By Rebecca Rennie

After a week break, we return with another set of small school prospects to know! This FCS Friday edition showcases several impressive performances by some under-the-radar draft talents.

Afterward, we also suggest a name to keep an eye on during one of the best FCS matchups this upcoming Saturday. This prospect made a play last weekend that many were watching live…


Photo Credit: Robert Hayes

While the non-conference schedule continues to offer FCS-FBS matchups, we’ll continue to feature these critical opportunities. After piling up 332 rushing yards, 61 receiving yards and 5 total touchdowns in just the first two games, Penguins playmaker Jaleel McLaughlin enters a crucial section of the schedule. Producing in back-to-back beatdowns of Duquesne and Dayton was somewhat expected. Continuing to do so against the SEC’s Kentucky, followed by North Dakota State and North Dakota would impress more.

Against Kentucky, McLaughlin may not have lit up the box score solely based on yards per rush. On 10 carries against the Wildcats, the YSU prospect netted 36 yards. Observing how he operated and executed on those attempts surpassed the statistical summation, however. Hurting the numbers was a swarming Kentucky front seven that typically provided minimal room to work. Unsurprisingly, the Power Five talent won out in the trenches on more reps than not.

Despite that, McLaughlin was able to flash well on a handful of carries, bouncing runs outside effectively during the opening quarter. It was notable to see the dynamic runner at the FCS level continue to win on angles to the edges against SEC defenders. His quick processing and creativity to exploit space was also on show. McLaughlin has obvious foot speed to his mobility, but on his short frame, it was questionable as to how effectively he covered ground with his shorter strides. The indications were encouraging on this showing. How he ultimately tests during the pre-draft will be one to watch.

Outside of his backfield carries, the transfer from Division 2 Notre Dame College (Ohio) is a pass catching threat out of the backfield. Conversely to his yards per rush, he averaged 20 yards on his three receptions against the Wildcats. The fact that includes a longest catch of 64 yards indicates that the other two were shut down very quickly. However, his explosive 3rd quarter catch-and-run showcased his big-play ability and use of space. That set up the Penguins in the red zone, which unfortunately was not capitalized on. The Youngstown offense turned the ball over with an interception on the next play. That ended the best scoring opportunity in the 31-0 eventual loss.

The FCS draft prospect is a little older, now five years removed from high school. At the running back position, that may factor into his stock for some decision makers. There’s no denying the potential to contribute, though. In addition to speed, McLaughlin is light on his feet with the short-area quickness to evade tackle attempts in space. Though not the biggest, he is more solidly built for his frame than often credited. Between-the-tackles running won’t be his forte but can prove slippery through traffic. The NDSU Bison are next up for the intriguing RB prospect.


Photo Credit: Charles A. Smith/JSU

Jackson State have made waves in recruiting under Deion Sanders. Primetime has plenty of senior talent to go with the incoming youth, though. Transfers from the Power Five permeate the roster, with former Missouri 4-star Aubrey Miller Jr. a standout among the group. Struggling for playing time in the SEC, Miller has flourished at his new school. Following a strong 2021 spring, a breakout fall season to follow included 109 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks and 3 pass breakups. This past weekend, the Tigers linebacker had an impactful outing in a dominant 66-24 win over Grambling, including 8 tackles with 1 for loss.

Miller made a fantastic start to his active game, forcing a fumble on the second snap for the opposing Grambling offense. His all-action performance also saw him add a pass breakup and another QB hit onto the stat sheet. Positioning himself consistently well in order to make plays is a reflection of his excellent overall reading of the game. A great example of that saw Miller Jr. decipher the intentions on a quick pass out to the Grambling running back in the right flat. The Tigers linebacker was already on the move as the throw was released. Closing quick and bringing force as he arrived, his open field tackle resulted in a loss of yardage.

In addition to the plays included in his final box score numbers, Miller’s impact went further. He nearly added an additional sack, with the QB just able to release the ball while in the process of being taken down hard to the turf by the imposing JSU defender. A trend throughout Miller’s play versus Grambling was not only his quick decision making, but his consistently favorable angles taken to ball carriers. A reliable finisher, many of his plays were solo open field tackles in space.

It was not all perfect throughout the contest. At the end of the first quarter, Grambling scored on a 73-yard breakaway carry by their own young talented RB Maurice Washington. Miller looked as though he may have been partly at fault for a missed run fit where he could have filled the gap that provided the open running lane. While he made a number of tackles in space working forward, Miller arguably looks a touch tight working backward. Despite a PBU, his true burst and range may be somewhat limited for being a consistent factor against the pass.

There’s no doubt, though, that the Missouri transfer linebacker has positive traits and complimentary production to provide intriguing NFL potential. He is one of a number on this Tigers roster that are poised to be a part of the 2023 draft class and beyond. On the other side of the ball, slightly built but dynamic receiver Dallas Daniels had a sensational performance that included 3 touchdowns. His QB and son of the coach Shedeur Sanders is a legitimate pro prospect for the following class who is a must-know for draft fans also.


Photo Credit: UAPBLionsRoar

Emblematic of the FCS 2022 NFL draft class was the depth of talent throughout the offensive line group. It remains to be determined whether the next set of small school linemen can match them in 2023. There is no shortage of potential OL prospects from this level of football again, however. Among the compelling candidates is Golden Lions blocker Mark Evans II. A left tackle in college, Evans’ frame most likely projects better to the interior for the next level.

It is readily understandable why he has lined up on the edge for Arkansas-Pine Bluff, though. Immediately evident in watching Evans’ film is his sharp movement. From the release out of his stance, his general quickness, and his efficient changes of direction, he looks the part athletically. With his potential projection to an interior position for the pros, it is easy to picture him pulling effectively as a lead blocker in the run game if asked.

The previous weekend’s contest saw the Lions take on a challenging assignment against Oklahoma State of the Big 12. Midway through the second quarter, the Cowboys had dominated while opening up a 42-0 lead prior to the half. Evans was able to showcase some positive play however, despite the offense struggling overall. Arguably the lone negative moment from his individual reps was an unfortunate hold called against him during the latter stages of the first quarter.

In addition to the positive movement on display, the FCS left tackle held up physically for the most part. The Oklahoma State defensive line features an older, more mature group in the trenches than most college teams. Despite this, Evans succeeded at the point of attack with good core strength. A couple occasions saw him forced back a step or two initially. He was quickly able to recover, reset his feet, and work the momentum back the other way to drive forward.

The second offensive drive by the Golden Lions was arguably their best of the early going. That series saw Evans contribute well on multiple reps. The aggressive O-lineman drove and turned one opposing Cowboy inside to open up a good running lane for his back. Those were followed by finishing one defender to the turf and working another almost off screen. With a wide sturdy base, good balance and leverage, the athletic OL prospect demonstrated toughness, power and technique. In a game film against better opposition than he will see all season, he made a solid case for the post-season All-Star circuit.


TY SCOTT, WR, MISSOURI STATE vs South Dakota State

Photo Credit: Missouri State

It’s likely that many viewers tuned into the second half of Missouri State’s visit to Arkansas last weekend. The prospect of the Bobby Petrino-led Bears upsetting the SEC outfit on his return to Fayetteville was an irresistible potential storyline. It is therefore likely that they saw the moment that Ty Scott’s third quarter touchdown on a 4th-down throw swung momentum back in Missouri State’s favor.

The 47-yard score by the Central Michigan transfer was memorable, but far from the first big play by Ty Scott this season so far. Trailing Tennessee-Martin entering the 4th quarter the previous week, Scott’s two TDs in the final fifteen minutes helped seal a crucial 35-30 win for the Bears. In addition to his 96 yards and 3 total touchdowns against the Skyhawks, he also totalled 160 receiving yards against Central Arkansas in the season opener.

If the talented senior can continue this early-season form, Scott will surely draw interest during the pre-draft process. With good length and fluid movement, he has an appealing combination of size and athleticism. Notable in his film this season has been his consistency in catching cleanly in stride while maintaining speed. His polished route breaks, good footwork and focus at the catch point sees him work open and draw regular targets.

In one of the best FCS matchups of the weekend, Missouri State will take on South Dakota State on Saturday. The Jackrabbits are among the most talented all-round rosters in the division again this season. Another strong performance while facing tough opposition will continue the positive momentum for Ty Scott in 2022. The former 2-star safety recruit will be one of several pro prospects on the field. SDSU’s own offense is loaded with potential NFL talent, adding to the interest in this Missouri Valley Football Conference contest.

Feature Image Credit: Robert Hayes.

Rebecca Rennie

rebecca rennie


Rebecca is an NFL Draft analyst focusing primarily on the FCS and Group of Five conferences, and a fan of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Stanford Cardinal. You can find her other articles here and follow on Twitter @bex_r86.