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By Tim Bullen
Cameron Ward, Washington State (21 comp / 27 att / 330 yds / 4 TD)
A week after trouncing Colorado State (the same Colorado State that went to double overtime against Colorado this past weekend), the unranked Washington State Cougars hosted the then #19 ranked Wisconsin Badgers and defeated them 31-22.
Cameron Ward as a future prospect is an intriguing one. He spent two seasons at Incarnate Word in Texas before transferring to Washington State in 2022, where he had a 64% completion percentage on 591 dropbacks, throwing for 3,228 yards, 28 TDs, and 9 INTs - pretty good for any quarterback's first season after such a massive leap in competition. So far this year he’s thrown 9 TD 0 INT and 989 yards with a 72.5% completion percentage. He's knocked off #19 Wisconsin, the Cougars are the 7th-ranked scoring offense in the nation (145), and now enjoy the recognition they well deserve after being ranked #21.
Ward is a fun athlete at the position who fits the modern moment of the game. He has a good arm that can accurately place passes to an array of locations on the field. Their offense attacks vertically and horizontally, putting defenders in conflict with motion, switch routes, and crossers. Their offense is operating as one of college football's best, dialing up huge chunks of yardage almost at will due to the combination of Cameron Ward and 27-year-old play caller, Ben Arbuckle - whose story is a good read that is well worth your time.
Audric Estime, Notre Dame (20 att / 176 yds / 1 TD)
The 4-star recruit from Montvale, NJ, Estime is a power back with the speed and quickness to break long touchdown runs against secondary defenders, as is evident by his 80-yard breakaway touchdown vs. NC State where he was reportedly clocked at 20 MPH and left secondary defenders in his dust. He’s not an elite blazer but his speed is excellent for his size and can capitalize on far from a semi-truck that requires a long runway to get up to speed.
At 5'11" and 227 lb, he's very similar to Leonard Fournette in terms of size and has a lot of similarities to him in terms of his speed and athleticism as well. As a well-rounded and versatile back, he hits the hole without hesitation and with light feet, demonstrating excellent quickness for his size through a variety of creases. Alternatively, when a run play requires more patience for development, he presses the line keeping his feet and knees chopping and his pad level low, maintaining a ready position to burst through any opening that develops in the blocking front.
He's an intelligent runner who has the athletic skills to solve a variety of problems at the line and through the box which is the reason why he is the nations leading rusher. The one thing I probably enjoy most when watching him play is the touch of grace and beauty to many of the elusive events that punctuate many of his carries.
Malik Nabers, LSU (13 tgt / 13 rec / 239 yds / 2 TD)
Another LSU Tiger makes their way into the 2023 Star Search, but this time it's after a truly monster game vs Mississippi State. Standing at 6’0 190 lbs, the 4-star recruit from Youngsville, LA found himself standing wide open on many of his routes after manipulating the defensive backs into knots. He won deep, he won to the sideline, and there literally wasn't a target that he didn't catch. It was as if Jerry Rice turned back the clocks and chose to be a bayou Tiger. Not all of his yardage came easy, as he turned in the massive day running crossers, outbreaking routes, and verticals, All game long, it was as if he were a cat playing with a mouse and there wasn't a single thing that MSU could do to stop it. He plays with a nose for the first down marker when shy of the sticks and has all the athleticism, speed, and quickness to be a dangerous big-play player.
Michael Harrison, Colorado (7 tgt / 7 rec / 76 yds / 2 TD)
In the most televised late-night college football game of all time (9.3 million viewers), Colorado v Colorado State took an unexpected turn when defender Harry Blackburn of Colorado State laid into two-way phenom Travis Hunter along the sidelines, sending him to the hospital with a lacerated liver. In the heated match-up that was drenched in tension all during the week leading up, the kickoff did little to alleviate the pressure and gave the sense that the whole thing could boil over into a sideline-emptying brawl that the game of football, pro or college, had never bore witness to in all its time.
Within all of the chaos, personal fouls, and chippy play, the Colorado offense found an unexpected hero in the form of Michael Harrison, a former walk-on wide receiver turned tight end. Despite having only four catches for 37 yards in his first two games, Harrison stepped up when it mattered most. He hauled in an impressive 7 receptions for 76 yards, marking a breakout performance with his first two touchdowns of the season. Harrison's impact was particularly felt in the late stages of the game, as Shedeur Sanders consistently looked his way in critical moments. Their connection on key passes, including a game-tying two-point conversion and a game-winning overtime touchdown, showcased Harrison's emergence as a reliable target. His clutch play played a pivotal role in securing a memorable victory for the Buffaloes, earning him well-deserved praise from his teammates and coach Prime.