With Week 2 of college football in the books, it's time to take note of who saw their stock rise and fall based on the weekend's action.
LB Shaq Thompson, Washington: NFL scouts have been buzzing about Thompson's dynamic abilities since he stepped into the spotlight as a standout freshman for the Huskies. The hype is certainly growing after the 6-foot-1, 228-pound junior delivered spectacular production on both sides of the ball during a surprisingly close battle against an FCS opponent. Thompson tallied 14 tackles, a sack and one tackle for loss, while also chipping in 66 rushing yards on three carries as a spot player at running back. Given his effectiveness as a two-way threat, Thompson deserves a mention on a list of top performers.
DT Leonard Williams, USC: The Trojans' star defender made quite an impact on the game despite nursing a gimpy ankle that limited his mobility and explosiveness. Williams tallied 11 tackles, one sack and a tackle for loss against a physical Stanford offensive line that's as good as any in the country. Although Williams couldn't sustain his disruptive presence for the entire game, he certainly flashed enough dominance in key spots to help the Trojans engineer an early-season upset on the road.
QB Vernon Adams, Eastern Washington: When I pegged Adams as my "Bucky's Beast" on Friday, I expected him to have a big effort against Washington. But I didn't anticipate the 6-0, 200-pound junior emerging as the most dominant player on the field. Yet, Adams was an unstoppable force from the pocket on the way to accounting for 491 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns in a 59-52 loss to the Huskies. He picked apart Washington with a host of pinpoint throws and kept the Eagles in the game with his timely playmaking. Although Adams lacks the ideal physical dimensions to pique the interest of NFL scouts, his production and effectiveness running the Eagles' high-powered offense will keep his name in the mix over the next few years.
WR KD Cannon, Baylor: The freshman sensation has certainly lived up to the hype that accompanied his status as a five-star recruit. Cannon has already established himself as a legitimate speedster on the perimeter, while also exhibiting the explosive running skills that make him a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. With six catches for 223 yards and three scores against Northwestern State, it won't be long before NFL scouts start paying attention to his impact as a playmaker on the outside.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Virginia Tech: The Hokies' defensive wizard has been lauded for years for his brilliant game planning, but his work against the Buckeyes will go down as one of his best. Foster completely throttled Ohio State's offense with an aggressive plan that featured a number of blitzes and pressures designed to harass J.T Barrett within the pocket. The ultra-aggressive tactics not only disrupted the young passer's rhythm, but it helped the Hokies hold the Buckeyes to only 108 rushing yards on the night. Given the importance of forcing an opponent into a one-dimensional approach, Foster's blitz-heavy game plan was the key to the Hokies' win.
QB Devin Gardner, Michigan: The Wolverines' senior quarterback teases NFL scouts with his size, athleticism and talent, but it's hard to endorse his pro prospects when he continues to be a turnover machine from the pocket. Gardner committed four turnovers against Notre Dame and couldn't find a way to guide the Wolverines to a score. Sure, Gardner didn't get a lot of help from his teammates, but NFL evaluators expect elite quarterback prospects to find a way to get things done when others are struggling. While it's not fair to pin all of the Wolverines' struggles on Gardner, the fact that he wasn't able to turn around his team's fortunes in a big game will lead some scouts to downgrade him on his overall performance.
Big Ten football: The Big Ten has been fighting for respect as one of the elite conferences in college football, but its argument loses some credibility after watching the conference lose three marquee matchups (Michigan State-Oregon; Virginia Tech-Ohio State and Michigan-Notre Dame) and a pair of games (Northern Illinois-Northwestern; Central Michigan-Purdue) to MAC opponents on Saturday. Not to mention Nebraska's miraculous win against McNeese State that took a Herculean effort from Ameer Abdullah on a "catch and run" to seal the game for the Cornhuskers. Thus, the conference looks nothing like a premier league that deserves to claim one of four spots in the College Football Playoff.