With Week 1 of the college football season in the books, here's a look at who's on the rise and who's in decline based on the weekend's action.
H-back Braxton Miller, Ohio State: The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year quickly reminded scouts of his explosive playmaking potential with his sensational performance against Virginia Tech. Miller amassed 140 yards from scrimmage on eight touches (six rushes for 62 rushing yards; two receptions for 78 receiving yards) with a pair of scores, including the spectacular 53-yard run that featured a spin move that set the Twitter-verse on fire. With Miller displaying better-than-anticipated hands and ball skills as a receiver while continuing to impress as a runner/playmaker, the Ohio State star is already making a compelling case to merit a shot as an offensive specialist on draft day.
QB Josh Rosen, UCLA: It's uncommon for a freshman quarterback to live up to the recruiting-trail hype that precedes his arrival, but Rosen definitely looked like a franchise quarterback in his sensational debut against Virginia. The Bruins' star completed 28 of 33 passes for 351 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He not only exhibited A-plus arm talent, but he showed poise and maturity beyond his years by connecting with 10 different receivers on the day. Although the brilliant performance should be kept in perspective, it is easy for scouts to get excited about a strong-armed passer with solid pocket mechanics and unflappable confidence. If Rosen can follow up his debut with another strong game, the hype machine will start buzzing about the next Troy Aikman plying his trade in Westwood.
DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M: Scouts get excited whenever they spot a pass rusher with exceptional first-step quickness and snap-count anticipation. So, they will absolutely fall in love with the Aggies' 6-foot-2, 265-pounder after watching his sensational showing against Arizona State. Garrett single-handedly destroyed the rhythm of the Sun Devils' passing game with his pass-rushing prowess, finishing the night with two sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and three quarterback hurries. He created such a ruckus off the edge that his counterpart (Daeshon Hall) quietly notched four sacks on the back side with the Sun Devils intent on slowing down Garrett with double and triple teams. With Garrett coming off an 11.5-sack season and regarded as one of the most explosive athletes in the country at his position, NFL scouts are already taking notice of the budding superstar wreaking havoc in College Station.
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama: It is possible that the 6-3, 242-pounder with 4.4 speed will end the ridiculous chatter about the demise of the running back position when scouts take a long, hard look at his play against Wisconsin. The junior amassed 147 yards on 13 carries on the way to a three-touchdown effort against the Badgers. While most expect a big back with a muscled-up frame to exhibit strength, power and toughness with the ball in his hands, Henry shows all of those traits and more, churning out yards between the tackles. He is a rare big back with home-run speed and natural receiving skills. As the focal point of a hard-hitting Crimson Tide offense, Henry will get to showcase his skills as a feature back and convince scouts that running backs continue to matter in today's game.
WR Corey Coleman, Baylor: Evaluators are always searching for speedy pass-catchers with big-play ability and electric running skills. Thus, Coleman is squarely on the radar of NFL scouts as one of the most explosive playmakers in college football. He put his dynamic talents on display against SMU with a five-catch, 178-yard effort that featured a spectacular 60-yard "catch-and-run" touchdown, which showcased his sudden acceleration and burst on the perimeter. Given Baylor's reputation for producing standout playmakers (Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright) at the next level, Coleman's impressive debut will garner attention in meeting rooms around the NFL.
S Tiquan Lang, Marshall: Whenever a defensive back delivers a pair of pick-sixes in one game, scouts stand up and take notice. Thus, Lang will get plenty of attention from evaluators after recording 17 tackles and two interceptions in the Thundering Herd's 41-31 victory over Purdue. With Lang showing the ability to read and jump routes (his first interception was the result of an excellent read by Lang on an in-breaking route) and snag overthrows in his direction, the Marshall standout is starting to create a buzz about his playmaking ability in the back end. Considering he also showcased solid tackling skills and awareness, Lang's star could be on the rise in the scouting community.
QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State: The Nittany Lions' star has been widely discussed as one of the next great NFL quarterbacks, but scouts might pump the brakes on the speculation after watching him struggle against Temple. Hackenberg finished with just 103 passing yards and took 10 sacks in the Owls' 27-10 victory. Granted, the leaky play of the offensive line and inexperienced receivers certainly hindered Hackenberg's ability to make plays on the perimeter, but scouts expect franchise quarterbacks to raise the performance of their teammates and find a way to get things done in spite of obstacles. Sure, those are lofty expectations for a junior quarterback still adjusting to a new offense, but franchise quarterbacks are viewed at a higher standard and must meet those expectations to earn a high grade as a potential No. 1 overall selection.
Head coach David Shaw, Stanford: The Cardinal were expected to field a rugged team sparked by a dynamic offense under the direction of senior quarterback Kevin Hogan. However, Shaw's unit failed to score at least 10 points for the first time since Oct. 27, 2007 in a 16-6 loss to Northwestern. In addition, the Cardinal failed to amass 90 rushing yards for the third time against a Power 5 opponent since October. Given Shaw's reputation for being an offensive wizard, Stanford's putrid offensive showing against Northwestern might foreshadow serious woes for a team expected to contend in the Pac-12 North.