During the college football season, Eric Galko, the Shrine Bowl Director of Football Operations and Player Personnel, will give us his breakout performers from the previous week's action -- the names you should know -- because it's never too early to talk NFL Draft. With college football's Week 4 in the books, let's dive in.
Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina
, ahead of his matchup with the Bulldogs, because of what he showed in the road loss to Georgia. Yes, he struggled at Oklahoma, but he's been a completely different player in Columbia. So far in 2023, Rattler has made better decisions, and put his offense in positions to have success against tough opponents like North Carolina and Georgia. The first thing that you notice about Rattler isn't his arm strength or his willingness to put balls into tight windows because he trusts his receivers (and his arm), it's his toughness. He'll stand in the pocket, keep his eyes downfield, get blasted, but not before ripping a laser to a barely open teammate.
Eric Galko: "Rattler's play against Mississippi State epitomizes why NFL evaluators are and should be so excited about his future. Rattler was near flawless as a relaxed-in-pocket and on-the-move passer, finishing throws and setting up his receivers for ample yards after catch. Rattler's arm talent and velocity when forced off platform is already among the best in college or the NFL, and now he's showing teams he can set up his playmakers and be efficient all game long."
Rasheen Ali, RB, Marshall
Ali rushed for 1,401 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2021 but an injury last season led to a medical redshirt. He's right back at it in 2023, however, averaging a career best 6.3 yards per carry, including a huge effort Saturday versus the Hokies.
Galko: "Marshall had total control in their matchup against Virginia Tech, and Ali was a big reason why. He finished with over 170 yards, 50+ after contact and again showcased why Ali is one of the most explosive running backs in the country. Ali's initial burst after getting the hand off and bounce as he adjusts initially has been incredibly impressive all season long, and coupled with great offensive line play, led Ali to his best game of the year. He's definitely a running back NFL draft fans need to get familiar with, because NFL scouts certainly are."
Joshua Kelly and Kyle Williams, WR, Washington State
Kelly and Williams combined for 15 catches, 333 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win over Oregon State. Both players transferred in -- Kelly from Fresno St. and Williams from UNLV -- and both have translated into immediate offense for quarterback Cameron Ward,, and the Cougars.
Galko: "It was an incredible game from Cameron Ward and the Washington State offense, and both Joshua Kelly and Kyle Williams, two new additions through the transfer portal, thoroughly impressed NFL scouts in this one. Joshua Kelly had multiple impressive grabs in the end zone and in space, and showed the contact balance, control, and burst after the catch that will translate at the next level. And Kyle Williams' instant elusiveness in space and top-end speed forced Oregon State's safeties to stay vertical all game and allowed him to make a few dynamic downfield plays."
Luke McCaffrey, WR, Rice
He is, in fact, Christian McCaffrey's brother, but the Nebraska transfer has made a name for himself at Rice, where the transition to wide receiver has been a smooth one. That was obvious in Week 2, when he caught seven passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Houston. And it was on display in Week 4, as well, when he totaled 206 all-purpose yards against South Florida. Following the 2022 season, he was voted team MVP by his teammates after leading the Owls with 58 receptions, 903 all-purpose yards and six touchdown catches in his first season at receiver.
Galko: "Second time featuring Luke McCaffrey this season, but this week's performance was too impressive to not mention, even in a loss. McCaffrey won on perimeter routes, working in the seam, adjusting when the quarterback had to go off-script, in traffic and in contested downfield catches. McCaffrey is showing receiver ability well beyond his two years of positional experience each and every week."
Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona
Morgan was on NFL radars a year ago, when he was quietly among the best offensive tackles in college football. But a late-season knee injury brought him back to Tucson for the 2023 campaign, and he's picked up where he left off last fall.
Galko: "After missing all of last year, I haven't seen many people talk about Jordan Morgan, but he's clearly among the most talented offensive linemen in the country. He's been dominant to start the year with zero sacks and few, if any, pressures by pass rushers that actually impacted the play. That's due to elite feet, balance once he's engaged, and control with consistently strong hands in his pass sets. He's an outstanding prospect who has first-round ability and looks the part of a franchise left tackle to start the 2023 season."
Keith Randolph, DL, Illinois
Randolph was very good a year ago though it's easy to understand why he may have been overlooked, with former defensive teammates Devon Witherspoon, Quan Martin and Sydney Brown all early round draft picks in the spring. And then there's linemate Jer'Zhan Newton, who has earned every bit of first-round buzz. But all Randolph did was rack up 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and an interception in '22, and he's on pace to improve on those numbers this fall after a strong start.
Galko: "Much of the Illinois defensive front seven has been on Johnny Newton (), who's among the most impressive pass rushers and run game disrupters in the country, but this week it was Randolph who consistently put pressure on Florida Atlantic and finished in the backfield. He was a big reason why Florida Atlantic wasn't able to get anything going on offense in the second half, and his penetration and strength before, during and after contact all really stood out on film."
Byron Murphy, DL, Texas
Murphy earned honorable mention Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors in 2021, and was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team in 2022. Through four games this season, he has already matched or exceeded his career best in tackles for loss (3.5) and sacks (2.5). And, oh by the way, he can serve as a short-yardage blocking fullback too.
Galko: "The Texas defensive line is the best in the country, and every week one of T'Vondre Sweat, Alfred Collins or Byron Murphy breakout for a huge performance. Murphy finished the game with two sacks, one sniffing out a screen and finishing on the quarterback quicker than he could react, and the second late in the game to prevent a red-zone touchdown against a double team. Murphy's twitch and explosiveness complements the massive frame and strength of Collins and Sweat extremely well."
Payton Wilson, LB, NC State
There was some thought that Wilson might enter the draft after the 2022 season, after he had 12.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and an interception. But he returned in '23 and, true to form, he has been a tackling machine through the early part of the schedule.
Every week, #NCState LB Payton Wilson makes 1 or 2 plays that make you marvel at his athleticism. Play recognition plus closing speed are some of his best traits and were on display against Virginia.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) September 25, 2023
Injury history aside, I think he's the best draft eligible LB in 24' class. pic.twitter.com/OBgDVcFbC1
Galko: "Wilson has been a leader on the NC State defense the last three seasons, and is putting together his best and most impactful season in 2023. After playing with 2023 Shrine Bowlers Isaiah Moore and Drake Thomas last year, Wilson has taken a major next step in being a dominant run defender (back-to-back games of 3 tackles for no gain/loss in the run game) and a perimeter tackle finisher with an unwavering motor. Wilson's length, hustle and range as a tackler jumps off the film each and every week."