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2005 NFL RB Draft Class
Stock Watch through Week 10
11/4/04

Rising

Cedric Benson, Texas (4SR) - Continues to roll and seems to reach another milestone each week as his tremendous career winds down. Posted 38/168/1 in a blowout over Texas Tech on 10/23. During the game, he became the sixth player in NCAA Division I history to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons, joining Ron Dayne, Tony Dorsett, Avon Cobourne, Denvis Manns, and Amos Lawrence. Last week in a big win at Colorado, he reached another milestone, becoming only the tenth player in Division I-A history to rush for 5,000 career yards. He finished with 32/141/2 as the Longhorns improved to 22-0 in his career when he rushes for 100 yards. Scouts will like that he demonstrated some mental toughness and resiliency in bouncing back from a devastating loss to Oklahoma by not letting it derail his season. Benson leads the D-IA in total rushing yards with 1,297, while he is second in rushing with 162.13 ypg. The inconsistency in the passing game and struggles of QB Vince Young make his accomplishments more impressive, consistently having to face stacked fronts while teams will let the passing game try to beat them, he gets almost 6 ypc while toting the rock an average of 27.4 times a game.

Carnell Williams, Auburn (4SR) - Against the worst defense in the conference, Williams finally had his first 100-yard game of the season. He posted 17/149/2 in a destruction of Kentucky on 10/23. It was his 14th career 100-yard game. A week later, he was again close, but ended with 96 yards on 16 carries and a TD in beating Ole Miss at Oxford. The victory pushed the team to 9-0 and earned a spot in the SEC Championship game. Williams and 5SR Ronnie Brown split carries evenly, posting nearly identical rushing stats. Williams also added value in a variety of other ways, including some huge plays late in the game to seal the victory. With just a 7-0 lead coming out of halftime, Williams took a 58-yard pass to the Mississippi 2 yard-line, which Brown ran in for a TD on the next play. After the Rebels pulled within 7 early in the 4th quarter, Williams returned a punt 38 yards a couple drives later, leading to a TD to put them comfortable ahead by 14. A few possessions after that, he took a hand-off 29 yards for a TD that put the game away. His 2 receptions for 70 yards and 6 punt returns for 71 yards were highs for him on the season. The versatility he displays as an all-purpose runner and the unselfishness resulting in tremendous team achievement more than compensates for the diluted stats from having to share the ball as a runner.

Ronnie Brown, Auburn (5SR) - Scored on TD runs of 12 and 17 yards, in a blowout of Kentucky on 10/23. He didn't get enough carries to notch his third-straight 100-yard day, finishing with 53 yards on 10 carries and adding 30 yards receiving. Last week he had a TD in his fifth consecutive game and posted his fourth 100-yard game in a defeat of Ole Miss at Oxford. Finished with exactly 100 yards on 16 carries he split evenly with 4SR Carnell Williams.

J.J. Arrington, California (4SR) - Continues to avoid a let down and race up draft boards. In a shut out of Arizona on 10/23, he posted 24/135/1. While the defense once again got headlines, shutting out a potent Arizona State offense and posting a goose egg in back-to-back games and on the state for the season, the offense continued to run through Arrington. He finished with 30/188/1, his school record seventh straight 100-yard game, reaching the 1,000 yards for a season faster than any RB in Cal history. For the season, his 158 ypg ranks fourth in D-IA, while his 1,106 total rushing yards are seventh. Accumulating that on 158 carries gives him an outstanding 7.00 ypc.

Cedric Houston, Tennessee (4SR) - In a narrow victory over Alabama on 10/23, 3JR Gerald Riggs struggled, finishing with 19/39/0. Houston was slightly more effective in his reserve roll, posting 30 yards on 7 carries. It ended a streak of back-to-back 100-yard games for Riggs and left the door open a bit for Houston to get some more work and possibly stop the tailspin his season is in. Last week at South Carolina, that door opened a little more, and Houston went barreling though it. Ineffectiveness by Riggs against Alabama and early against the Gamecocks last gave Houston an opening he fully exploited. Riggs started and had 3 carries for 1 yard, including being tackled for a safety giving the Gamecocks an early lead. Then Riggs suffered a hip pointer and Houston replaced him, while Riggs would sit out the second half. Houston proceeded to rush for a career-high 190 yards on 15 carries, preventing an upset by South Carolina. He demonstrated the enviable combo of power and speed on his two TDs, muscling in for a 1-yard score and breaking away with a 65-yard run for another. Depending on what underclassmen declare to change the face of this class, Houston's situation is likely to play out like that of Cedric Cobbs last year. He'll head to the Combine with baggage and questions, but an impressive performance could sneak him in late Day 1, while a bad one, like Cobbs bust on the 40, pushes him to Day 2.

Brandon Jacobs, Southern Illinois (4SR) - Broke 100 yards for the first time since the opener, finishing with 16/151/0 in a victory at Southwest Missouri State on 10/23. However, he still remained in the statistical shadow of 2SO Arkee Whitlock, who had 18/158/3. Last week he had his first statement game of the season, breaking out for 128 yards and 3 TDs on just 7 carries in a destruction of Western Illinois. This was the type of performance scouts expected more of against D-IAA competition. It was his fourth mutli-TD game of the year and his second consecutive 100-yard day. A month that began with his season reaching rock bottom, ended with a spectacular performance that has him back on the charts. As the Salukis advanced to 8-1 and remained the top ranked team in DI-AA, the additional notoriety and chance for more opportunities to display his skills if the team heads deep into the playoffs (especially during a time when D-IA is on hiatus and scouts can get a good look at him), can really help his draft value.

Noah Herron, Northwestern (5SR) - Debuts on the list this week after his third-straight 100-yard game in a tough loss at Wisconsin on 10/23. Herron was the first player to rush for 100 yards and just the second to score a rushing TD this year on the tough Badger defense. He finished with 19/109/1, his fourth 100-yard game of the season. He also had 33/113/2 and 2/12/1 in an upset of Ohio State on 10/2. The Wildcats upset another Top 25 team last Saturday when Herron took a pitch with 3 seconds left and converted it for his 10th TD to give the Wildcats a 13-10 win over Purdue. Overall he had 82 yards on 19 carries, as well as 4 receptions for 50 yards. The size and running style of the north-south power back belies his effectiveness as a receiver, a necessity for a RB in a Randy Walker offense. His 25 receptions (for 232 yards and a TD) are third on the team for the season.

Alvin Pearman, Virginia (4SR) - As often is the case, when one goes down, another can go way up. Pearman debuts on the list after a career-high 223 yards rushing at Duke on 10/23. While it was only Duke, the circumstances surrounding it and the big picture are more the reason why he's here. It appears he's displaced 3JR Wali Lundy as the starter. He was emerging in 2002 before a torn ACL ended his season and opened the door for Lundy to have a nice run. When he returned, he was tremendous as a change of pace back-up, leading all RBs in the nation with 63 receptions in 2003. He is a Mewelde Moore type of dual threat, who also adds value as a returner. If he retains the starting job and performs well, he could be a late riser, perhaps getting a shot at an all-star week and a chance to impress in workouts.

Holding

Lionel Gates, Louisville (4SR) - A week after his best game of the season, Gates was another face in the crowd. Such is life in the stacked Cardinal backfield. Carries were split evenly among the top four RBs in a blowout of South Florida on 10/22. Gates had 7/34/0 on the ground and 2/5/0 through the air. The Cardinals were off 10/30, with another nation TV Thursday night game on 11/4.

Anthony Davis, Wisconsin (5SR) - A week after a concerted effort to stop him by Purdue, Northwestern couldn't do the same. Davis got back on track with his third 100-yard game on 10/23, rushing for 117 yard and 2 TD on 31 carries in the win.

Walter Reyes, Syracuse (5SR) - Missed his first game since his freshman year with the flu against WVU on 10/21. It ended a streak of 42 consecutive games and cost him an opportunity to flash his abilities in a prime time, nationally televised game. He dressed, but sat on the sidelines with a jacket on and towel over his head. His standout backfield partner, 3JR Damien Rhodes, was not 100% either. Rhodes managed only 65 yards on 21carries in the loss, but scored a TD against a Mountaineer defense that had allowed only 1 in their first six games. After struggling to find running room against FSU and missing a game with sickness, he bounced back huge last week against UConn. Showcased his speed with a 50-yard TD run in the first quarter to put Syracuse up 7-0 and showed his nose for the end zone with a short TD run putting the game out of reach in the 4th quarter. Reyes ended with 121 yards on 15 carries, only his third 100-yard game of the season and first in almost a month.

Darren Sproles, Kansas State (4SR) - The Darren Sproles of old returned for the first time against a Big 12 opponent this year when the Wildcats beat Nebraska on 10/23. It was their third-straight win over the Cornhuskers, and Sproles has broken the 100-yard mark against them each time. He carried the ball 22 times for 135 yard and 2 TDs, adding a few more records to his collection on the scores. His first TD was his 41st of his career, tying the all-time school record. His second TD was a 3-yard run that gave him 6,025 all-purpose yards, breaking the Big 12 record held by Ricky Williams. Last week against Texas Tech he was effective on both sides of the ball, finishing with 18/83/2 and 10/79/0, including a 40-yard TD run that was his 42nd, breaking the school record. However, the team took another loss.

Falling

Kay-Jay Harris, WVU (4SR) - After missing the 10/13 UConn game, he returned from knee and ankle injuries in a win over Syracuse on 10/21. He was still not 100%, limited to just 10 carries for 45 yards as 3SO Jason Colson started and carried the load with a career-high 113 yard on 18 carries. 1FR Pernell Williams saw some work, as well. Harris had a 21 yard run, but he also lost a fumble in the second quarter and saw little work after that. Of note was how HC Rich Rodriguez freely substituted his backs. The success of the young backs behind Harris and the fact the game was a blowout both contributed to him being eased back in from injury, but this is developing into a RBBC. Harris also missed an opportunity on a nationally-televised prime time game to regain some of his falling draft stock. Last Saturday at Rutgers proved it has clearly become a RBBC. The game plan appeared to be to give each of them a series and then play it from there. The freshman Williams surprisingly got the start, and did most of the work on the first drive that ended with a TD he ran in. After Colson got his series, Harris went in. He scored a short TD, his first in over month, to take the lead just before halftime in the back-and-forth game. Harris finished with 7 carries for 24 yards and the TD, but Colson ended up with most of the work, and was impressive, posting 19/103/0. In the 4th quarter, with the game still up for grabs, Rodriguez looked to utilize both Harris and Colson. As Harris struggled, Rodriguez leaned more on Colson, who kept coming through in the clutch, ending with Colson seeing most of the work on the final two drives that sealed the victory.

Bobby Purify, Colorado (5SR) - Continues to play through a partially separated shoulder, and was back to carrying the load with 20/130/1 at College Station on 10/23. However, the shoulder may have played a role in a key fumble he lost in overtime, giving Texas A&M the win. More than the shoulder caused his struggles last week at Texas, although he did have to leave the game early after aggravating it. The Longhorns dominated Colorado, and Purify managed only 13 yards on 12 carries.

Ryan Grant, Notre Dame (4SR) - After a big performance at Navy, Grant returned to mediocrity in a loss to Boston College on 10/23. He rushed 17 times for 48 yards, while 1FR Darius Walker had 8/35/1.

Falling Significantly

Lydell Ross, Ohio State (4SR) - Ross was suspended for the 10/23 game against Indiana due to an incident at a strip club involving theft. He was reinstated the following week, practiced with the scout team, and dressed for the game, but did not play against Penn State last Saturday. He is expected to play Saturday at Michigan State, but is unlikely to start. Aside from the incident, his play was declining prior to the suspension. Stick a fork in his draft aspirations.

Top Underclassmen Eligible for Draft

Vernand Morency, Oklahoma State (3JR) - For the first time in nine games Morency was held without a score in a win over Missouri. However, he finished with 173 yards on 31 carries, keeping his 100-yard game streak alive, breaking the mark in all seven games this season. He also broke the 1K mark for the first time in his career and ended the week second in the nation in total rushing yards with 1,153, three yards behind Cedric Benson. Last Saturday brought a titanic match-up with in-state rival Oklahoma. Knowing the Sooners would be focusing on him, he unselfishly supported the game plan to be used in more of decoy role. He still finished the game with 93 yards rushing on 17 carries, including 2 TDs in the second half of a game that went down to the wire before the Cowboys came up short.

DeAngelo Williams, Memphis (3JR) - Limited to 16/57/0 in a surprise thrashing by the Beacats at Cincinnati on 10/23. It was his worst production since his freshman year. He is still eighth in D-IA in rushing with 134.43 ypg and tied for third in rushing TDs with 12. He had some extra time to get back on track and prepare for his next game, where he'll have a chance to showcase his skills in a national TV match-up Thursday night against two other standout RB prospects on Louisville.

Ciatrick Fason, Florida (3JR) - In a shocker, Florida fell to Mississippi State, ending a five-game losing streak for the Bulldogs. However, Fason showed up to play, grabbing 4 passes for 25 yards and rushing 16 times for 143 yards, including a 55-yard TD run that tied the game in the 3rd quarter. Again did his part to protect a six-game winning streak in the World's Largest Cocktail party, but it wasn't enough to overcome Georgia on 10/30. After dealing with the fallout of losing to Mississippi State and the subsequent firing of HC Ron Zook, Fason was focused on Saturday, contributing 17 carries for 139 yards and 5 receptions for 35 yards. It was his second straight 100-yard game and fourth on the season. Fason suffered a bruised knee in the game, but continued to play, and it isn't expected to be a problem next week. He is also third on the team with 21 catches. His continued success and the turmoil at Jacksonville increase the likelihood he declares early.

T.A. McClendon, North Carolina State (3JR) - Until the loss at UNC on 10/9, the Wolfpack had been 8-0 when McClendon rushed for 100 yards. In the loss to Miami on 10/23, McClendon rushed for 145 yards, but it wasn't enough. As McClendon ran with a purpose and was breaking tackles, HC Chuck Amato looked to find other ways to involve him. McClendon took a direct snap for 13 yards and caught a season-high 3 passed for 19 yards, including a TD. However, McClendon also had a key mistake in the game. After a blocked punt in the first quarter giving the Wolfpack good field position, McClendon busted a 13-yard run and on the next carry went 39 yards on his way to the end zone, but lost the ball and it rolled through the end zone for a Miami touchback. Despite the miscue and loss, it was a strong performance by McClendon. Last Saturday injury problems again reared their ugly head. After carrying 12 times for 31 yards at Clemson, McClendon left with a bruised shoulder after the first half and did not return. His durability continues to be a big issue. With a top heavy draft class and other underclassmen excelling who'll possibly declare, if he can't finish the season strong and healthy, he'll have to reconsider any thoughts of declaring early.

Marion Barber, Minnesota (4JR) - At least temporarily, Barber regained the spotlight from 2SO Laurence Maroney in a blowout of Illinois. The Fighting Illini's 99th ranked run defense held Maroney to 15/72/1, ending a streak of seven-straight 100-yard game. Barber had his first 100-yard game in over four weeks, posting 138 yards on just 11 carries, including a 44-yard TD run, his first of two on the day. He also threw a 21-yard TD pass in the game. Last week was a horrible let down for the running game and team in an upset at Indiana. Barber managed only 65 yards on 20 carries, while a running game that was third in the nation was held more than 100 yards under their season average.

Ryan Moats, Louisiana Tech (3JR) - In a loss to UTEP, he posted 21/99/1, despite having to be helped off the field a few times for injuries. He aggravated the ankle he sprained at Auburn earlier in the season, as well as was hit in the eye and suffered a hip injury. The team had a bye last week, and it sounds like he is healthy again. Moats is second in D-IA with 13 rushing TDs and sixth in rushing with 151.53 ypg.

DonTrell Moore, New Mexico (4JR) - Finished with 22/70/1 in a defensive battle against San Diego State. The team came away with the win, and Moore was active in the passing game with 5 receptions for 46 yards, so those elements helped offset his mediocre rushing performance. Had his fourth 100-yard game of the season last week with 29/154/1 in a win at Colorado State.

Eric Shelton, Louisville (4JR) - Scored a TD, but gained only 23 yards on 8 carries as touches were split evenly among the top our backs in a 10/22 blowout of South Florida.

Wali Lundy, Virginia (3JR) - A week after the entire running game was ineffective at FSU, 4SR Alvin Pearman, who blew up against Clemson, received the starting nod at Duke on 10/23. He responded with a career-high 223 yards and a TD on 38 carries, as well as 3 catches for 44 yards. Lundy, relegated to a back-up role, posted a respectable 11/82/2. If the change of Pearman to starter had occurred in the FSU game, it might have just been a message to Lundy, who HC Al Groh was upset at after a fumble at the Tigers 11 yard-line on the first drive of the second half of the Clemson game. However, two games later, with Lundy unable to redeem himself against the Seminoles (in his defense, the whole offense was bad), it appears to be a demotion and detrimental to his draft value. With the Cavs on a bye last week, we'll have to wait a week to see how this plays, but a reserve role the rest of the season would make it even more unlikely Lundy would declare early.

 



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