Week 2 of the college football season kicks off on Friday night. The Big 12 conference has several matchups, allowing its top prospects to shine nationally. We know that Texas is looking to upset Alabama, but there are prospects throughout the Big 12 with an opportunity to rise the 2024 NFL Draft boards.
We’re highlighting seven players in this CFB Week 2 Big 12 preview. Each player is already on the PFN Scouting Team’s radar and has room to improve their outlook.
Pac-12 Players To Watch in Week 2
Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado
It should be no surprise to see Shedeur Sanders atop our top Pac-12 players to watch in Week 2.
The Colorado quarterback lit the world on fire last week, bringing devastation to a TCU defense in the national title game last year. Sanders’ play certainly got the scouting community buzzing.
With him showing off an upside that is as good as any prospect single game we’ve seen over the last several years, Sanders needs to show a level of consistency that isn’t on par with that performance but is still at a high level. If he can do so, expect to see Sanders launch his draft draft stock into the first round.
Facing Nebraska this week isn’t the most difficult challenge, but playing well after a career game on a big stage is challenging in itself. Sanders has all of the physical talent needed to become an excellent quarterback at the next level.
We will be watching closely to see how Sanders responds to the pressure and a new week of a motivated opponent.
Bo Nix, QB, Oregon
The Oregon Ducks were certainly not in a position of worry last week. With their 81 to 7 and drubbing of Portland State, it was a dress rehearsal for the Ducks. But in Week 2, things get a bit more interesting as they travel to Lubbock, Texas, to face the Red Raiders.
Oregon should certainly handle their business even as a road team. Led by a senior quarterback, Bo Nix, the Ducks have far too much playmaking to be worried about dropping this game in an upset. However, we’re still talking about college football.
Some of the spotlight will be on Tyler Shough, the Texas Tech quarterback who once started for the Ducks. But Nix is certainly the one with a brighter NFL future.
Nix will potentially rise to the top 10 of the 2024 NFL draft. He has the athleticism, a strong arm, improved mechanics, and the overall playmaking that modern NFL offenses look for. The question is whether he will keep his poise as he continues to get more responsibility put on his shoulders.
Cameron Ward, QB, Washington State
The Washington State Cougars will host the Wisconsin Badgers in a rematch of a game that wasn’t as interesting last year. But things have changed as both teams have seen improvement. Wisconsin now has quarterback Tanner Mordecai and a new coaching staff that has revitalized the program to be more offensively dynamic.
It’ll be up to Cameron Ward and the Cougars to throttle down an offense that had no issues rushing the ball last week. Ward will need to do his part in keeping his defense off the field, which includes continuing to move the chains and sustaining long drives that end in points. Ward had issues with this last year, thriving off of chaos and often inviting it as his playmaking trait took over.
Ward has a lot to show this year, but he has the talent to be a riser if he can do it. His athleticism and mobility are obvious, and his arm talent cannot be understated. Still, there are question marks about his processing ability and consistency in driving the ball more than 10 yards.
Facing Luke Fickell and the Badgers will be a tough test. Fickell will throw everything at Ward to confuse him and derail an offense with enough playmaking to win this game. If Ward plays well, we’ll start to see his name pop as a D3 guy who can rise into the Day 2 mix.
Jacob Cowing, WR, Arizona
Not many people are watching the Arizona Wildcats this fall, but I would implore them to tune in to an offense with one of the most fun-receiving threats in the nation.
Jacob Cowing doesn’t have the elite size that the NFL may like, but he sure has the quickness to create separation and put a big strain on defenses. More notoriety went to former teammate Dorian Singer, who transferred to USC earlier this year, than it did to Cowing.
I think that’s a mistake. Cowing has great speed in the open field and can create after the catch to help his quarterback shoulder less of a burden of the offense. With sure hands, body control, and effortless quickness, Cowing will be someone to keep tabs on in each team tough for matchups this year.
Cowing should be a mid-round prospect at worst. He may become a great value if teams truly underrate his capabilities because of his size. Look for him to have a solid showing against a talented and fast Mississippi State defense that will put a ton of pressure on this offense not to make mistakes.
Jeremiah Hunter, WR, Cal
In case you missed it last week, the California Bears hung 58 points in their season debut. This was a shocker, considering how much this often struggled last season. But the reality is that with new quarterback Ben Finley, the Bears have some explosive talent to build around.
The star of the unit is running back Jayden Ott. But he’s only a sophomore, so we’re looking at the team’s top wide receiver, Jeremiah Hunter. Hunter is an explosive 6’2″, 200-pound receiver in his junior season.
Hunter caught six passes for 64 yards in a touchdown last week, showing off his patented speed, body control, and strong hands that have him on the radar as a 2024 prospect. Facing Auburn this week will be a big step up in competition.
Hunter averaged almost 17 yards a catch entering 2023. He’s a big play threat who stretches the field vertically for an office struggling to push the ball down the field. Maybe that will change in 2023, opening up possibilities for Hunter to become a major factor in the final receiving rankings for the draft.
Ja’Quinden Jackson, RB, Utah
Our final Pac-12 star in the spotlight is third-year sophomore running back Ja’Quinden Jackson.
The Utah rusher managed only five carries for 15 yards as he took a backseat in the team’s Week 1 win against Florida. I expected Jackson to become a star this year after producing almost 7 yards per carry and nine touchdowns in 2022.
However, that did not happen in their first game. Instead, the Utes distributed 30 carries across a handful of players instead of having one star back. That’s bad news for Jackson, a terrific athlete at 6’2″ and 228 pounds.
Facing Baylor this week, Utah will hopefully get Jackson more involved as the offense’s focal point. If they don’t, Jackson’s window on the 2024 NFL Draft class could be closing quickly.
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