Who doesn't love an underdog? The unknown, the overlooked, the unheralded. One of the best parts of college postseason all-star games is when they shine the light on those handful of guys that come from small schools and/or Division II and have not had the hype of, say, an SEC guy. It's even better when the player takes that opportunity and crushes. We're still days away from this year's East-West Shrine Game, but already a couple small-school names are buzzing.
The first is a huge, Seahawk-type strong safety out of Richmond named Cooper Taylor. Measuring between 6'4"/228 and 6'5"/235, Taylor is huge. Not only does he grab attention with measurables, the guy had production at Richmond this year after transferring from Georgia Tech before 2011 season. In only 10 games, Taylor surpassed Earl Thomas (who played 14 games for Texas) on my defensive production chart, with Earl going 77.5 pts in 14 games and Taylor going 79.0 in 10 games. Taylor's 13-game projection (102.7) would put him just behind Phillip Thomas at the top of this year's safety class. In real numbers, we’re talking: 78 tackles (5 for loss), 4 INT, 9 PBU, and 3 forced-fumbles.
The second is a big DE from Missouri Western State named David Bass. Not only does Bass come from the same state as Aldon Smith, they’re both similarly built players (Smith-6’4"/263/4.74 and Bass-6’4"/262/4.76). I had never heard of Bass until this week, but as soon as I did, I looked up his stats: 61 TT, 16 TFL, 11.5 Sacks, 2 INT, 7 PBU, and a FF. It’s a score of 72.9 on the defensive production grid. Bass’ junior year was even better, clocking in 55 TT, 20 TFL, 14.5 Sacks, 4 PBU, and a FF (score of 80.7). These scores put his production ahead of guys like Bjoern Werner, Ezekiel Ansah, Sam Montgomery, and Dion Jordan. Of course, those stats are against lesser competition. But the early word out of the Shrine practices is that Bass is standing out against Div I O-linemen.
Unfortunately, there is very little footage on either of these guys. So I’ll be watching the game this Saturday to get eyes on them. Taylor and Bass are two I will definitely be keying on.