#20. Clint Ratkovich, RB/FB, Northern Illinois (Western Illinois), 6’0” 220 lbs.
Ratkovich is such an x-factor as a player that can contribute in so many ways. He was a consummate leader that led by example in everything that he did. He was often used as a fullback/h-back at Western Illinois being utilized as a blocker, runner and heavily as a receiver. He was also very involved in special teams and actually took a few kick returns. Ratkovich was named to the Paul Hornung Award Watch List this season being one of the most versatile players in college football. We’ll just have to wait and see how the Huskies use him this year.
#19. Anthony Koclanakis, LB, Colorado State (Murray State), 6’0” 226 lbs.
Koclanakis has a great motor and good awareness as a player. His final season at Murray State was a great one being named First Team All Ohio Valley Conference while racking up 124 tackles, 63 of which were solo. He didn’t spend too much time on special teams at Murray State. Although, I look for him to be a key player on special teams from the start for the Rams and work his way into the rotation among the linebackers.
#18. Josh Hayes, CB, Virginia (North Dakota State), 5’11” 185 lbs.
North Dakota State has been so successful over the past several years that there’s not too much for Hayes to prove at the FCS level anymore. Hayes moves into a situation with the Cavaliers where he may end up the starter at the nickel in the slot. He’s a very feisty competitor and good tackler which suits him at that position. Hayes the Florida native is a big playmaker with great ball skills.
#17. Kenneth Kirby, OL, Georgia Tech (Norfolk State), 6’5” 280 lbs.
Georgia Tech’s offensive line is quite young, and one of the biggest attributes that Kirby brings to the table is experience. He started all 32 games that he played for the Spartans and was named First Team All-MEAC in 2019. Kirby’s experience has mainly been at LT, and it seems that he will need to switch positions as a Yellow Jacket either playing RT or perhaps coming inside to play guard. Nevertheless, his drive and effort will reward him with some starts this season. So watch out.
#16. Liam Dobson, OG, Texas State (Maine), 6’2” 340 lbs.
Dobson was selected 3rd overall in the 2021 CFL Draft to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Yet, for now, he has taken his talents to San Marcos, TX to play for the Bobcats. Dobson has natural power and is a mauler in the run game. He fits very well in gap schemes. We can expect him playing a fair share of snaps this season.
# 15. Darion Dunn, CB, Texas (McNeese State), 6’1” 192 lbs.
Dunn is a remarkable defensive back. He was a highly sought after transfer that had originally committed to NC State before flipping to Texas. He had a great season in 2019, hauling in 5 Ints and landing on the 2021 Senior Bowl Watch List. Dunn is a ballhawk who can make great plays. The Longhorn secondary is very strong with players like Josh Thompson, D’Shawn Jamison and BJ Foster. Dunn is a competitor and will work his way into the mix making plays and maybe even get a few starts before the season is finished.
#14. DaRon Bland, CB, Fresno State (Sacramento State), 6’0” 205 lbs.
Bland is an extraordinary athlete and adds immediate depth to Fresno State’s entire secondary. He shows an innate ability to use his instincts to make a play on the ball. He’s a confident tackler who plays well in man-to-man coverages. Bland is also a well-established track athlete who was successful in high school and college. Some of his personal bests include 10.73 in the 100m, 6′ 6.25″ in the high jump, 24′ 0.5″ in the long jump and 47′ 3.5″-triple jump. That athleticism translates very well to football in his quickness and the way he is able to jump routes.
#13. Kade Parmelly, G/C, Duke (Abilene Christian), 6’2” 308 lbs.
Duke really struggled with injuries last year on their offensive line, and bringing in Parmelly really helps to insure that depth as he has the versatility to play either center or guard. I also love Parmelly’s character. He was a fantastic leader and a well-respected team captain at Abilene Christian. He’s also a very good communicator who remains positive while dealing with adversity. He’ll be a terrific teammate for the Blue Devils.
#12. Eric Wilson, OG, Penn State (Harvard), 6’3” 310 lbs.
Penn State boosts their depth on the offensive line adding Wilson into the fold. He is an exceptional young man and good athlete. He has good tape using his mobility and strength to finish blocks. Wilson displayed his raw physicality early on as a high school thrower in track & field, having personal bests of 57’ 4.5” in the shot put as well as 165’ 5” in the discus.
#11. Zaire Mitchell-Paden, TE, Florida Atlantic (Notre Dame College-OH), 6’5” 267 lbs.
Mitchell-Paden is a jack of all trades, and his grit really makes him one of my favorite players to watch. To start out, you have to love his size, having 34 ⅛” arms and 10” hands which is fairly ideal for a TE. As a blocker, he helped pave the way for Jaleel McLaughlin who had back-to-back 2000+ yard seasons at Notre Dame College. Speaking of blocks, Mitchell-Paden has done a great job on special teams having a blocked punt in 2018, and he can also be used as a long snapper. On top of all that he’s a good target and solid receiver in the passing game. FAU will surely find many ways to use him.
#10. Jack Badovinac, OG, Illinois (Colgate), 6’2” 290 lbs.
The Illini have gone to the FCS well once again to retool their interior offensive line. Last season, they brought in Blake Jeresaty from Wofford, and this year made the call for Badovinac. He comes into a veteran offensive line as the starter at RG. The main things that he brings is consistency and discipline. He was a 3-time Patriot League First Team player and a solid fixture on the offensive line. He brings his experience of 33 starts to Illinois.
#9. EJ Jenkins, WR/TE, South Carolina (St. Francis-PA), 6’7” 235 lbs.
Jenkins looks more like a basketball player than a football player with his freakish size which is one of the reasons why I chose to designate him as a WR/TE. Truth be told, he was a standout basketball player in high school that averaged 21.5 points and 12 rebounds his senior year. One thing is for certain, if you throw the ball within his vicinity, he’s bound to come down with it given his massive wingspan. The Gamecocks also chose to bring in Jenkins’s former QB in Jason Brown who is currently the backup. Although, if given the opportunity, I’m sure the Brown/Jenkins match-up will work wonders. They’ve been linked to one another ever since being part of the 2017 St. Francis recruiting class.
#8. Bryce Nunnelly, WR, Western Michigan (UT-Chattanooga), 6’1” 190 lbs.
Everyone that I have talked to at Chattanooga has raved about Nunnelly’s work ethic and attention to detail. He was always precise in his routes and a very reliable target. Nunnelly is slated to be the #1 receiver for the Broncos. He has good speed to get open and also the ability to make defenders miss in space. I expect him to be one of the top receivers in the MAC this season.
#7. Jaquan Amos, CB, Iowa State (Villanova), 6’0” 190 lbs.
Amos was a very steady defender for Villanova ever since coming in as a freshman. He has natural speed to run with the #1 receiver, and he’s also not afraid to come down and lay the wood on somebody. His excellent cover skills make him a key piece in the Cyclone’s secondary. Their overall defense is expected to be one of the best in college football this season.
#6. Qwynnterrio Cole, S, Louisville (Alcorn State), 6’2” 190 lbs.
Cole was very close to turning pro this past season and even had an invite to the 2021 East-West Shrine Bowl. Even though he was one of the highest-rated safeties in the FCS, he ultimately decided to take his talents to the ACC for Louisville. Cole was a 2-time First Team All-SWAC as well as a 2-time HBCU All-American. He’s a big-time playmaker with the ability to play anywhere in the secondary. With players like Rodjay Burns and Marlon Character moving on to the pros, it sets up Cole as the starting strong safety.
#5. Jack Gibbens, LB, Minnesota (Abilene Christian), 6’3” 240 lbs
Gibbens brings so much to the table as a player. Aside from having freakish size to play either inside or outside in most systems, he’s also a very smart and vocal team leader. He also does a great job of patrolling the middle of the field as an effective run stopper. He also has the length to bat down balls in the passing game and will occasionally come down with an Int. Gibbens fills in the missing piece of P.J. Fleck’s Gopher defense that will help defend against the powerful offenses of the Big Ten.
# 4. Samori Toure, WR, Nebraska (Montana), 6’2” 190 lbs.
Toure was named to the 2021 Senior Bowl Watch List after an outstanding All-American season in 2019. He finished the season setting a school record in receiving yards with 1495 on 87 catches. He also had a record-setting 303 receiving yards in a bludgeoning playoff game against Southeastern Louisiana. Toure adds a great piece to the Nebraska offense as a reliable slot receiver. He should quickly become a favorite target of Adrian Martinez this season.
# 3. Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky (Houston Baptist), 6’1” 215 lbs.
Zappe is slated to start for the Hilltoppers this fall season, and if he brings anything to the table it’s his ability to chuck the ball. He had 5 career games of over 400 yards passing and went toe-to-toe with Texas Tech in the 2020 season, almost pulling off an upset victory with 567 total passing yards. He also brings to the Hilltoppers a few of his old targets from Houston Baptist including brothers Jerreth and Josh Sterns, as well as Ben Ratzlaff. Their teamwork and chemistry should immediately pay off in Western Kentucky’s offense.
# 2. Trae Barry, TE, Boston College (Jacksonville State), 6’6” 245 lbs.
Barry has been a huge offensive weapon at Jacksonville State and transferring to Boston College can do nothing more than improve his overall ceiling as an NFL prospect. He’s not really known for being a blocker at this point and has mainly been a huge WR on the field. As a former FCS All-American, he’s primed to make an instant impact for Boston College. His ability to explode off the line stems from his high school days of being an excellent track & field athlete performing the high jump (6’6”) and throwing the javelin (187’5”).
# 1. John Ridgeway, DT, Arkansas (Illinois State), 6’5” 325 lbs.
Ridgeway is a phenomenal DT with great size and potential. He was by far the best athlete on the Illinois State defense constantly disrupting plays and often being the player tallying up tackles which isn’t typical of a NT. Playing in the SEC is certainly where he belongs because he’s one of the best prospects at his position. Look for this former high school state wrestling champion to hear his name called early in the 2022 NFL Draft.