With college football's Week 6 in the books, we're at the midway point of college football's regular season. Here's a look at some of the players that have helped or hurt themselves the most with their play in the first half of the 2016 campaign.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Jackson has taken college football by storm this season, and NFL executives like what they see from the true sophomore. The Heisman favorite is certainly the player everyone wants to watch. He leads the FBS in scoring (28 total TDs in 5 games). Jackson shows excellent speed and agility in the open field as well as enough toughness to get that last yard. As for arm talent, Jackson has a cannon. He can get the ball downfield in a hurry and stick throws into tight windows. The sophomore isn't consistent with his accuracy, but he could improve in that area with time.
Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: Texas A&M senior safety Justin Evans deserves mention here, as he has worked himself into the first-round conversation. But Hooker has made the bigger leap, going from playing 25 snaps on defense in 2015 to a likely all-conference pick as a redshirt sophomore. Hooker is tied for the FBS lead with four interceptions, and he's made a couple of highlight-reel plays for the picks. He played just two years of high school football, but has proven himself a willing tackler and supreme threat to make plays on the ball.
Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida: Although scouts and SEC receivers already knew about Wilson's talents, he has stepped into a bigger role with the Gators this season. He's proving that he's more than worthy of the challenge. In fact, one NFL executive believes he's the best cornerback in college football. Playing beside the more highly regarded Vernon Hargreaves III and Teez Tabor in past seasons, Wilson's play has gone under the radar nationally. But now, the 6-foot-1, 213-pound defender's length, physical style and ball skills are gaining the notice they deserve.
Vita Vea, DT, Washington: The Huskies have several juniors that are getting national recognition for the team's hot start, including linebackers Azeem Victor and Joe Mathis, safety Budda Baker and cornerback Sidney Jones. But Vea, a redshirt sophomore, has taken the largest step forward in making his name known to scouts. The 6-foot-5, 332-pound Vea is a load inside, standing up double teams to hold the line. His movement skills are remarkable, as he can stop-start to corral ball carriers in space like someone 75 pounds lighter.
Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU: Williams' career in Provo started off well, as he put up more than 2,000 yards in first two seasons with the team. But injuries and a suspension short-circuited his 2014 season, and he missed the entire 2015 campaign rehabbing his right knee. Williams ranks third in the FBS with 114 rushing yards a game, and his 10 rushing TDs rank second to Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (14). One week after a career day against Toledo (286 yards, 5 touchdowns), the senior back helped the Cougars beat Michigan State on the road with 165 yards and 2 scores on Saturday. Williams has a long-stride run style, somewhat reminiscent of Eric Dickerson's. He can side-step to find the hole and runs with lean as well as strength to get through tackle attempts.
Zach Banner, OT, USC: There was hope that Banner's offseason weight loss would help him maximize his potential. However, he still lacked the lateral agility to handle better pass rushers through the first four weeks of the year. Now he's dealing with an ankle injury, which has kept him out of the past 2 games. If the injury lingers, it will make it even more difficult for him to handle the outside rush through the rest of the year. Unless he comes back and dominates in the second half of the season, NFL teams aren't going to project him as more than an average starting right tackle.
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin: Clement averaged 7 yards a carry and scored 16 times as the backup to Melvin Gordon during his first two years with the Badgers. In 2015, however, he struggled to stay on the field due to a sports hernia. He was cited for disorderly conduct last fall that, which didn't warm scouts to him. Hoping to start anew in his senior year, Clement has again failed to stay healthy, with hamstring and ankle injuries limiting his carries, and his explosiveness on those carries. He's averaging fewer than 4 yards a carry, and has one catch for a loss of three yards.
Devonte Fields, DE/OLB, Louisville: One year ago, Fields was one of the most intimidating pass rushers in the country, racking up 11 sacks. This season, he's managed just 2 sacks (none in the past two games). While he's an excellent athlete, his lack of strength at the point of attack made Fields ineffective against Clemson left tackle Mitch Hyatt in Week 5. In addition, his 2 sacks are his only plays behind the line of scrimmage this season; he had 22.5 tackles for loss in 2015. Fields must start making more impact plays if teams are to consider him an elite prospect.