Three-Point Stance: Three-stars, Heisman finalists, 2021 classes
National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with some key former three-stars to watch in the college football playoff, his case for each Heisman finalist and some teams to watch between now and the first Wednesday in February.
FACT OR FICTION: Will Muschamp would fit at Michigan as DC
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1. THREE-STARS IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
When the College Football Playoffs start on Friday, all the attention will be on players like Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Najee Harris — all former four- and five-stars. But there are many former three-stars to keep an eye on as well. Keep an eye out for these standouts:
OL Deonte Brown — Brown has been around for a long time for Alabama and has emerged as arguably the most consistent lineman they have. He doesn’t have the flash or size of Alex Leatherwood but he’s key to the run and screen game.
TE Miller Forristall — Alabama doesn’t need to rely on the tight end much but remember when OJ Howard blew up a few years ago in the playoff? Forristall doesn’t not have Howard’s athleticism, not even close, but he’s a reliable weapon.
DT DJ Dale — Dale is a plugger on somewhat of a no-name Alabama defense compared to years past, but he’s key to stuffing the run and making the quarterback feel uncomfortable in the pocket.
QB Ian Book — Book makes smart decisions and may not have the flash of the other quarterbacks in the playoff, but he makes some key plays with his feet to keep drives alive.
RB Kyren Williams — A three-star athlete coming out of high school, Williams has found his home at running back and is the heart and soul of the offense along with that offensive line.
WR Ben Skowronek — He is a transfer from Northwestern, but that doesn’t make Skowronek any higher rated out of high school. He has size and great hands and is a matchup problem.
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — His ability to get after the passer is key and he closes so well he’s constantly disrupting plays. He’s gone from raw to potentially the first round.
RB Travis Etienne — Etienne was under ranked out of high school as a late bloomer who just started to hit his stride and has now become one of the best weapons in college football.
LB Baylon Spector — This seems typical of Clemson linebackers who are hard-nosed tackling machines scouted well by the coaches.
S Nolan Turner — OK, I’m cheating. Turner was a two-star in high school and now he’s one of the best safeties in the country.
LB James Skalski — His leadership overcomes any athletic issues and he always brings the lumber.
WR Chris Olave — The California wide receiver wasn’t as highly-regarded as many out west in his class, but he’s become the key to the Buckeyes passing offense.
OL Thayer Munford — He is arguably the best offensive lineman in the Big Ten and has developed so well from a raw prospect.
LB Tuf Borland — Borland is a downhill guy who loves to hit but doesn’t get enough appreciation for his work in pass defense.
DB Marcus Hooker — After his brother Malik became a first-rounder, Marcus is following along nicely as a kid who was more athlete than football player in high school.
2. MAKING THE CASE FOR EACH HEISMAN FINALIST
Let me put on my lawyer hat here for a moment and make the case for each of the four Heisman finalists.
QB Kyle Trask, Florida — Allow me to introduce into evidence the statistics for my client, Mr. Trask. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow had what many are calling the best year for a QB in college football history last year. But through 11 games my client has more passing yards, touchdowns and fewer interceptions than Mr. Burrow and he played an all-SEC schedule. Don’t let three losses, none of them his fault, taint your judgment here. There is no one close in the stats department.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson — I will defer to Mr. Lawrence’s coach, Dabo Swinney, who said that the Heisman Trophy trust should want its name associated with Trevor Lawrence more than Lawrence would want his name associated with them. Mr. Lawrence has tremendous passing numbers despite missing two games to COVID and played a big part nationally in the push to even have a college football season. He doesn’t get to throw the ball as much as others in this room and he shouldn’t be punished for that. The Heisman should go to the best player in college football. Trevor Lawrence is that player.
WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama — My first point to you is that this essentially isn’t a quarterback award that sometimes goes to a running back. Don’t punish Mr. Smith for being a wide receiver. He led the nation in catches and yards and is leading the Power Five with 17 touchdowns. He is clearly the best player on the No. 1 team and it’s about time a wide receiver was recognized.
QB Mac Jones, Alabama — Mr. Jones may not be flashy and you may think he has all these weapons at his disposal, but don’t let that fool you. He leads all quarterbacks in completion percentage and overall QB rating and, without him, Mr. Smith wouldn’t even be here. He’s the best player on the best team.
3. FIVE PROGRAMS TO WATCH DOWN THE 2021 STRETCH
Recruiting isn't over for the class of 2021. And here are five programs to keep an eye on down the stretch who could really use a good finish.
USC — The Trojans could land DE Korey Foreman, the No. 3 prospect in the country, and former LSU linebacker commitment Raesjon Davis. And if they keep Ceyair Wright home as well, this will be a very nice class.
Oklahoma -- It all comes down to Tristan Leigh. The Sooners missed on five-stars Emeka Egbuka, Bryce Foster and Camar Wheaton and it will make for a rough finish if they lose out on Leigh, too.
Oregon — J.T. Tuimoloau would be an amazing addition to this Oregon class. Most have him headed to Ohio State or Alabama but if he’s kept out West by Mario Cristobal, it would cap an amazing class.
Florida — Terrion Arnold is extremely important for the Gators as is Leigh and they need to close strong after a bit of a whimper down the stretch to the Early Signing Period.
Texas — Running back LJ Johnson is needed badly in this class despite Bijan Robinson’s success. This is about perception and Texas needs some serious in state wins.