By: Matt Hicks |
There appears to be an abundance of talent emerging from Conference USA (C-USA), which stretches from Florida-to-Texas and contains an energizing brand of college football. The 2020 season, in particular, has allowed for an increased level of exposure for some teams that may not otherwise have found themselves on national television frequently. This increased level of exposure has helped shine a light on some of the pro-ready talents throughout the conference.
The five players featured in this article have been chosen with consideration to their performance during the 2020 college football season and their potential impact in the NFL.
Sincere McCormick, Running Back, Texas-San Antonio
McCormick is dominating the conference, rushing for a conference-leading 1,345 yards and 11 touchdowns over the course of 10 games. The true sophomore back now has 2,328 career rushing yards and 19 career rushing touchdowns. He has gained at least 150 yards in half of his games this season and has found the end zone six times, with four of those games being multi-touchdown performances.
The 5-9, 200-pound back will first be eligible to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft and should be considered a legitimate candidate to do so. It is early to project his future draft position but it is reasonable to expect him to not be held back by the logo on his helmet when being evaluated by NFL scouts.
Austin Watkins Jr., Wide Receiver, Alabama-Birmingham
The 6-3, 210-pound wideout enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, catching 57 balls for 1,092 yards and six touchdowns. In 2019, his 19.2 yards per receptions was fourth-best in the conference. This season, Watkins has hauled in 33 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns.
Watkins Jr. has accepted a coveted invitation to the Senior Bowl. This showcase game will provide him with the platform to skyrocket his NFL Draft status before the eyes of the NFL’s top talent evaluators. This makes him a priority player for devy fantasy football players to watch.
Grant Wells, Quarterback, Marshall
It didn’t take long for Wells to make his presence felt on the college football landscape. The 6-2, 210-pound redshirt freshman gunslinger threw for 1,839 yards and 16 touchdowns over the course of an eight-game stretch for the Thundering Herd. This includes three games with at least three touchdowns, including a Week 7 performance against Middle Tennessee State University, where he threw for five touchdowns and 336 yards.
He still has a good deal of development before he becomes a legitimate NFL draft prospect but his live arm is sure to appeal to NFL front offices. Wells will most likely be a member of the 2023 NFL Draft class and is a prospect worth monitoring over the course of the next few seasons.
Spencer Brown, Running Back Alabama-Birmingham
Brown has an intriguing production profile. He rushed for more than 2,500 yards and 26 touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Blazers. Since the end of the 2018 season, he has only rushed for an additional 1,306 yards and 15 touchdowns in 19 games. Still, he is currently third in the conference in rushing yards and second in rushing touchdowns for 2020.
The East-West Shrine Bowl will not be held this year, but Brown was recognized with an invitation to the event that has helped launch many NFL careers. He may not get drafted come April but should find himself fighting for a roster spot over the summer.
Frank Gore Jr., Running Back, Southern Mississippi
The son of future Hall of Famer and current Jets running back Frank Gore Sr, the junior edition had an impressive first collegiate season. The true freshman rushed for 597 yards and one touchdown for the Golden Eagles. He finished the year as the seventh leading rusher in the conference and in yards per attempt. Gore Jr. was fifth in the C-USA in yards from scrimmage, with 688 total yards.
Gore Jr. is a long-term player to watch. He will first be eligible to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft. His first year is encouraging enough for devy fantasy football players to become interested in following along with his journey over the next two or three seasons.