Written By: Roy Countryman @Blitzalytics
Here we are rumbling down the last leg of the college season, and we’re staring straight in the eyes of conference championships as well as bowl season. Within the next few weeks we will of had all the votes tallied up for our year’s winner of the Lott IMPACT award, but we do not want to overlook those standout performances of the last few weeks.
This week’s award winner is in a rare class. Josh Allen, linebacker from Kentucky, has been selected for a third time this season. This feat has only been accomplished one time previously, by Manti Te’o back in 2012.
Allen put forth another game-changing effort, helping his Wildcats defeat Middle Tennessee State by a score of 34-23. He chipped in a career high 15 tackles, that include 2 tackles for loss and two more sacks. With this performance Allen’s season totals look something like this: 75 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 13 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. With those 13 sacks this year added to his career numbers, it puts him in sole possession of the sack record for Kentucky with 27.5. Allen surely stands to be a serious suitor for the Lott IMPACT player of the year, as well as other decorated honors such as the Butkus Award Semifinalist, All-SEC team, and AP All-American. When evaluating his skill set, he is blessed with loose hips, an ability to bend the edge, the strong hands needed to slip off blocks, and the speed to win on rushing situations. Kentucky’s defensive leader can win in a variety of ways to put pressure on the quarterback. He is a monster who continually makes big plays, terrorizing QBs at the release point leading to his 5 forced fumbles. He is not only a one trick pony, as he shows a true acumen for dropping off from his usual outside linebacker position and carrying tight ends or running backs into the flat. He also has a finisher’s mentality when he gets to the quarterback. He has demonstrated the true meaning of IMPACT, utilizing leadership on the field and in the locker room.
Josh Allen wasn’t the only one up for consideration for his game-changing effort, and we will briefly look at some of his key competitors for the weekly honor.
Zach Allen, DE: Boston College
For the second time this season, Allen put up a standout performance that put him square into consideration for player of the week. All he did this week was put up 6 total tackles, a sack, a QB hurry, and a blocked kick, en route to a heartbreaking loss to Florida State 22-21. He is a big, strong, and rugged DE prospect who can win plays with a variety of ways. He uses strong hand usage, great length, an innate sense of when to get his hands up into throwing lanes, plus an array of pass rush moves including a deadly push-pull and a spin move. He plays with elite effort, and will never give up on making a play.
Ben Burr-Kirven, LB: Washington
Another week, another respectable box score to put Burr-Kirven into consideration for player of the week. He accrued 11 tackles, one for a loss, in a convincing win over Oregon State by a score of 42-23. Burr-Kirven is a tackling machine who plays like his hair is on fire. He uses great speed and acceleration combined with quality play recognition to close on ball carriers. Not only can the linebacker quickly diagnose plays, but he shows up with authority and with tremendous tackling mechanics. The Washington linebacker can be tasked with dropping off into zone coverage and be able to carry running backs and tight ends downfield due to his well-rounded skill set. With a nose for the ball, he always seems to be in the area when a big play is happening. Although he lacks a prototypical build, he makes up for it with instincts and intelligence. Burr-Kirven is a high-end prospect at the collegiate level who is Washington’s team leader.
Drue Tranquill, LB: Notre Dame
Tranquill has had a tremendous bounceback year, and this week he put up a strong effort that has landed him on our radar. He had a great all-around game with 7 total tackles, 2 sacks, and 2.5 TFL in a winning effort for his Golden Domers against Syracuse, 36-3. Tranquill has worked his way back from a devastating knee injury that was sustained during a celebration. He has made his presence felt both on the field and off, being a true leader in every sense of the word during his rehab back to full strength. With decent height and bulk, Tranquill has an intriguing skill set in the mold of a hybrid linebacker/safety, but it his cerebralness out on the field that enhances his abilities. He has great instincts and terrific closing quickness to flash downfield and fill running lanes. Add on soft hands, and he will come up with a timely turnover when his team needs. Tranquill is a sure tackler who loves to lay the wood and punish ball carriers coming his way.
As always, we would like to congratulate Kentucky’s Josh Allen for winning this week’s award, as well as the other candidates that were in consideration. Best of luck to those playing in the final week’s worth of collegiate contests.