*Sniffs air* Do you smell that? It’s the scent of sweet, sweet college football in the air.
Thursday night’s slate of games will see several intriguing prospects play in a live-action contest with the likes of Ohio State, Utah, Minnesota, Coastal Carolina, and Arizona State all set to take the field.
As always, The Draft Network will have our eyes on just about everybody playing, but here are three prospects that I’ll personally be paying close attention to.
DANIEL FAALELE, OT, MINNESOTA
A mammoth offensive tackle, Faalele stands in at 6-foot-8 and recently slimmed down to roughly 370 pounds. I’m sorry, what? Ys, you read that right. Faalele opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns surrounding the pandemic but has now decided to return to the Gophers for the 2021 season.
Faalele was a well sought-after prospect that turned down offers from Alabama, LSU, and Georgia just to name a few. The last time we saw Faalele on the field, he showed impressive movement skills for a man of his stature. A prospect that’s still scratching the surface of his potential, we’re eager to watch Faalele this season after he spent a year away from the game.
We’ll learn a lot about Faalele on Thursday night. He’ll get a solid test against Ohio State’s edge rushers.
CHRIS OLAVE, WR, OHIO STATE
This one is a no-brainer. One of the best receivers in the country, the 6-foot-1 Olave shocked the world when he decided to return for his senior season despite already totaling an impressive 111 receptions, 1,775 yards, and 22 touchdowns in three years as a Buckeye.
A polished route-runner that separates from man coverage at will, Olave is expected to be one of the most impressive receivers in all of college football this season. Olave possesses the rare skill set necessary to win when running short, intermediate, and deep routes.
Olave is back for one final year in Scarlet and Grey and ready to solidify himself as a first-round prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. That process could start with a standout showing on Thursday night.
JEFFREY GUNTER, DE, COASTAL CAROLINA
Gunter may not be capturing national headlines yet, but he should absolutely be on your radar. Coastal Carolina is a program on the rise and is now being recognized as such after putting together an astounding 11-1 record last season.
The Chanticleers had a defensive lineman drafted last year when Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Tarron Jackson was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round. Gunter will now look to follow in Jackson’s footsteps—the signs are there. Gunter flashed at times last season while recording a career-high 6.5 sacks.
Gunter is a senior prospect that could take a big step forward this campaign. If he can put together another strong season in 2021, Gunter may earn himself a Senior Bowl invite and work his way into the Day 2 conversation.
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