At Optimum Scouting, both on and off the internet, we evaluate and work with small school prospects for our pro team clients as well as for our All-Star game work. Our primary All-Star game client, the Dream Bowl, features many of the best non-FBS prospects in the country, and players like current Colts receiver Chester Rogers have turned into quality pro players.
This year, Optimum Scouting added Tyrant Scouting to the Dream Bowl player evaluation staff to help find the best small school players in the country. Jason is a really hard-working and up-and-coming evaluator, and his commitment to small school evaluation put this small-school focused “roundtable” discussion.
Enjoy and hopefully you can dive into the small ranks of college football and learn who some of the players NFL teams are (quietly) talking about and coveting at the lower levels.
Eric Galko, Optimum Scouting: Alright, so let’s start off this small school roundtable. Figured instead of a list or an article, having you and I talk about some guys will (hopefully) make for a better read (and we’ll bold the players as we go to help keep track). But let’s start with the good stuff: Who’s your top-5 non-FBS players in the country?
Jason at TyrantScouting.com: I’d say my Top 5 goes something like this…Cooper Kupp (WR, EWU), Corey Levin (OG, UTC), Nick DeLuca (ILB, NDSU), Karter Schult (DE, UNI), and Keionta Davis (DE, UTC). Though there are quite a few others pretty close, these guys stand out. How about you?
EG: Schult is a unique one. Cooper Kupp, Bucknell OL Julien Davenport (pre-season early/mid-round grades from NFL teams), Tanoh Kpassagnon (Villanova DE), Brady Gustafson (Montana QB) and Phazahn Odom (Fordham TE). Odom is already one of my favorite players in the whole draft.
JE: All great picks. Odom is definitely a physical specimen, with a little polish he could definitely be playing on Sundays. I really like Davenport too, solid technician at the Tackle position with Pro size. At Tackle, I’d also throw out Jessamen Dunker (OT, Tennessee State), who was a former SEC lineman before transferring. Any other guys you’re really sold on offensive line-wise?
EG: Dunker certainly a good one; NFL teams are on him. Two HBCU guys: Javarious Leamon of South Carolina State and Jylan Ware of Alabama State. Two massive body types with the requisite body types.
But enough about linemen. Which QBs do you like? For the sake of discussion, let’s leave out Gustofson, who we can talk more about later.
JE: I was a huge fan of Jordan West (QB, EWU), but he was knocked out of his starting gig by Gage Gabrud. Eli Jenkins (QB, Jax State) is a very mobile, electric type of player. [Murray State QB] KD Humphries is a similar mobile, kind of guy. Who do you like outside of Gustafson?
EG: Yeah, I know you like Humphries. You tweet about him a lot. Both good names there. I haven’t found one after those three that I’ve gotten too excited about, but Zachary Conque has some awesome measurables (6’5, 235). Hasn’t wowed really, but I bet he gets a camp tryout if he finishes his senior year well.
JE: One of the guys I really like we’ll be talking about in two years. He’s only a Sophomore, but he’s a gunslinger, Case Cookus (QB, NAU). Do you want to dive in on Gustafson?
EG: Sure. I think he’s one of the most fun QB prospects in the country. Strong arm, takes chances (too often) and can throw from multiple angles. Pocket passer, smooth in a lot of ways, but many of his non-gunslinger issues seem fixable. You?
JE: I would agree. He has great size and a powerful arm, that he trusts maybe a little too much. At times, he’ll try to rifle one into a WR who isn’t open. But like I said about Odom, a little polish or progression this season could put guys in great position come draft season. What guys are looking at as under the radar prospects, sleepers?
EG: Some sleepers? How about Shepard WR Billy Brown, who’s 6’4 with a move TE body and some legitimate big-play ability. Richmond’s David Jones is a talented dual defensive back who’s on NFL radars. And finally, Alabama A&M TE Jonathan Dorsey, a WR/TE hybrid, is intriguing to me. How about some sleepers on your end?
JE: Nice, good picks. I like Tyson Graham (Safety, South Dakota), Jordan Morgan (OT, Kutztown), Yamen Sanders (Safety, Montana), Jordan Norris (CB, NWOSU) and a guy who’s looked solid this year is Winston Craig (DT, Richmond).