While this weekend doesn’t have some of the marquee matchups fans normally look forward to, there could be some upsets brewing. We’ll also find out if certain ranked teams are legit after hot starts to the season. These teams have an abundance of playmakers that could make a difference at the next level. Here are five NFL Draft prospects to watch in Week 9:
1) Shaka Toney (EDGE) - Penn State Nittany Lions
One of the least talked about players in 2019, Toney is an uber athletic pass rusher that can generate pressure on any play. He recorded 41 total tackles, eight for loss, 6.5 sacks, one pass defended, one fumble recovery and a blocked field goal last season.
Toney is already off to a hot start in 2020 with seven tackles, two for loss and two sacks in Penn State’s season-opener against Indiana. He was virtually unblockable in a game that came down to a controversial two-point conversion that handed the Nittany Lions a 36-35 loss in overtime.
Toney’s draft stock will almost certainly skyrocket if he has another impressive showing against No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday night.
2) James Wiggins (DB) - Cincinnati Bearcats
After suffering a torn ACL two days before the 2019 season, Wiggins returned for 2020 and is looking to make some noise. His breakout sophomore season featured 54 total tackles, two for loss, four interceptions, nine passes defended and one forced fumble.
Wiggins has helped No. 7 Cincinnati climb the ranks with a 4-0 start to the season. He has already racked up 16 tackles and four passes defended.
The Bearcats will need Wiggins and the defense to step up in another big test against Memphis, who have averaged 548.8 yards per game. He is currently projected as a mid-round pick and could see his stock rise if he continues his solid play.
3) Sam Ehlinger (QB) - Texas Longhorns
Ehlinger has had quite the senior season. He currently ranks ninth in the nation in passing yards (1,481) and second in touchdowns (17). Ehlinger can also get it done on the ground with 32 career rushing touchdowns.
Despite Ehliger’s play, Texas has not gotten off to the start they hoped they would. The Longhorns were upset by unranked TCU and fell to Oklahoma in a four-overtime battle.
After a decent game against Baylor, Ehlinger faces a tough test against No. 6 Oklahoma State, who has allowed just 303 yards and 12 points per game this season.
4) Ian Book (QB) - Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame’s offense looked anemic in their 12-7 win over Louisville but bounced back against Pitt. Book led the No. 4 Fighting Irish to a 45-3 victory with 312 yards and three touchdowns.
Book is now up to 1,026 passing yards and six touchdowns with just one interception on the season. His accuracy leaves much to be desired at 59.7 percent, but he will get another chance to go off against a Georgia Tech defense that has given up 121 points in their last two games.
Book will look to get the Fighting Irish offense in a rhythm before facing No. 1 Clemson in what may be the toughest test of his career.
5) Pat Freiermuth (TE) - Penn State Nittany Lions
Freiermuth has had a stellar career at Penn State. He caught 69 passes for 875 yards and 15 touchdowns in the last two seasons. Freiermuth kicked off the 2020 season with seven catches for 60 yards and a touchdown against Indiana.
Freiermuth’s 16 career touchdowns are good for eighth all-time at Penn State and sets the school record for most touchdown receptions by a tight end.
Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford will look to find Freiermuth early and often when Ohio State comes to town.