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Small School Spotlight: RB Kerwynn Williams (Utah State)

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 22, 2013 – 10:49 am

The “small school” tag is not the only stigma this nimble, smooth-striding RB will have to overcome to make it in the NFL. He’ll also be characterized as a one-year starter who faced lesser competition. To his defense on those two charges, he played behind a pair of 2012 draft picks – Seattle 4th-rounder Robert Turbin and Tampa Bay 7th-rounder Michael Smith, and when he finally did assume a starting role in 2012 he dominated.

Kerwynn Williams, Keith Smith, James Orth

Here was his senior line as a RB: 218 carries for 1,512 yards (6.9 per carry) and 15 TDs. He also had 45 receptions for 697 yards and 5 TDs as a pass catcher out of the backfield, illustrating his ability to play all 3 downs as a versatile offensive weapon (20 total TDs). During his time at Utah State, Williams was also a talented returner, the type of player the Vikings could be looking to add in this draft. In 4 seasons at Utah State, Williams totaled 91 kickoff returns for 2,272 yards (25.0 per return) with 1 TD, and he was also an occasional punt returner (15 career punt returns). As a freshman, he was the full-time kickoff returner, averaging 27.2 yards per return with a TD.

The production is obviously there, in several facets of the game. The raw ability is there, too, as Williams was a top performer among RBs at the Combine with a 4.48 time in the 40-yard dash and a 4.15 time in the 20-yard shuttle. He also recorded explosive measurements in the broad jump and vertical leap.

Outside of the small-school, one-year starter and lesser competition tags, Williams will also be docked for his size – he measures in at 5-8, 195 pounds. Maybe that will prevent him from ascending a depth chart and becoming a bell-cow type of RB in the NFL. But maybe it won’t, either. Regardless of that, this small-school prospect who glides swiftly across and down a football field like a hockey player down the ice could be an impact player as a returner and receiver out of the backfield.


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Small School Spotlight: DE David Bass (Missouri Western State)

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 15, 2013 – 5:18 am

As the 2013 NFL Draft draws closer, some of the country’s top players from most of the country’s top college football programs are anxiously awaiting to find out their professional destination. While you can be sure that college football powerhouses such as Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and USC will produce plenty of pros once again this year, you can be just as sure that some of the country’s smaller schools will yield some professional talent as well.

Jerry Rice, the best receiver in NFL history, is a produce of Mississippi Valley State. Our own John Randle, another Hall of Famer, played at Texas A&I – Kingsville. We see it all the time – players from small schools in college can make a big impact in the NFL.

In recognition of this, we’ll run a series called “Small School Spotlight” to highlight a few of this year’s intriguing prospects who may not get the attention they deserve because they come from smaller schools.

We’ll kickoff the small school spotlight with one of my favorite sleepers in this entire class – DE David Bass from Missouri Western State. You don’t see Missouri Western play its games on TV. They play the likes of Emporia State University, Pittsburgh State and Minnesota State – Mankato, and those matchups aren’t going to be featured on prime time network TV. But if you did see Missouri Western State football, you’d notice Bass right away.

David Bass

He measures in 6-4, 262-pounds and he was moved between left DE and right DE because of his effectiveness and versatility. Bass was a 4-year starter at Missouri Western who at one point started 50 consecutive games. He’s the school’s all-time sacks leader with 39.5 and he recorded 56.0 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 22 pass breakups in his career. I don’t care where you’re playing, that kind of production is worth serious consideration when it comes to transitioning into the NFL.

Bass lacks the burst and play-with-your-hair-on-fire demeanor that makes defensive linemen such as Jared Allen so special. But Bass does have the potential to play in the NFL, and if a 3-4 team likes him I think he can stand up as an outside linebacker in that scheme. At some point it’s hard not to wonder if the “small school” tag is too much of a factor for folks putting together pre-draft rankings. Bass is generally an underrated prospect in my view, and this point is illustrated by the fact that he’s the 24th-ranked DE in NFL.com’s rankings. Not the 24th-ranked defensive lineman – the 24th ranked DE. For my taste, that’s simply too low.


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