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Week 1-(Thursday) Players to Watch

by J.T. Toth

Photo courtesy of @GatorsFB on Twitter.

Do you believe college football is here? Draft 412 is ready for Saturday’s games and wants to make sure you are as well. Each week, we will go through the games and the players to watch on our way to the draft in April 2024.

Here is our preview for - Week 1 (Thursday Edition)

Florida at. #12 Utah 8:00 pm ESPN

Line- Florida (+4.5)

Draft 412 Prediction- Utah 28 Florida 24

Both teams come into the season opener with question marks at quarterback. For #12 Utah, the Utes want to see if senior signal caller Cameron Rising is 100% after suffering a torn ACL in the Rose Bowl this past January. Rising threw for 3,046 yards and 26 touchdowns in leading Utah to a 10-4 record.

For the Gators, they will be starting fifth-year senior Graham Mertz, who spent the past 4 seasons playing for the Wisconsin Badgers. They are hoping that Mertz can have success in a more wide open offense.

Here are some future NFL prospects to watch in Thursday nights game:

Utah- Quarterback- Cameron Rising

Rising needs to show the college football world he is back and healthy from his torn ACL suffered just 8 months ago. If he is not the quarterback he was the past two seasons, Utah could be in for a long season.

Utah- Safety- Cole Bishop

Cole Bishop is a Draft 412 preseason Second-Team All-American and he will be asked to help make Graham Mertz’s Florida debut a quiet one. Florida will have their usual athletes, and Bishop will get to showcase his skills on National TV.

Utah- Running Back- Ja’Quinden Jackson

Jackson is a playmaker extraordinaire. He played quarterback and running back last year and averaged 6.8 yards a carry, rushing for 531 yards on 78 carries. If Rising isn’t 100%, look for Jackson to take a bigger part in the offense.

Utah- Tight End- Thomas Yassmin

With Dalton Kincaid now playing TE for the Buffalo Bills, Yassmin should play a big part in the offense in 2023. The 6’5” 248 Australian came on late in the 2022 season and had 6 touchdown catches on only 13 receptions.

Florida- Running Back- Montrell Johnson Jr.

With the uncertainty at quarterback, look for Johnson Jr. to be a huge part of the Gators offense. He has very good hands out of the backfield and excels in the open space. He will likely be new QB Graham Mertz’s favorite target on night one.

Others to Watch

Florida- CB- Jason Marshall Jr.

Utah- WR- Brant Kuithe

Utah- G- Sataoa Laumea

Utah-LB- Karene Reid

Other Players on Thursday Night

N.C. State- Quarterback- Brennan Armstrong

Armstrong is another 6th-year quarterback looking to make a name for himself by transferring to another school. After 5 years in Virginia, Armstrong will lead the Wolfpack at home against UCONN. He had a huge season in 2021, throwing for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns (both school records), but last season he threw more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (7) in an injury-plagued campaign.

Minnesota- Tight End- Brevyn Spann-Ford

Spann-Ford, a 6’7” tight end, is possibly the Golden Gophers' best NFL prospect. Keep an eye on the big tight end target as the season progresses. Last season he corralled 42 passes for 497 yards and appears to be poised to be an even bigger part of the offense in 2023.

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