CFB Saturday Lookout: Can Henderson be a top safety in the 2022 Class?
With plenty of big-time matchups in week 3 of College Football we take a look at four prospects who have plenty to gain at the weekend. We start off with a safety who has caused a stir early in the season, Michigan State’s Xavier Henderson.
Xavier Henderson (Michigan State)
Michigan State’s safety Xavier Henderson has flown out of the traps this season. So much so that through two weeks, PFF has him graded as the top safety in the Power 5 conferences. At 6’1, 210lbs he fits the mould for an NFL safety and his game shows all the hallmarks of being able to cut it at the next level.
Henderson is strong as a centre-fielder and put in a solid showing in the first week against Northwestern. He has great closing speed to crash down into the box and his wrap-up tackling is a major plus. Couple that with the ball skills he showed in week 2 (see below) and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him vault into the positional top 5 lists.
Xavier Henderson oh my goodness 👀— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 11, 2021
Saturday will provide an interesting matchup for Henderson. He will have a lot to deal with vs Miami. The Spartans will need to be alert to the deep threat Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo offers on the outside. Meanwhile, Henderson will need to come up to help slow the experienced Cam’Ron Harris down in the running game. If that wasn’t enough then the diminutive D’Eriq King is a true dual threat QB who will look to manipulate Henderson’s positioning throughout.
It will offer one of the strongest tests a do-it-all safety prospect could face and I hope the talented Henderson can make a splash.
Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina)
While Georgia vs South Carolina appears to be a mismatch on paper the Gamecocks defense will look to change that narrative. While the Bulldogs defense is one of the best in the conference their offense will be asked questions. It is still unclear if it will be JT Daniels under center but the biggest threat will be edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare.
Enagbare is still a tad raw but has the get off and hot motor that means you always need to scheme for him accordingly. While he needs to develop a more nuanced pass rush plan he has the power to put offensive tackles on skates.
Saturday’s key battle will come against Jamaree Salyer, the senior on the left side. He has already had one tough night in the opener against Clemson and Enagbare will offer another challenging evening. Expect the South Carolina man to be deployed on the interior as well. Although it might not be enough to alter the result, seeing Enagbare against SEC competition will be key to his evaluation.
Roger McCreary (Auburn)
Roger McCreary may be the best press man corner in this class that doesn’t get enough love. While Andrew Booth and Derek Stingley take most of the headlines, McCreary is slowly building an excellent resume.
On tape, he thrives going toe to toe with elite receivers in the SEC. He has the speed to break on routes and surprise QBs who thought their comeback throw was an easy completion. He did exactly that against Alabama State last week and brought his career tally to five picks.
This week will be McCreary’s first true test of the year. Penn State are unbeaten and will fancy a tilt at the Big 10 championship. Pay particular attention to when McCreary gets lined up against Jahan Dotson. At 5’11, Dotson will test the Auburn corner vertically. His speed and route running will need McCreary to be at his beat. After averaging over 20 yards per catch in the season opener there is potential for big plays, if McCreary can keep a lid on it then expect his stock to rise further.
Renato Brown (Louisville)
It was a tough opener for the Louisville offensive line. They walked into a buzz saw as a Matt Corral led Ole Miss quickly shot out to a lead forcing the Cardinals to chase the game. Ole Miss edge defender Sam Williams had a strong outing but if you watch closely right tackle Renato Brown fared decently well against the top prospect.
That is reflected in his PFF grade of 73.4. While this will be only his second full season he has the requisite length and build to be an NFL offensive tackle. He needs to work on his anchor and can get moved off his spot but has the athleticism to compensate. Brown is a good mover and has the ability to reach the second level (see below).
Friday night will be another tough assignment as he likely faces snaps against UCF edge rusher Big Kat Bryant. Bryant looked strong in the season opener vs Boise State but is yet to land a sack. His combination of speed and power will need the best from Brown. If he copes he could be on an upward trajectory to an early declaration if not he may need more time to develop in the college game.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com