The upcoming NCAA season has not even began but there are already a handful of small schoolers that NFL teams are heavily recruiting. Last year, guys like Nasir Adderley and Khalen Saunders were heavily recruited from day but but a guy like Tytus Howard showed up later and ended up being the top small school pick. This year scouts are talking about these players already.
Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois University – Defensive back Jeremy Chinn was the only member of the Southern Illinois University football team to crack the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team. A three-year starter and preseason All-MVFC pick, Chinn started seven games at safety and two at cornerback, before missing the final two games due to injury. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound junior led the team with three interceptions and 95 interception return yards. He recorded a team-high seven pass breakups and was second in tackles with 55. He also forced two fumbles and blocked a field goal.
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir Rhyne – The hard-hitting safety has won the Ronnie Lott Award twice in his career. He stands at 6020 and is a player who will make you pay coming across the middle. I had an NFL scout call me yesterday and tell me the kid has a draft grade. Dugger is a solid player and will need to finish strong, but he is the top-rated Division 2 player on many small school rankings. Dugger has scouts interested and I expect him to have a huge senior season.
James Robinson, RB, Illinois State – The Illinois High School Association record holder in rushing yards (9,045) and rushing touchdowns (158), Robinson also received fleeting scholarship interest from Iowa as he worked to qualify academically to play Division I football. Did you just read that? The kid had 9,000 yards in high school. He is the closer for Illinois State as well. He is the best running back right now in the FCS and NFL teams are paying attention right now.
Dante Olson, LB, Montana – The 6030 linebacker is one of the most highly decorated players in the country. He has made almost ever small school ranking list at linebacker, and NFL teams are very interested in his ability to get to the ball carrier. Last season he had a huge year finishing in the top three for the Buck Buchanan Award which is given to the best defensive player in the FCS. Olson is also a decorated student as well, earning a two-time Academic All-Big Sky selection with a 4.0 GPA. In his time away from the football field, he also mentors a class of underprivileged kids in Northern California. Scouts love this kid.
Bryce Sterk, DE, Montana State – Sterk blew up last season after transferring in from Washington. The former Huskies defensive end led the Big Sky Conference in tackles for loss and sacks per game, averaging an impressive 1.6 and 0.83 respectively in just six games. NFL teams are talking about him already as a mid to late round guy. He is 6040 and super athletic, and that is what NFL teams are in love with. He can play Outside backer and defensive end.
Charlie Taumoepeau, H-Back/TE, Portland State – After a breakout sophomore season in 2017 where he caught 45 passes for 673 yards and three touchdowns, Taumoepeau showed just how good of a tight end he can be at the start of last year. Against FBS opponents Nevada and Oregon, he had eight receptions for 255 yards and four TDs. Taumoepeau battled some injuries later in the year, but still finished 2018 with 28 catches for 580 yards and five touchdowns. He showed his speed on a 75-yard touchdown reception. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder improved from his 2017 Big Sky All-Conference Second Team honor to a 2018 First Team selection and Second Team All-American honors from HERO Sports, STATS and Phil Steele. Scouts love his ability to catch the ball, I expect a monster senior season from him.
Alize Ward, S, Stephen F. Austin – This kid is a sleeper but I have already talked to six teams about him. He is a San Diego native and teams love his abilities on the field. He is athletic enough to be a return man as well. He finished last season with 58 tackles, 2 pass breakups, and 1 interception. NFL teams like him because of his athletic ability. He is a guy to keep an eye on.
Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton – A 6060 tight end with tremendous hands. He is one of the best tight ends in the entire draft and he will fly up draft boards with a huge senior season. He was named Captain by his teammates for the upcoming season. He led the team in receiving with 604 yards and 41 receptions last season and had nine receiving touchdowns, also leading the Flyers on the season. This year will be a huge season for him.
Nasir Player, DL, East Tennessee State – Player has 12 sacks in the last two years, and while his Sophomore campaign was his huge year, he only played in 9 games last year. He still racked up 38 tackles and 5 sacks, the year before he had 67 tackles and 7 sacks. This kid is a solid player and has everything the NFL teams want. He has size (6050), weight (278 pounds) and production (12 sacks). NFL teams are very well versed on Player’s abilities.