Also in this week's notes: A quarterback on the rise in the Midwest, several notable injuries to prominent NFL draft prospects, a mammoth 400-pound offensive lineman, plus the latest NFL Draft news and notes.
2018 NFL DRAFT GENERATES RECORD ECONOMIC IMPACT: The NFL announced that the 2018 NFL Draft held in Dallas generated a record of $125.2 million in economic impact during the three-day event.
More than 200,000 fans attended the festivities, with 463,000 fans from all 50 states registering for free tickets online.
These numbers prove once again why the NFL Draft is the second-largest sporting event in the Unites States (the first being the Super Bowl) and should be music to the ears of Nashville city officials, home of the 2019 draft.
STANLEY SHOWS OFF NFL POWER TOOLS: Iowa junior QB Nate Stanley (6-3, 242, 4.86, #4) was named National Player of the Week for his six-touchdown performance against Indiana last week and is in the midst of the best three-game stretch of his career, completing 67 percent of his passes, while guiding the Hawkeyes to a 5-1 record.
In addition to his improved accuracy this season, Stanley has also done a fantastic job of getting rid of the ball quickly and rarely takes a sack. The team captain has wonderfully operated the Iowa pro-style offense, showing great command in the huddle, excellent pocket presence and the ability to roll out and throw on the run. He has been very effective on play-action.
His draft stock has gone up since the start of the season, as pro scouts have recognized an improved version of Stanley, who has done a fine job working the middle of the field and flashing a NFL-caliber arm. He'll be tested against a tough Maryland team this week before a crucial Big Ten showdown against Penn State.
Stanley currently projects as a Day 2 selection, so it'll be interesting to see what type of decision he makes at the end of the season. Should he declare early for the draft, there will be plenty of teams interested in his services.
BUSTED, BRUISED & BROKEN: Ole Miss redshirt sophomore WR D.K. Metcalf (6-3, 230, 4.52, #14) suffered a scary neck injury against Arkansas, which will keep him out for the remainder of the year.
Head coach Matt Luke announced that Metcalf, who had 26 catches for 569 receiving yards and a team-leading five touchdowns, will likely require surgery but that the injury was not considered to be career threatening.
Viewed as a potential first-round pick prior to the injury, the talented Metcalf still has two seasons of eligibility remaining, so stay tuned to see how this situation develops.
BUSTED, BRUISED & BROKEN II: It was a tough week for injuries, as Appalachian State was also dealt some bad news with the announcement that senior RB Jalin Moore (5-10, 207, 4.54, #5) would miss the remainder of the season due to a fractured, dislocated right ankle, effectively ending his Mountaineers career.
Coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, expectations were high for Moore entering his final year. Moore, a strong, compact, downhill runner who possesses great vision and runs with excellent pad level, seems best suited for a zone-blocking scheme at the next level.
His tremendous athleticism has been well documented, as Moore has tested off the charts with a 38.5-inch vertical jump and 11-1 broad jump -- he had been timed in the sub 4.4-range prior to the injury. He is expected to rehab the next three months, which means there is still a slight possibility that he'll be able to compete in Indianapolis.
A projected mid- to late-round draft prospect, his pro day could make or break his draft fate.
FUTURE WATCH: The youth movement in Minnesota is in full effect under head coach PJ Fleck. Meet Australian-born, true freshman OT Daniel Faalele (6'9, 400, 5.00, #78), the Gophers new starting right tackle who is a ginormous man at 6-foot-9, 400 pounds!
Minnesota initially planned to redshirt him this season due to his lack of playing experience, but his rapid development, along with the Gophers' porous offensive line, resulted in his first career start against Ohio State. The powerful, agile Faalele more than held his own against one of the top defensive line units in the nation, flashing his brute strength and quick feet.
It has been a remarkable transition for Faalele, who began playing football when he moved to the United States during his junior year of high school. He didn't play in his first season; he just practiced and adjusted to the new sport, which was completely foreign to him. By the end of his senior year, Faalele had 20 Division I scholarship offers.
We have never seen a NFL Draft prospect this big and tall, so the evaluation of Faalele feels like a possible case study for future athletes, as players continue to get bigger, faster, stronger. He is certainly going to be an intriguing player worth watching as he develops.
SMALL SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT: There's an old saying that, "If you're good enough, the NFL will find you." While D-II football is rarely recognized for producing professional prospects, there's a flashy cornerback at Washburn University who is drawing plenty of NFL eyeballs.
Senior CB Corey Ballentine (5-11, 204, 4.45, #1) brings great speed and athleticism to the position but has also excelled as a special teams demon, averaging 26.5 yards per kick return over the past two seasons. He also has three blocked kicks this season and led the Ichabods in special teams tackles (10) as a sophomore.
A dual-sport collegiate star, Ballentine also runs track, a sport he has played since the fourth grade and which has contributed to his phenomenal conditioning. In football, he made the switch from safety, where he did a tremendous job playing in the box, to cornerback, which seems to be a more natural fit and allows him to use his athleticism.
A solid tackler, Ballentine plays physically and persevered through difficult times as a freshman, when he contemplated quitting football. Praised by his coaches for being smart and humble, the NFL will be happy that he decided to stick it through and now he's in line to be rewarded for all of his hard work over the past four years.
ETC.: Clemson redshirt senior QB Kelly Bryant (6-3, 220, 4.64, #2) who announced earlier this season that he would transfer, had a visit with North Carolina and is schedule to visit Arkansas, Louisville and Missouri. ... BYU has benched senior QB Tanner Mangum (6-2, 205, 4.87, #7), damaging any draft stock that remained. ... TCU senior DE Ben Banogu (6-3, 249, 4.79, #15) continues to see his draft stock rise with an eight-tackle, two-sack performance against Texas Tech. ... It was announced that USC senior OLB Porter Gustin (6-4, 260, 4.80, #45) would miss the remainder of the season due to a fractured right ankle and he will begin rehab with an eye on the draft. ... Minnesota junior OLB Carter Coughlin (6-3, 245, 4.78, #45) has garnered attention from the NFL scouting community with 9.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks through six games ... Tulsa junior P Thomas Bennett (6-2, 180, 4.95, #23), son of long time NFL punter Darren Bennett is fourth in the nation in punting average (49.5).