Week 1 completely rewrote expectations for the entire college football season. FSU toppled LSU in decisive fashion. Colorado stunned TCU in a high-scoring thriller. Duke capitalized on a litany of Clemson mistakes for a statement victory. Understandably, there were major changes made to big boards across the country based on these performances.
Week 2 offers another loaded slate with tons of fascinating prospect matchups. Seeing Shedeur Sanders make his Colorado home debut against Nebraska is a must-see TV. Alabama-Texas might be the biggest non-conference game of the season. The other ranked-vs.-ranked matchup of the weekend might surprise people as Tulane clashes with Ole Miss.
While there are hundreds of prospects who need to perform well, this week offers a unique opportunity for several prospects looking to elevate their draft stock. While of course, I will be watching Caleb Williams and Drake Maye in action, it is hard to see them raising their draft stock much higher. However, these five prospects have an excellent opportunity to generate some positive buzz and thrust themselves into the national conversation.
Payton Wilson, LB, NC State
Like it or not, playing Notre Dame on national television is still a huge stage. The Irish are a physical team with a good run game. That lines up well for Wilson to put up a mega stat line. He had 10 tackles, an interception, and a pass breakup in the season opener against UConn. Now, he will be tasked with slowing down Audric Estime and Sam Hartman, who have looked sharp so far this season, albeit against inferior competition. Wilson has NFL size and traits but does not have the hype of many of his peers in this class to this point. This is a big opportunity for him to raise his stock.
Adonai “A.D.” Mitchell, WR, Texas
I contemplated going with Quinn Ewers here, but I think Mitchell has even more to gain with a good performance. The former Georgia receiver missed much of the 2022 season due to injury, posting just nine receptions. As a true junior, it is far from a guarantee he will come out this year, but a big performance against one of the top corners in this draft class in Kool-Aid McKinstry could go a long way to pushing Mitchell into the top 50 discussions. At 6’4″, he has the size that NFL teams crave. He already has won over many scouts and analysts, but I think the league will want to see him producing at a high level for a full season to buy into the hype.
Michael Pratt, QB, Tulane
This past week, the college football world has fawned over Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Shedeur Sanders, Michael Penix Jr., and plenty of other quarterbacks. Pratt seems to be flying under the radar despite leading Tulane to a Cotton Bowl victory last year and putting on a stellar display against South Alabama a week ago. Ole Miss is far from a defensive juggernaut, but the opportunity to play against SEC competition cannot be overlooked. Completing 93 percent of his passes with four touchdowns feels unrealistic, but another strong outing will force scouts to reconsider where he stands in the quarterback pecking order for this 2024 class.
Bryce Foster, C, Texas A&M
One of the best positional battles to take place this weekend will occur in the trenches in Coral Gables. Foster, the junior center for the Aggies, will line up opposite the Hurricanes’ star defensive tackle, Leonard Taylor III. Foster is coming off a season-ending injury but returned to action against New Mexico State to open the year. Without a clear candidate to be the top center in this draft class, handling the responsibility of locking up Miami’s experienced defensive line would go a long way to pushing him to the front of that conversation.
Deshawn Pace, LB, Cincinnati
Unlike a lot of the other players on this list, I did not pick Pace because he is playing a nationally televised game. In fact, Cincinnati will face Pittsburgh on the CW Network, not exactly known as a hub for college football. Still, matching up with a talented Pittsburgh offense offers a great chance for Pace to make even more of a name for himself. He is undersized, listed at 6’2″, 212 lbs, but that does not stop him from making plays. Pitt has tons of experience across the offense, presenting a really good challenge for Pace.