Brandon Aiyuk

NFL Draft recruiting
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Exactly half of the players selected in first two rounds of NFL draft were four-star recruits; nearly 70% were four- and five-stars


As the current NFL draft continues to show, recruiting rankings don’t mean everything. But they do mean a lot. Especially when it comes to the first two rounds.

In the first two rounds, a total of the 64 players found themselves their first professional football homes.  And, of those more than five dozen players selected, exactly half of them (32) were four-star signees* coming out of high school.  On top of that, another 11 were five-star prospects when they signed with their respective schools.

Of the first 20 players picked, 16 of them were either four-star (11) or five-star (five) signees.  The No. 1 overall pick, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, was a four-star coming into Ohio State.  His former five-star teammate, OSU defensive end Chase Young, was selected No. 2 overall.

As the No. 6 pick in the first round, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert was the highest-drafted three-star.  Offensive lineman Robert Hunt out of Louisiana was drafted with the seventh pick of the second round, making him the highest-drafted two-star.  And the highest-drafted zero-star?  Div. II Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger, who was selected two picks before Hunt.

All told, 46 of the 106 players (43.4 percent) selected in the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft were four-stars in the recruiting rankings.  The next highest percentage was three-stars at 34.9 percent (37 out of 106).

After 11 in the first two rounds, just one five-star, Arkansas defensive tackle McTelvin Agim, was taken in the third round.

(*According to the composite.)

1. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow: four-star
2. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young: five-star
3. Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah: five-star
4. Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas: four-star
5. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa: five-star
6. Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert: three-star
7. Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown: five-star
8. Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons: three-star
9. Florida cornerback CJ Henderson: four-star
10: Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills: four-star
11: Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton: three-star
12. Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III: four-star
13: Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs: four-star
14. South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw: four-star
15. Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy: five-star
16. Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell: four-star
17. Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb: four-star
18. USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson: four-star
19. Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette: three-star
20. LSU defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson: four-star
21. TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor: four-star
22. LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson: three-star
23: Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray: three-star
24: Michigan center Cesar Ruiz: four-star
25: Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk: three-star
26: Utah State quarterback Jordan Love: three-star
27: Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks: three-star
28: LSU linebacker Patrick Queen: four-star
29: Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson: five-star
30: Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene: four-star
31: TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney: three-star
32: LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire: three-star

Five-star: 6
Four-star: 15
Three-star: 11
Two-star: 0
Zero-star: 0

33. Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins: five-star
34. USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.: four-star
35. Georgia running back D'Andre Swift: five-star
36: Alabama safety Xavier McKinney: four-star
37: Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger: zero-star
38: Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos: four-star
39. Louisiana guard Robert Hunt: two-star
40: TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock: four-star
41: Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor: three-star
42: Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault: three-star
43: Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet: four-star
44: LSU safety Grant Delpit: four-star
45. Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr.: three-star
46. Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler: four-star
47. Auburn defensive tackle Marlon Davidson: four-star
48. Tennessee defensive end Darrell Taylor: four-star
49. Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool: four-star
50. Utah defensive back Jaylon Johnson: four-star
51. Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs: four-star
52. Florida State running back Cam Akers: five-star
53. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts: four-star
54. Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa: five-star
55. Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins: four-star
56. Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis: four-star
57. Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson: four-star
58. Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland: three-star
59. Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims: three-star
60. Michigan linebacker Josh Uche: three-star
61. LSU defensive back Kristian Fulton: five-star
62. Boston College running back AJ Dillon: three-star
63. Mississippi State linebacker Willie Gay Jr.: four-star
64. Southern Illinois defensive back Jeremy Chinn: zero-star

Five-star: 5
Four-star: 17
Three-star: 7
Two-star: 1
Zero-star: 2

65. Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson: two-star
66. Memphis wide receiver Antonio Gibson: three-star
67: Notre Dame linebacker Julian Okwara: four-star
68: Cal defensive back Ashtyn Davis: zero-star
69. LSU guard Damien Lewis: three-star
70. Texas defensive back Brandon Jones: four-star
71. Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike: four-star
72. Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones: three-star
73. Ohio State defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton: three-star
74. Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun: three-star
75. Ohio State offensive lineman Jonah Jackson: three-star
76. Vanderbilt running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn: four-star
77. Iowa cornerback Michael Ojemudia: three-star
78. Temple center Matt Hennessy: two-star
79. Florida defensive end Jabari Zuniga: three-star
80. Kentucky wide receiver Lynn Bowden: four-star
81. South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards: four-star
82. Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore: four-star
83. LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry: three-star
84. Alabama linebacker Terrell Lewis: four-star
85. Utah defensive back Julian Blackmon: three-star
86. Utah running back Zack Moss: three-star
87. Alabama linebacker Anfernee Jennings: four-star
88. Missouri defensive tackle Jordan Elliott: four-star
89. Mississippi State cornerback Cameron Dantzler: three-star
90. Florida defensive end Jonathan Greenard: three-star
91. UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi: four-star
92. Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay: four-star
93. Appalachian State running back Darrynton Evans: two-star
94. Cincinnati tight end Josiah Deguara: two-star
95. Arkansas defensive tackle McTelvin Agim: five-star
96. TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang: three-star
97: LSU linebacker Jacob Phillips: four-star
98. Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison: three-star
99. UConn offensive tackle Matt Peart: two-star
100. Clemson safety Tanner Muse: three-star
101. Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene: three-star
102: Charlotte linebacker Alex Highsmith: zero-star
103: Colorado linebacker Davion Taylor: four-star
104: Utah safety Terrell Burgess: three-star
105: Dayton tight end Adam Trautman: zero-star
106. Mississippi State offensive tackle Tyre Phillips: three-star

Five-star: 1
Four-star: 14
Three-star: 19
Two-star: 5
Zero-star: 3

CFT Previews: Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Arizona State Oregon Johnny Wilson flip
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WHO: Arizona State (7-5) vs. Florida State (6-6)
WHAT: The 86th Sun Bowl
WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. ET on CBS
WHERE: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas

THE SKINNY: This one is going to be… grrrrrrreat? Ok, maybe the new Sun Bowl sponsor has you thinking that but the latest edition of the venerable game out in West Texas will be a compelling Pac-12/ACC matchup but in truth, NFL Draft departures have taken some of the interest out of this one.

You can start with star FSU tailback Cam Akers, who has been the focal point of the team’s offense since arriving on campus. His absence (along with every other scholarship running back) likely means even more will be placed on the shoulders of quarterback James Blackman as we could see the ‘Noles go full Air Raid as a result.

The Sun Devils are not immune from the draft departures either as two of their best players, RB Eno Benjamin and WR Brandon Aiyukwill be skipping the festivities. The veterans are not only fantastic players capable of taking it to the house on every touch but have been great in helping along freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels. The latter will now be the even more of the show on offense but that’s not a bad thing for either watching this game nor ASU’s budding future.

All of which should make for one of those strangely entertaining games between two somewhat evenly matched teams, talent-wise. Florida State fans fired up about the future under Mike Norvell will definitely be interested to see how hard guys play as they try to impress the incoming staff while Herm Edwards would love to hit eight wins and build further momentum heading into 2020. The Sun Devils are a little closer to full strength and get the added benefit of not having quite as much staff upheaval (though there has been plenty of that), so they get the slight edge coming into this one.

THE PICK: Arizona State 23, Florida State 13

Arizona State makes it three Territorial Cup wins in a row over Arizona

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High scores have been a staple of the Territorial Cup for pretty much a decade but points were at a premium in this year’s edition as Arizona State used a big third quarter run to secure a 24-14 win over rival Arizona and keep the sport’s oldest rivalry trophy in Tempe for a third straight season.

Leading the way was none other than veteran tailback Eno Benjamin, who did most of his damage coming out of the halftime break in notching 168 yards and two touchdown runs. The breakout came after a fairly quiet first half in which his biggest highlight was otherwise blocking a defender all the way, quite literally, onto a bench on the sidelines.

Freshman QB Jayden Daniels was thankful for the efforts of his tailback on an otherwise average night passing, following up his heroics against Oregon to post only 104 yards through the air. Wideout Brandon Aiyuk had a quiet night as well with just five catches for 67 yards.

The disappointing result in the game capped off a similarly disappointing season for the Wildcats. Khalil Tate got the start at quarterback and posted some good numbers (228 yards, 2 TD passing, 78 yards rushing) that were otherwise spoiled by a trio of mistakes (three interceptions). Jamarye Joiner was a nice highlight at least for UA with seven catches for 140 yards and both of the team’s trips to the end zone.

Still, 4-8 in Kevin Sumlin’s second season in Tucson with a pair of losses to the school up the road isn’t exactly what fans had in mind when the former Texas A&M coach was hired and will likely result in a lengthy offseason of soul-searching and plenty of changes before a hot seat-fueled 2020 rolls around.

That is not the case for Herm Edwards and company, who have continued to show progress with an extremely young team. Though the Sun Devils didn’t wind up putting up the kinds of offensive performances we’re used to seeing in this game, that doesn’t matter in the end given that they, well, played to win it no matter what the path was to a victory. That will surely bring a smile to their coach’s face over the coming weeks as the Territorial Cup remains in ASU hands once again.

Arizona leads at halftime over ASU in a low-scoring Territorial Cup

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Arizona State beat Arizona by a point last year in a 41-40 thriller in Tucson. The rematch in this season’s Territorial Cup… would be no such barn-burner.

The Sun Devils wound up trailing at home 7-6 to their rivals down South at the halftime break on Saturday night as it was the defenses that ruled the field this time around.

Khalil Tate got the start at quarterback for the Wildcats and was generally making the most of it, throwing for 125 yards plus a TD and rushing for 53 more despite how tough it was to advance the football. He did toss a bad interception as time was winding down in the half but it was still more output overall than his counterparts were able to manage against a shockingly stingy UA defensive effort.

Making his first appearance in this rivalry series, ASU freshman QB Jayden Daniels was not quite picking up where he left off in that upset of Oregon last week in throwing for 94 yards on 11-of-17 passing. Tailback Eno Benjamin was also held in check with just 26 yards on the ground while big play machine Brandon Aiyuk netted 67 yards on five catches.

So yeah, it’s a little different type of game than a year ago but that doesn’t make it any less competitive as two programs who absolutely do not like each other have a half to play before one of them hoists the oldest rivalry trophy in the sport up.

No. 6 Oregon exits College Football Playoff debate after Arizona State pulls off upset

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“You play to win the game,” Arizona State’s head coach famously once said.

On Saturday night, Herm Edwards’ team did just that, upending No. 6 Oregon 31-28 and throwing the Pac-12’s College Football Playoff hopes back on thin ice in the process.

The Sun Devils simply came up with the big play whenever they needed to in front of their fired up crowd in Tempe, nearly doubling the Ducks’ in total yards, time of possession and red zone appearances. The final score would have looked even more impressive had they been able to covert a few more drives into touchdowns instead of field goals but nobody at ASU will think much of those drives as the fan base parties hard on Mill Avenue well into Sunday morning to celebrate the end result.

Freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels came up big once again on the grand stage of a primetime game against a ranked opponent, waiting until the final minutes of the first half to throw his first incompletion and ending the night with 408 yards and a trio of beautiful touchdown throws.

Eno Benjamin paced the effort on the ground with 114 yards but it was the stud wide receivers who really made life difficult against a defense that had been one of the better units in the conference. Brandon Aiyuk was the big threat with 161 yards and the dagger of a touchdown from 81 out with just under four minutes left in the game. Frank Darby wasn’t too shabby either, needing just four receptions to net 125 yards and two scores.

Oregon’s offense, meanwhile, spent most of the evening stuck in neutral before a 21-point fourth quarter nearly salvaged the trip to warmer climates. QB Justin Herbert threw two awful interceptions to keep his team behind the eight ball but finished with a respectable 304 yards and two touchdown passes. Tailback Cyrus Habibi-Likio did punch it into the end zone twice from short yardage but otherwise it was CJ Verdell who led the team in rushing with 99 yards on 13 carries before the team was forced to go over the top with the passing game to rally.

Either way, the game was yet another reminder for the program that such trips to the desert of Arizona have been painful in recent years. The team was blown out in Tucson last season and lost by two in 2017’s visit to Tempe. They did notch a win back in 2015 over ASU but needed triple overtime to do so and came on the heels of another blowout loss to the Wildcats in 2013. Add in being on the wrong side in the BCS title game back in 2011 and the house of horrors the state has been continues unabated this past decade.

The most recent loss snaps Oregon’s nine game win streak in the process and assuredly knocks them from the ranks of the College Football Playoff chase. While they have clinched the Pac-12 North title even with the result, a trip to the Rose Bowl is the best that Mario Cristobal’s program can hope for in 2019.

That’s not at all a bad consolation prize of course but it’s also not quite where fans and players were hoping to end up at either as dreams of the final four went poof in the Phoenix area once again. You play to win the game after all and the Ducks didn’t do that at all against the one guy who has made it a habit to remind folks that is what football is about in the end.