Who to watch: West Virginia v. Syracuse (Pinstripe Bowl)

Stay tuned for must-see prospects from every game of the bowl season.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Saturday, December 29, 3:15pm EST


Yankee Stadium is famous for the long ball.  This game will be no exception, with passing game talent galore!

West Virginia

Geno Smith, #12, Senior, QB

Many people think that Geno Smith will be the #1 overall pick in the 2013 draft.  I said back in August that Geno Smith would become the signature player of the 2012 season.  While that didn’t quite materialize (thanks, WVU defense) I still think he belongs in the conversation for the best QB in the draft.

Coming into the season I had Geno ranked #1 among my quarterback prospects, so it was his job to lose.  Let’s see how he did when comparing 2011 to 2012:

Relevant games with 2+ TD passes

  • 2012-  6
  • 2011-  5

Relevant games with 3+ TD passes

  • 2012-  4
  • 2011-  2


  • 2012-  43.5
  • 2011-  41.7

Completion %

  • 2012-  66.3
  • 2011-  67.8

Yards per completion

  • 2012-  10.9
  • 2011-  11.9

TD rate increased by 23%

Grade in my system (anything above 95 is a potentially elite prospect)

  • 2012-  105.5
  • 2011- 108.9

Across the board, he has held steady at a very high level or improved.  The one ‘pink flag’ I have is that his interception rate increased by 111%.  I say pink flag–not red– because we need to keep things in perspective.  His 2011 interception rate of .68% led the nation by a long shot.  His 2012 interception rate of 1.44% is still fourth best of the season.

On second thought, maybe becoming the #1 pick in the draft DOES make you the signature player of the season.

Keep an eye out for Smith, Stedman Bailey, and Tavon Austin (see below) in the video.

Stedman Bailey, #3, Junior, WR

Tavon Austin, #1, Senior, WR

In my November WR rankings, I had both WVU stars in my top 10 and nothing has changed since then.  Well, one thing has changed… Bailey has moved ahead of Austin.

Bailey went berserk over the Mountaineers’ final four games, posting 45 receptions, 671 yards, and 8 TDs.  To understand how outrageous that is, consider that Louisville’s stud WR DeVante Parker posted 38–712–9 for the ENTIRE SEASON!

For the year, Stedman Bailey’s average stat line reads:  8.8 receptions,  125 yards,  1.9 touchdowns.  Those 1.9 touchdowns per game is 2nd ALL TIME in my database behind some guy named Randy Moss.  Whatever happened to him?

Bailey has already declared for the NFL draft and recently posted on Twitter  “In my opinion, I think I’m pretty similar to Kendall Wright… That’s just my opinion tho…”  In fact, I think he’s better than Wright (20th overall pick in 2012 draft).  Stedman Bailey is EASILY one of the top five wide receiver prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft and might the best.  Check back in March when my official draft grades are released.

Tavon Austin has been a highly touted since day 1 of the 2012 season.  And while I believe he is a top 10 wide receiver prospect, I like Bailey better.  Austin has operated as an underneath guy for the past two season while holding a yards/reception under 12 yards.  Additionally, his smaller frame (5′  8”  172lbs) raises some doubts about his ability to hold up.  The last small WR I graded (almost) as high as Austin was Desean Jackson, who has turned out alright to say the least.

Enjoy your last chance to watch the dynamic trio of Smith-Bailey-Austin before they head off to the NFL.


Alec Lemon, #15, Senior, WR

As of now I have Lemon ranked at (coincidentally) about the #15 receiving prospect in the country.  This places him squarely in the beginning of round 4.  To further this thought, the last notable Syracuse WR was the Bucs’ Mike Williams:

Williams 2010– 7 receptions, 106 yards,  .8 TD  (per game)

Lemon 2012– 6.4 receptions,  96 yards,  .6 TD  (per game)

The two wide receivers have similar builds, and (coincidentally) Williams was selected in the beginning of round 4 in the 2011 draft.  Lemon has improved in ALL 9 of my metrics during the 2012 season and appears poised to make a name for himself on Sundays.  In the mean time, he’ll have to settle for making a name for himself on a Saturday afternoon in Yankee Stadium.

Jump to the 40 second mark to see Lemon do his dirt.

In case you’re wondering “where is Ryan Nassib?”  he doesn’t do anything for me.  How excited were you about Matt Flynn or Mike Kafka coming out of college?  I’d just assume have Ryan Radcliff over Ryan Nassib.  And, no, I’m not joking.  (Now go look up who Ryan Radcliff is)

One thought on “Who to watch: West Virginia v. Syracuse (Pinstripe Bowl)

  1. Pingback: Who to watch: Mississippi State v. Northwestern (Gator Bowl) « The College Football Experiment

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