NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
Two conferences remain in our top senior prospect previews. Among the remaining conferences is the strongest in America (SEC), but this week we look at the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The WAC has been one of the hardest hit conferences in America, thanks to the conference shifting that has gone on in college football.
Over the past two seasons the WAC has lost Fresno State, Boise State, Nevada and Hawaii. This year the WAC features two teams that are brand new to Division 1 football. It figures to be a down year talent wise in the conference, but there are still some prospects to watch.
Who are the top Senior prospects in the WAC this year? Are any of them draftable?
Gary Walker, FS – Top play-maker on the Vandals defense. Starter 23 of the last 24 games at free safety, second on the team with 109 tackles last season. Walker has good range and has exhibited the ability to tackle in the open field. Has experience on special teams and has improved his play each season at Idaho. Walker is considered the top FS prospect in the WAC.
Quinton Patton, WR – Patton is probably the best player in the WAC this year. After hauling in 79 catches for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns, Patton burst on to NFL scouts radar. At 6’1″ 195 pounds, Patton has the frame of an NFL receiver. While his speed isn’t verified, on tape he looks to be in the 4.55 range. Patton has very good hands and isn’t afraid to go over the middle of the field and catch the ball in traffic. Patton has outstanding character and is poised to have a great season, which could make him a 3rd-4th round pick in April.
New Mexico State
Walton Taumoepeau, DT – Last season New Mexico State had a couple good NFL prospects. This year their top prospect is the Walton Taumoepeau. Taumoepeau can push the pocket and rush the quarterback from up the middle. Taumoepeau has an impressive frame at 6’3″ 300 pounds and can move well for his size. Last season, he recorded 25 tackles, nine solo efforts, three sacks, 4.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles. With his size and agility Taumoepeau can play a couple of different positions along the defensive line. He should get some interest as an UDFA at least.
San Jose State
David Quessenberry, OT – Fifth year senior and captain. Has started 25 straight games at left tackle. Quessenberry is a finesse LT prospect who has good movement skills. At only 290-295 pounds he needs to add some muscle to his frame and learn to play a little tougher. Quessenberry will likely be a mid-late round OT prospect. Aside from starting at LT, Quessenberry has special teams experience which makes him an intriguing prospect.
Ryan Otten, TE – Otten is one of the top returning tight ends to college football this season. Ryan Otten is the top receiving weapon for SJSU and one of the top overall NFL prospects in the WAC. Last season Otten exhibited good hands and solid athleticism for the TE position catching 52 balls for 739 yards. Otten is not a tradition TE, he can line up at multiple spots and even be classified as an H-Back. With the tight end position becoming more valuable, especially tight ends that can be moved around, Otten is likely to be drafted next April.
Darryl Morris, CB – 3 year starter at CB and named to the All-Conference 2nd team as a Sophomore. Morris is an aggressive and physical CB despite his 5’10 188 pound frame. Recorded 62 tackles and 3.0 sacks as a junior. With Texas State making the jump to the Division 1 level, Morris is being counted on for his leadership and dedication to the game. Former Texas A&M and current Texas State Head Coach Dennis Franchione had high praise for Morris at media day and early in the preseason.
Kerwynn Williams, RB – Is poised to take on the workhorse back role now that both Robert Turbin and Michael Smith have gone on to the NFL. Williams is a different type of back from Turbin. Williams is a small, dynamic speedster who will be a change of pace/3rd down back in the NFL. Williams reminds me of a Dexter McCluster or Jacquizz Rodgers. He is able to line up all over the offense, single back, in the slot and split wide. He can catch the ball well and can run away from just about anyone. Williams is also a dynamic kick returner although Utah State, might limit him on those this year due to his importance to the offense. With the type of offense they run, Williams could lead all of college football in rushing yards this year.
Matt Austin, WR – Austin is a big possession receiver who won’t impress with his speed or athleticism. Austin is the most reliable WR on the Utah State team and has shown he can make the big play in crunch time. Utah State doesn’t throw the ball much, but when they do Austin is their go to guy. Austin does a good job of using his body to create separation and has impressive control/concentration when catching the ball. He has overcome two season ending knee injuries, so while it’s unlikely he will be drafted, he should get a look in a camp.
Patrick Hoog, OT – Hoog is an Oklahoma State transfer who profiles as an offensive guard at the next level. Hoog has missed a lot of time with injuries throughout his career. As a freshman he was a Big XII All-Academic selection. Texas-San Antonio is in their first year as a Division-1 football team and only has seven seniors on their roster; the pickings are slim. While Hoog is a borderline prospect he is the best on their roster.