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Draft King Analysis

September 2, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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UCLA's upset win over Tennessee last night in Los Angeles was noteworthy for a number of reasons, not the least of which was third-string Bruin QB Kevin Craft rallying from throwing four interceptions in the first half to lead UCLA to victory in overtime. Both teams had moments of defensive brilliance, and in particular UCLA twin LBs Korey and Kyle Bosworth (nephews of former standout Brian Bosworth) looked impressive.

Cullen Harper
Clemson is counting on Cullen Harper in 2008. (Icon SMI)
There is encouraging news for Ohio State fans today, as Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel said that star junior RB Chris "Beanie" Wells is "going to be fine". That is a rather cryptic message in some ways (for example Frank Gore and Willis McGahee ended up fine after devastating injuries as college running backs), but it sure beats an outright negative assessment of Wells' short-term future.

At the same time, Wells was not allowed to talk with reporters today, which seems at least somewhat suspicious. Moreover, Tressel said very little about the injury itself, which also raises some red flags. Of course, with USC looming in less than two weeks, allowing as little information to be made available as possible may be Ohio State's best move.

One player looking to turn things around this weekend is Clemson QB Cullen Harper. Harper is a senior, but he was just 20-of-34 for 188 yards with one INT in Clemson's humbling 34-10 loss to Alabama on Saturday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. To be fair, the Tigers wideouts had a number of drops, and Harper was running for his life on several plays. That can be attributed, in part, to the knee injury that sidelined starting right offensive guard Barry Humphries early on in the Alabama game.

Harper will have to adjust to life without Humphries in the short-term, as the redshirt junior is slated to have surgery this week. Clemson has a great rushing attack with James Davis and C.J. Spiller both in its backfield, and Harper at 6'3" 220 pounds is a strong leader for the Tigers. And the schedule is rather easy for the next few weeks, with Clemson playing home games against The Citadel (a I-AA/FCS team), North Carolina State (who was blanked by South Carolina in week one), and then another I-AA/FCS team in the form of South Carolina State.

Right now Harper still looks like a day one pick, albeit one more likely to happen in round two as opposed to the first round. But there is still a long way to go between now and the NFL Draft in April 2009, and Harper will certainly be looking to improve his stock (as well as his team's standing) in that timespan.

Korey Bosworth and Kyle Bosworth
Korey Bosworth (#55) and Kyle Bosworth (#54) are both talented defenders. (Icon SMI)

The NFL season begins this Thursday, which is cause for excitement, but not to be overlooked is the SEC battle between Vanderbilt and South Carolina, which will be broadcast to a national audience on ESPN. Both teams are 1-0, though South Carolina is the favorite for the game, which takes place just down the road from me in Nashville.

Vandy's offense has a tall order in facing a stout South Carolina defense that shut out North Carolina State last week. But by the same token, South Carolina QB Chris Smelley (who regained the starting job last week) was under center last year when the Commodores beat the Gamecocks in Columbia, 17-6.

One interesting change about South Carolina was the addition of defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson. He held the same position at Mississippi State last year before bolting for Arkansas. Interestingly, Johnson was at Arkansas just long enough to spill the beans about Darren McFadden and Felix Jones' plans to declare early for the 2008 NFL Draft before abruptly leaving Arkansas to go to South Carolina.

On the Vanderbilt side, it will be interesting to see how much (if at all) South Carolina goes after junior CB D.J. Moore. Moore and redshirt senior SS Reshard Langford are the cornerstones of the Vandy secondary, and last year Moore made two interceptions against South Carolina. At 5'10" 185 pounds, Moore is not very big, but his 4.45 speed has helped to earn him the attention of many draft scouts.


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