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College prospects to watch: Week 10

The Pac-12 and MAC make their season debuts

Buffalo v Rutgers Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Week 9 saw No. 1 Clemson trailing Boston College 28-13 at halftime before the Tigers stormed back to win 34-28. DJ Uiagalelei started under center in place of Trevor Lawrence, who was inactive due to testing positive for COVID-19 just two days prior.

Week 10 should be even more exciting with all Power 5 conferences - the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC - taking the field together for the first time this season. Here are five NFL Draft prospects to watch in Week 10:

Virginia Tech v North Carolina Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

1) Chazz Surratt (LB) - UNC Tar Heels

A quarterback in high school, Surratt has transitioned to the linebacker position quite gracefully. The switch came after back-to-back nine-loss seasons in his first two years at UNC. Surratt’s motivation for switching was to one day play at the next level.

Surratt’s transition arguably couldn’t have gone any better. In his first season at linebacker in 2019, he led the team in tackles (115), tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (6.5) and quarterback hurries (10). Surratt also had four passes defended, one interception, a forced fumble and a recovery.

Surratt’s draft stock skyrocketed following his breakout junior season and can only go up from here. He is currently projected as a mid-second round pick in the draft. Surratt’s motivation for switching positions in the first place certainly looks to be paying off.

Buffalo v Rutgers Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

2) Malcolm Koonce (EDGE) - Buffalo Bulls

Koonce is the Mid-Atlantic Conference’s best draft prospect. He had a breakout season in 2019 when he led the MAC in sacks with nine. Koonce also recorded 11 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and five quarterback hits.

Koonce’s frame (6-3, 250) helps him power his way around the edge and is relentless in pursuit. He can also hold his own in short-coverage situations due to his length. Koonce is already looking to build on his stellar 2019 campaign after recording eight total tackles with two for loss in Buffalo’s season opener against NIU on Wednesday.

Due to the fact that the Bulls play just three Saturday games all season, their next contest is a home matchup against Miami OH on Tuesday night. Koonce will have to make the most of the MAC’s six-game regular season if he wants to improve his draft stock.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Camping World Bowl - Notre Dame v Iowa State Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

3) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB) - Notre Dame

With Trevor Lawrence out, No. 4 Notre Dame needs to put pressure on freshman DJ Uiagalelei early when they face No. 1 Clemson in their biggest game of the season. Uiagalelei torched Boston College last week for 343 yards through the air and three total touchdowns.

The Fighting Irish defense cannot let Uiagalelei get hot. The unquestioned leader of that defense is Owusu-Koramoah, who was named to the Preseason All-ACC Team. He has already racked up 26 total tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble.

Projected as an early second-round pick, Owusu-Koramoah’s versatility allows him to be excellent in both pursuit and pass coverage. Notre Dame will need a huge game from him if they want to topple college football’s top-ranked team.

Alabama vs Tennessee Photo by Andrew Ferguson/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

4) Trey Smith (OL) - Tennessee Volunteers

Smith was the Southeastern Conference’s highest-graded run blocker returning for 2020. The senior helped pave the way for Tennessee’s rushing offense when they ran for 232 yards and four touchdowns against Missouri.

Smith was forced to sit out late in 2018 due to blood clots before making a remarkable return as a junior in 2019. He did not allow a single sack all season and was named to the All-SEC First Team and won the 2019 Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award.

Although the Vols sit at 2-3 on the season, Smith has been pivotal in halting defensive fronts and allowing his offense to make plays. You can never really go wrong drafting offensive linemen, and Smith is without a doubt a first-round talent.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Holiday Bowl - USC v Iowa Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

5) Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR) - USC Trojans

St. Brown enters 2020 ranking 19th on USC’s career receptions list and will likely eclipse 2,000 career receiving yards this season. Now as a junior, he is looking to build on last year’s campaign that featured 77 catches for 1,042 yards and six touchdowns.

A projected mid-round pick, St. Brown excels at creating separation against man coverage. He also has the ability to extend plays even after the catch.

No. 20 USC opens their season against Arizona State on Saturday morning. Sophomore quarterback Kedon Slovis should find St. Brown early as the Trojans try to start their season with a victory.

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