With Week 3 of college football in the books, it is time to take note of who saw their stock rise and fall based on the weekend's action.
QB Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati: The hype surrounding the well-traveled former five-star recruit is valid after watching Kiel put on a spectacular performance against Toledo. The 6-foot-4, 208-pound sophomore completed 25 of 37 passes for 418 and six touchdowns while displaying the exceptional arm talent that made him one of the most coveted quarterback prospects in the high school ranks. In additional, Kiel flashed the athleticism and leadership skills that scouts covet in franchise players at the position. Although a one-game showcase is not enough to tout Kiel as a blue-chip prospect, the showing certainly put the Bearcats' star on the radar of executives looking for the next big thing at the position.
QB Tyler Murphy, Boston College: It's unlikely that Murphy will garner significant interest from NFL teams as a quarterback prospect, but he certainly is on the radar as an intriguing athlete following his sensational play against USC. Murphy accounted for 244 yards of total offense in a 37-31 win over USC while befuddling the Trojans with his electric running style. The 6-2, 213-pound senior was a magician with the ball in his hands and flashed the elusiveness that scouts desire in playmakers on the perimeter. If he continues to put up terrific numbers as a ball carrier directing the Eagles' dynamic offense, Murphy will get an opportunity to play at the next level as an offensive specialist.
WR Demarcus Robinson, Florida: If not for the supreme effort of Robinson, the Gators might've suffered their first lost to Kentucky since 1986. However, the sophomore receiver was outstanding as the primary target in the passing game. Robinson finished the day with 15 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he came up with several critical receptions when the game was hanging in the balance, including a nine-yard touchdown grab on fourth-and-7 in the first overtime. With back-to-back 100-yard games under his belt, Robinson is already starting to create a buzz in NFL circles.
LB Shaq Thompson, Washington: For the second straight week, Thompson makes the list based on a phenomenal performance that showcased his game-changing skills as a disruptive defender. The junior standout produced two defensive scores (52-yard fumble return touchdown and a 36-yard interception return) and added four tackles in a spirited defensive effort by the Huskies. Thompson also added 16 yards on three carries during spot duty as a running back. There are plenty of game-changers in college football, but Thompson is quickly becoming one of the premier prospects in the game.
DT Anthony Zettel, Penn State: Scouts love disruptive defenders along the line, particularly if they are athletic defensive tackles with strength and quickness. After notching three tackles for loss and a sack in the Nittany Lions' 13-10 win over Rutgers, Zettel should command a lot of attention in NFL circles as a versatile defensive lineman (Zettel moved from defensive end to defensive tackle in the spring after tallying 4.0 sacks in 2013). The 6-4, 275-pounder has been a dominant force at the point of attack, and his ability to play inside or on the edges could make him an attractive option down the road.
LB Paul Dawson, TCU: Scouts value productive players who make a legitimate impact when they are on the field. Thus, Dawson's performance over the weekend will excite scouts looking for active defenders on the second level. The standout linebacker recorded 15 tackles, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a breakup in the Horned Frogs' win over Minnesota.
Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, USC: After receiving kudos for crafting a solid game plan that slowed down Stanford a week ago, Wilcox deserves criticism for failing to slow down Boston College's running game in a stunning upset loss. The Trojans surrendered 452 rushing yards and were unable to slow down a variety of option plays on the perimeter. While some of the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the Trojans' defenders, the fact that USC was unable to find an answer falls on the defensive architect. With several Pac-12 teams capable of executing zone-read plays from a spread option attack, Wilcox will need to get back to the drawing board to craft better schemes to handle college football's most difficult play to defend on the perimeter.
QB Will Gardner, Louisville: A few weeks after leading the Cardinals to a big win in their conference opener, Gardner delivered a dud on the road in 23-21 loss to Virginia. The sophomore connected on only 41 percent of his throws and tossed a pair of costly interceptions. In addition, Gardner took two sacks and failed to help the offense find a rhythm against the Cavaliers. Given the importance of quarterback play in Bobby Petrino's offense, Gardner's disappointing performance played a huge role in the team's loss on Saturday.