Ah yes. Do you smell that? The football winds have kicked up and are wafting to your senses. College football begins next month. The final season of the BCS as we know it (a four-team playoff will begin in 2014) kicks off Thursday, August 29 marking the start of what should be a pretty compelling season.
This week the famous watch lists for college awards will be made public. Essentially these watch lists are nothing more than a group of names that committees have selected for fans and pundits to keep an eye on. There is literally an award for every single position group on the field. Keeping track can be a bit tedious. But that's why we're here.
Over the next week or so, Trevor Woods and I will fill you on the watch lists and give you a few names from each list we'll be keeping any eye on. These names could be targets in next year's draft or just some high impact guys who are likely to be household names come 2014.
Let's begin with a look at the Bednarik Award watch list. The Bednarik Award is given out annually to the best defensive player in college football. The award is named after University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Famer, Chuck Bednarik.
Without further ado, here is the 2013 Bednarik watch list:
Three of the players on the list were named semifinalists in 2012. The clear favorite to win the award in 2013 is South Carolina All-World defensive end and virtual lock to be the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, Jadeveon Clowney. The other two semifinalists from 2012 are Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, and Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton. All three of these players are likely first round selections in the 2014 NFL draft.
The best way to look at this list in terms of potential impact to the 49ers might be to look ahead at possible positions of need for 2014. With Nnamdi Asomugha, Carlos Rogers, and Terrell Brown's futures by the Bay very much in doubt, corner seems like an obvious need in 2014. The best on this watch list include:
- Bradley Roby, Ohio State, rJr. - Roby earned All-American honors in 2012 tallying 19 pass deflections in just 11 games. Roby has good size at 5-11, 193lbs and even better speed.
- Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma, Sr. - The senior has started 26 games at Oklahoma including 12 games at safety. He has good size at 6-0, 182lbs and is an above average tackler.
- Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon, Jr. - Another impressive junior, Ekpre-Olomu started every game for Oregon as a true Sophomore in 2012 and broke up 20 passes while recording four interceptions. He personifies physicality at the corner position.
- Jason Verrett, TCU, Sr. - Verrett could easily be tabbed as the nation's top corner. The senior led the pass-happy Big 12 in interceptions (six) and passes defended (22). He was the only player in the country to finish in the top ten in both categories.
- Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida, Jr. - Purifoy will get a lot of hype due to his athleticism. At 6-1 he's got plus size and he's been clocked at 4.3 in the forty. Purifoy will also line up at receiver this year for the Gators.
Donte Whitner has one year left on his contract and his play will be under a microscope this season. Potential replacements from this list could be:
- Craig Loston, LSU, rSr. - Loston is a big hitting strong safety with good size and speed. He checks in at 6-2, 210lbs while running a 4.56 forty. He was second team All-SEC in 2012 with 55 tackles and three interceptions.
- Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State, rSr. - A soon-to-be four year starter, Zimmerman earned All-American honors last year posting 50 tackles and five picks. Not the most athletic of the group but is very ‘football smart' and is solid in both pass and run defense.
Other really exciting players to watch include:
- OLB/DE Anthony Barr from UCLA reportedly ran a 4.47 forty during spring workouts in front of scouts.
- OLB Kyle Van Noy from BYU produced like you would have thought Ziggy Ansah has given all of his hype. Van Noy was an All-American in 2013 finishing second in the nation with 13 sacks.
- DT/NT Louis Nix III of Notre Dame checks in at 6-3, 326lbs. Nix was perhaps the only bright spot in the national championship game against Alabama as he consistently pressured now NFL rookies, Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack.