and two touchdowns on 23 attempts. And that performance wasn't an aberration. Knox received first-team All-Conference USA recognition for the 2019 season after recording 1,387 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 270 attempts (5.1 yards per attempt). He already has seven rushing touchdowns (tied for third-best in the nation) in addition to 455 yards on the ground on 93 attempts (4.9 yards per attempts) this season entering FAU's matchup with Marshall (4-0, 2-0) on Saturday in Huntington, W.Va. "He's as good of a back we'll see this year," FAU defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt said about Knox. "He's got great vision, balance and explosion. He's one of the better backs I've seen in a long time. And then you got the big offensive line - they're big, strong and [Knox] finds those creases. It's a challenge." With Marshall's offense being built around its rushing attack, the Owls have emphasized the importance of tackling to slow down Knox, who easily breaks through tackles with his 6-foot, 223-pound frame. "You're not going to have arm-tackles bring [Knox] down," Leavitt said. "He's just too big, strong and explosive. You're going to have to get a number of people to him and keep him from hitting creases. He gets through them so fast. You're going to have to wrap him up." - Sun-Sentinel

(DS#10 RB) rJr/2022 RB Brenden KnoxMarshall
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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  10/23/20 - DT Jamil BurroughsFr/2024, Alabama, 6-3, 326 (DS#999 DT) + More +

  Replacing LaBryan Ray is more than replacing Alabama's most experienced defensive linemen and its best defensive end. UA has an abundance of defensive ends, many of them having gained experience playing in Ray's absence last season. The hard part of replacing Ray is replacing his versatility. For that, UA turned to a freshman. Before missing the Georgia game with a sprained elbow, Ray had shown the ability and willingness to play both defensive end and nose guard, playing the latter to provide UA rotation behind DJ Dale. Freshman Jamil Burroughs was UA's choice; he had not played at all in the first three games, but saw snaps as early as the second quarter in the win over Georgia.

His role could continue into Saturday's game at Tennessee, with Ray's status uncertain. "He was doing a great job on the scout team, they were having a tough time blocking him over there," UA coach Nick Saban said. "So we said, 'Who's next man up?' We're going to try to continue to work him in, and hopefully he can continue to make progress." Now, Burroughs tries to find a place in a pecking order that remains uncertain. Dale remains the starter while Barmore develops as a nose guard and Mathis rotates between the two positions; if Burroughs proves to be a valuable addition to the rotation, that could enable Mathis (and to a lesser extent Barmore) to spend more time at defensive end. - Montgomery Advertiser


(DS#999 DT) Fr/2024 DT Jamil BurroughsAlabama
News Source: Montgomery Advertiser
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  10/23/20 - RB Rakeem BoydSr/2021, Arkansas, 6-0, 206 (DS#7 RB) + More +

  These next two weeks the Razorbacks owe it to Rakeem Boyd and he owes it to himself to return to Arkansas' premier running back. Whether rest healing his injuries or practices polishing his game, or doses of both, this bye week and next week's game week appear pivotal for Boyd before Arkansas next plays Oct. 31 at Texas A&M. The senior running back can run remarkably. He was terrific for horrific 2-10 teams in 2018 and 2019. Arriving as a sophomore junior college transfer just as the 2018 preseason began, Boyd opened behind in the playbook. He finished the team's leading rusher with 729 yards on 118 carries. Last year Boyd led and netted 1,133 rushing yards with eight touchdowns on 184 carries. Boyd could have turned pro and been junior drafted. New Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman marveled watching Boyd's 2019 game film. "He can run over you, he can run around you and he can run by you," Pittman said. And run to riches in the 2021 draft off what Pittman accurately foresaw would be Razorbacks improved. "I believe that with another year he can certainly raise his value in the NFL," Pittman said during the summer. "And I believe he believes that as well." - Northwest Arkansas Times

(DS#7 RB) Sr/2021 RB Rakeem BoydArkansas
News Source: Northwest Arkansas Times
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  10/23/20 - ILB K.J. BrittSr/2021, Auburn, 6-0, 243 (DS#3 ILB) + More +

  How do you make up for a loss like K.J. Britt? Auburn coach Gus Malzahn didn't have an answer for that. "That's a tough blow," Malzahn said. Luckily, that's a question Auburn won't have to deal with the whole season. Malzahn announced Tuesday that he expects Britt to return before the end of the year. Heading into the season, Britt was named a first-team All-SEC player, an honor he was also given at the end of the 2019 season. He was one of two Auburn Tigers named to the first team. Just before the season began, he was given another title: team captain. "He's not only just a great player, but he's a great leader," Malzahn said. When Britt hit the field in the season opener, he led the defense with 11 tackles. He also led the defense as he directed players from the middle of the field. Britt continued that performance in the next game against Georgia, making 12 tackles, the third most on the team. He did so despite having to leave the game multiple times because of what he called some "nicks and bruises." Linebacker Owen Pappoe said after the game that Britt's fighting spirit and "heart" made an impact on the rest of the team. - Birmingham News

(DS#3 ILB) Sr/2021 ILB K.J. BrittAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  10/23/20 - ILB Leo ChenalSo/2023, Wisconsin, 6-1, 250 (DS#19 ILB) + More +

  Looking the part has never been an issue for Leo Chenal. At 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, the sophomore inside linebacker for the University of Wisconsin football team is physically ready to assume a bigger role in the No. 14 Badgers defense. Ask his teammates and coaches, and the physical tools Chenal possesses are quick to come up. This summer while the Badgers were away from campus due to COVID-19, Chenal made waves with videos he posted on social media of him bench pressing. One video showed Chenal, who's set to make his first career start Friday when UW hosts Illinois, benching 225 pounds 40 times, and another showed him completing 18 reps at 315 pounds. For reference, at the 2020 NFL scouting combine, the highest number of bench reps of 225 pounds was 44 by offensive lineman Netane Muti; no linebacker completed more than 30 reps. "That man is crazy," senior safety Eric Burrell said of Chenal. 'He's one of the strongest guys we have on this team. He gives 110 percent every play, every play. You can look at him like, 'Golly, this dude's still going.' He's taking over (Chris Orr's) job, I think he's doing a hell of a job. I'm excited for what he has to bring this year, his first start. I think we're all excited for his opportunity and I think he'll be ready for it." - Wisconsin State Journal

(DS#19 ILB) So/2023 ILB Leo ChenalWisconsin
News Source: Wisconsin State Journal
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  10/23/20 - TE Jake FergusonrJr/2022, Wisconsin, 6-4, 246 (DS#5 TE) + More +

  The Badgers have one of the conference's top tight ends returning in Jake Ferguson, but not much is known about the players behind him. Injuries ravaged the tight end room last season, to the point UW coaches moved Cormac Sampson from the offense line back to tight end. Ferguson played the second-most snaps on the team offensively, but his production as a receiver slipped at times. Playing less and being more rested may help him make more of an impact in the passing game, which means another tight end must take on more responsibility. Hayden Rucci, Gabe Lloyd and freshman Cam Large are all candidates for reps behind Ferguson, and with how often the Badgers employ two-tight-end sets, the No. 2 tight end role is an important one. - Wisconsin State Journal

(DS#5 TE) rJr/2022 TE Jake FergusonWisconsin
News Source: Wisconsin State Journal
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  10/23/20 - DT Cavon ButlerrFr/2024, Toledo, 6-2, 300 (DS#999 DT) + More +

  New University of Toledo co-defensive coordinator Craig Kuligowski has developed a reputation as one of the top hand-fighting defensive line coaches in the nation. That's backed up by the number of NFL draft picks he has coached. Twenty-four of his former players have gone on to become draft picks, including six first-rounders: Quinnen Williams, Aldon Smith, Sheldon Richardson, Charles Harris, Shane Ray, and Ziggy Hood. Half of those draft picks (including all of the first rounders except Williams, who went to Alabama) came from Missouri, while eight came from Miami and four from Alabama. For Kuligowski, there are two main characteristics of players he has coached who have gone on to play in the NFL - and those characteristics he sees with some of the players on Toledo's roster now.

"The No. 1 thing that you have to be to play in the NFL is you have to have a desire to be great, and not everybody has that," he said. "It's a lot easier to say that everybody wants to be great, but not everybody wants to do what it takes to be great and do the extra things. I have a lot of examples of guys I coached that played with a chip on their shoulder, they were trying to prove something to themselves or to their family, or to their friends, or to me that they could perform at a high level. And I see that in some of our players, that desire to be great. "And then the second thing is you have to have the talent to play there. If you're a guy like Aldon Smith who's got all the talent in the world, you can be a first-round draft pick. If you're a guy who doesn't have a similar talent it doesn't mean you can't play in the NFL, but that desire to be great and do what it takes, that self discipline and sacrifice really makes a difference." - Toledo Blade


(DS#999 DT) rFr/2024 DT Cavon ButlerToledo
News Source: Toledo Blade
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  Air Force will be without preseason All-American offensive guard Nolan Laufenberg on Saturday as the result of COVID-19 contact tracing, The Gazette has learned. Laufenberg has not tested positive for the coronavirus, but his exposure through an academy class to a cadet who tested positive led to the protocols that will keep him from traveling to San Jose State. "To ensure the protection of cadet athletes' medical privacy, the academy will not comment on test results," an Air Force spokesman said. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Laufenberg, a Castle Rock native, was named a preseason second-team Walter Camp All-American this past summer and is on the Outland Trophy Watch List. On Tuesday the Mountain West released a video of the top five offensive linemen in the conference, and Laufenberg occupied the top spot. - Colorado Springs Gazette

(DS#15 OG) Sr/2021 OG Nolan LaufenbergAir Force
News Source: Colorado Springs Gazette
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  Coach Clay Helton said Monday that Carr has had "his best camp to date," while Jinks was similarly effusive in his praise of the senior all-purpose back. "He looks as good as he's ever been since I've been here," Jinks said. Over the previous two seasons, Carr never quite matched the standard he set in the first month of his freshman year, when he averaged 107 total yards per game and scored three times. He's equaled that yardage just three times and added eight touchdowns in the 25 games since. But as practices turned to full pads last week, coaches say they've seen a different version of Carr, one that dances less at the line of scrimmage and welcomes more contact in between the tackles. Both Jinks and Helton said Carr "set the tone" with his physicality during the first full-contact practice. "I just want to be more physical this year," Carr said. "That's really the only thing on my mind. The college world has seen a lot of what I can do when it comes to catching the ball out of the backfield, making people miss." A healthy hamstring should help on both accounts. After that injury sapped some of Carr's trademark explosiveness last year, Jinks said the senior added five or six inches to his vertical leap this offseason. That burst isn't the only mark of his improvement. Carr said he spent the offseason studying tape of Ronald Jones II, the former Trojans back starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and still watches clips of him before some practices. Mentally, Carr said, he's never felt more prepared. - Los Angeles Times

(DS#27 RB) Sr/2021 RB Stephen CarrSouthern California
News Source: Los Angeles Times
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  Peters returns his top four receivers, a group led by Josh Imatorbhebhe. The senior accounted for nine of Illinois' 19 touchdown receptions last season and averaged a whopping 19.2 yards per reception. "We definitely have our work cut out for (us) because he's definitely not a body type that you see every day and the aggressiveness that he plays with is just a little bit different for some of the corners to see," UW defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said of Imatorbhebhe, who had a 29-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the Badgers. "I like our group, I like the matchups we have, but he's going to have opportunities one-on-one in this game and we've got to win them downfield." - Wisconsin State Journal

(DS#32 WR) rSr/2021 WR Josh ImatorbhebheIllinois
News Source: Wisconsin State Journal
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  10/23/20 - DE Mika TafuarJr/2022, Utah, 6-2, 250 (DS#35 DE) + More +

  Three will eventually become four and that would make it 100% for Utah's starting defensive line in 2019. That's what Utah coach Kyle Whittingham says about the guys who did the work up front on a defense that ranked second nationally in total defense (269.2 ypg), third in rush defense (81.8 ypg) and sixth in scoring defense (15 ppg) last season. Seniors Bradlee Anae, Leki Fotu and John Penisini went on to be drafted by the NFL. Fotu went to the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth round; Anae was taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth; and the Detroit Lions picked Penisini in the sixth. Eventually, Whittingham predicts, the fourth starter on that line will join them. Defensive end Mika Tafua, who is back with the Utes, is progressing in that direction. He was tied for second in the nation with four fumble recoveries as a sophomore. Now he's a veteran, joining linebacker Devin Lloyd as the only returning starters for the Utah defense.

"He is an NFL guy in my opinion," Whittingham said. "He is just a junior, but he has what it takes to play at the next level." Tafua, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound force from Laie, Hawaii, earned honorable mention all-conference honors from the Pac-12 after making 47 tackles (8.5 for loss with three sacks) on a Utah team that repeated as South Division champions. He has played in 25 games during the past two seasons - doing so after joining the Utes and redshirting following a two-year church mission to Tacoma, Washington. Tafua originally signed with BYU. "He is a great leader for us. He was voted captain, so that is what his peers think of him and how much respect he has from them," said Whittingham, who added that Tafua has been a tremendous player since arriving at Utah. "Right now, he is the leader of that defensive line." - Deseret News


(DS#35 DE) rJr/2022 DE Mika TafuaUtah
News Source: Deseret News
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  10/23/20 - RB Journey BrownrJr/2022, Penn State, 5-11, 215 (DS#2 RB) + More +

  Less than a month ago, Penn State standout running back Journey Brown was all smiles on a Zoom conference call with reporters during the Nittany Lions' virtual media days. The redshirt junior spoke about his new role as a leader for the team's running backs room and his goals to make even greater strides this season after finishing with 890 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last year. But since then, a lot has changed. Penn State confirmed Monday night that Brown could potentially miss the 2020 season due to an undisclosed medical condition discovered this offseason. Still, Brown's presence - even if it won't be felt on the field - will be an important part of the Penn State locker room this fall. "His leadership on our team is significant," head coach James Franklin said Tuesday. "His leadership on our team is needed. His energy, he's been phenomenal...We're not losing Journey the man. Journey the man is going to be with us and will always be. We're fortunate because that's the thing that's most important to me - who he is and what he represents for our program." In his three years at Penn State, Brown has been known to have a goofy personality and make his teammates laugh with jokes and pranks. Junior linebacker Jesse Luketa mentioned that none of that has changed. "If you know Journey, you know he's just such a vibrant person," Luketa said. "His energy is infectious. He hasn't lost that at all." - Centre Times

(DS#2 RB) rJr/2022 RB Journey BrownPenn State
News Source: Centre Times
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  10/23/20 - DE Ronnie PerkinsJr/2022, Oklahoma, 6-3, 247 (DS#7 DE) + More +

  Lincoln Riley offered no update on the status of suspended players Trejan Bridges, Rhamondre Stevenson and Ronnie Perkins when asked on the Big 12 teleconference if Riley expected the trio back for Saturday's game at TCU. "That process is still ongoing," the OU football coach said. "It's yet to be determined." That's virtually the same answer Riley has given any time he's been asked about the players since they were suspended before last season's Peach Bowl after failing an NCAA drug test. Sources have said all three tested positive for marijuana.

The NCAA mandates a half-season suspension for a first-time offense. That would keep them out through Saturday's game, returning for the Oct. 31 game at Texas Tech. There was some hope that the NCAA would reduce the suspensions due to the shortened schedule this season, but that seems unlikely. Perkins' situation is more unclear than the other two. Perkins was granted an appeal earlier this month but steps needed to be completed before he could regain eligibility and were not. The defensive end traveled with the Sooners to face Iowa State on Oct. 3 but did not play in the immediate wake of the ruling and then did not travel for the game against Texas. - Daily Oklahoman


(DS#7 DE) Jr/2022 DE Ronnie PerkinsOklahoma
News Source: Daily Oklahoman
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  10/23/20 - CB Trent McDuffieSo/2023, Washington, 5-11, 192 (DS#8 CB) + More +

  Trent McDuffie does not fit the mold. Kevin King is the mold. Sidney Jones is the mold. Keith Taylor, Dominique Hampton, Asa Turner, Jacobe Covington, Julius Irvin, Makell Esteen, Elijah Jackson: they are the mold. UW head coach Jimmy Lake even acknowledged it last week, saying "you see the DBs. We always like long guys, bigger guys." McDuffie is not one of those guys. And yet, when it's all said and done, he may be the guy in the Huskies' secondary. The statistics say the same. In a phenomenal freshman season, McDuffie - all 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds of him - started the last 11 games and totaled 45 tackles, three passes defended, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and an interception. He was also credited with just one missed tackle and surrendered a measly six passes of 15-plus yards on 421 coverage snaps.

The former St. John Bosco High School standout was ranked as the 12th-most valuable corner in all of FBS as a true freshman. And it's not because he has long arms or a physically formidable frame. It's because of everything else. "I think I'm just technique-sound," McDuffie said on Sunday. "Every day I work on it like it's a religion out there - making sure my footwork, my technique, my eyes are all as good as they can be. I'm a big perfectionist, so I'm always making sure everything is correct. "And I'm a big track guy from high school, so I like to use my speed a lot when I'm out there. It's my extra hand when I'm out there, so I'm able to make plays on the ball." - Seattle Times


(DS#8 CB) So/2023 CB Trent McDuffieWashington
News Source: Seattle Times
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