Towing the Line: Khari Demos Talks College Football Weeks 3 & 4

Khari Demos joins Matt Waldman’s RSP site this season to profile college football’s trenches while keeping an eye on standout offensive skill players. 

Week 4 is on the docket and we have an abundance of ranked matchups on the slate. Colorado-Oregon, UCLA-Utah. Ole Miss-Alabama. Ohio State-Notre Dame? Is this Christmas in September? All I know is these high-level matchups will bring attention to some of the country’s best in terms of NFL talent.

Here are a few names that caught my attention from Week 3 and that you should keep an eye out for as we continue into the 2023 season.

Charles Turner III, C #69, LSU

After making a start at right tackle in 2021, the Canton, OH native has settled in center, starting there for the last 15 games for the Tigers. Turner may be playing the best ball of his career now here as he pushes on in his fifth season in Baton Rouge. At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Turner has an athletic build that has caught the eyes of Jim Nagy and other scouts. But what is lost in the blanket term of him being “undersized” is that he moves fluidly in pass protection yet he can still throw some weight around in the run game.

Right away, what’s evident on tape about Turner is the athleticism he brings to the center position.

This may seem like a routine play, but Turner really mirrored the defender and helped Jayden Daniels complete one of the passes in his historic performance for the Tigers.

He is still growing in this area, but Turner has shown signs of bearing down and anchoring in when a defender attacks on a bull rush.

This play below was also pretty impressive to me in his pass pro; snapping the ball and picking up a blitzer from depth is not an easy task whatsoever.

Things aren’t always pretty with Turner, but they’re effective. You don’t need style points; you just need to block your man.

As long as Turner can continue to get movement off the ball, he’ll be just fine in the eyes of scouts.

One thing I’d like to see Turner improve on is avoiding whiffs like these. Too many times he gets caught in space looking for a man (which isn’t always avoidable, but it shouldn’t become a habit).

I think Turner really is just scratching the surface of what he could be as a player despite him being a fifth-year senior. Kudos to Turner for sticking with it and emerging as one of the Tigers’ top protectors here in the late stages of his college career.

Keep an Eye Out for Malik Nabers, WR #8, LSU

Nabers had the pedigree of being a top-notch receiver in the country after 72 receptions, 1,017 receiving yards, three TDs, and the Gator Bowl MVP award in 2022. But a 13-catch, 243-yard, two-TD outing puts you in the national spotlight in a much different way.

The Youngsville, LA. native is more of a technician than a burner, but he still wins downfield with his savvy and route running. I know he ended up running out of the zone the two defenders he split were occupying, but I love the footwork he shows on this move here to be able to haul in this deep out route.

He was able to set this defender up with his footwork on this slot fade to bring in his first score of the game.

He would go on to score on a similar fade route later in the game, this time going in the opposite direction from a right slot alignment.

Out of all his plays, though, the one I liked most was the filthy route he gave on this stutter-and-go.

I think what’s most impressive about all of that for Nabers is his hands may be the best part of his game; he is a natural pass receiver and does not have to fight with his hands to bring passes in.

If I had to guess, Nabers will probably be in the high 4.40, or low 4.50 range once he tests for the 40-yard dash in the draft process. But that should not matter; whether it’s Davante Adams, Deandre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, or the greatest of all time, Jerry Rice, many of the top receivers in the NFL are not your traditional burner types.

To me, Nabers compares similarly to Jaxson Smith-Njigba in terms of frame, route running ability, soft hands, and sneaky-good athleticism. Nabers may even be a touch more of an athlete than JSN. But his game is much more predicated on his polish rather than his physical skill.

Richie Leonard IV, LG #67, Florida

After two career starts over his first three seasons in Gainesville, the 6-foot-2, 310-pound guard has emerged in the Gators starting lineup this fall. Florida has to be proud of the Cocoa, FL. native as he makes a name for himself here in 2023. He may be considered an average-sized offensive guard, but that does not stop Leonard from bringing a dawg mentality into his play.

Let’s start with how stout Leonard is in pass protection. Reps like these were on display for most of the night with him.

His strength shows right away as he’s able to anchor down at the point of attack.

Just look at how he’s able to move his feet and move with the defender, and even having the right adjustment to the late line stunt from the Vols.

As I mentioned earlier, Leonard’s strength really was evident throughout the matchup, which he also showed off several times in the run game.

He can be a position blocker at times, but he really becomes a cinderblock that defenders don’t get through. It’s a little more understandable for a player with his profile to use this type of technique, which is not ideal but can be effective for Leonard when he needs to do so.

This may have been his best block of the night, which only resulted in a 2-yard carry for Etienne. But more plays like this or this block here in the red zone on tape will help him draw interest from teams at the next level.

It’s amazing seeing him being able to dominate guys with his physicality. I do worry about him getting stuck a bit at times, but he showed that his effort and intensity, even on a losing rep, is admirable.

Leonard, a junior, is looking great thus far this season at guard, so there could be more for him as the Gators look to get back to their first SEC Championship Game since the 2020 season.

Keep An Eye Out for Trevor Etienne, RB #7, Florida

If the Etienne name sounds familiar, then it should — the sophomore tailback is the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguar RB Travis Etienne. But if his 719 rushing yards,6 touchdowns, and 6.1 yards per carry as a freshman didn’t catch your attention, then his dazzling effort against Tenessee should make you a believer in his talent.

The younger Etienne rushed for 172 yards and a score, one that went for 62 big ones to help the Gators cap off one of the 2023 season’s early upsets.

But he is also a smart, efficient runner and shows he can be patient when following behind his blockers.

I like that even as a smaller back (5-9, 205 pounds) his shiftiness is matched by his determination to break tackles.

I think one of the greatest displays of his explosiveness was this 2nd-and-8 carry that became a first-down tote.

The jump cut in the hole; the hurdle on the outside; the toughness at the end rather than heading out of bounds. Etienne showed he can be one of the premier backs to watch as the Gators vie for the SEC East amongst two-time defending National Champion Georgia. He put the game away with this hard-charging scamper too to get himself over 170 rushing yards for the first time in his 16-career games as a Gator.

I think if there is any drawback to consider, Etienne is a smaller back. A little more help up front may have aided Etienne’s cause, but I think his smaller stature played a role in some of these red-zone struggles on this series.

So he may not be your primary back in the red zone if he were to make it to the NFL. What I will credit the Jennings, LA. native for on this drive is the fact that despite his more diminutive size, he is a willing blocker as well.

Etienne was able to follow up a tough Week 1 performance by bouncing back against McNeese. But Etienne’s best showing yet was this outing against the Volunteers and he could just be heating up here in his sophomore campaign. If he keeps this up, Travis won’t be the only Etienne brother playing on Sundays.

Week 4 Matchup to watch: Laiatu Latu, DE #15, UCLA vs. Sataoa Laumea, RT #78, Utah

We’ve got a real heavyweight bout in the trenches with these two returning First-Team All-Pac-12 selections making their way back for another season. They will do battle again after a high-flying 42-32 matchup in 2022 which the Bruins came out on top in.

Their first rep against each other was all Latu, catching Laumea off guard with the spin move (even though he was unable to get home with a sack).

Laumea was able to get Latu back later on, as the 6-foot-4, 311-pound tackle leaned on Latu to clear space for Tavian Thomas. The Rialto, CA native held his own against Latu and should be commended for how he matched up with one of the nation’s top edge players.  One of my favorite reps from Laumea on the opening drive was this here where he was able to recover and power down to cut off Grayson Murphy in pass pro.

One area I’d like to see Laumea improve in is he often times opens up his inside/power foot, which creates lanes in both the run and pass games.

That’s a nasty habit to work through and will be crucial to hone in on if he is to continue to progress as a player, which is frustrating when he’s able to put together reps of this quality on tape as well.

And he also has the strength to move guys off their spots in the run game; just look at how he shifts Bo Calvert off the line here.

But I don’t want to harp too much on those issues; Laumea is a very polished pass protector and settled in nicely there as the game played out.

As for Latu, he showed some versatility in the game, lining up at defensive tackle here, but also dropping into pass coverage as an outside linebacker.

And he’s got a high level of pursuit as well, so he can make plays in the run game, like shrugging off Buffalo Bills TE Dalton Kincaid in this split-zone action.

But what’s very clear is he is a natural as a pass rusher. Even though he missed out on this sack, I love the move he hit Braeden Daniels with on this play. I just like his activity as a pass rusher and I feel like he’s drawing so much interest as an NFL prospect because he can be a real chess piece at the next level.


Aside from not always being the biggest stalwart in the run game, Latu’s biggest drawback may be his injury history having suffered a neck injury that cost him the 2020 and 2021 seasons while playing for Pac-12 rival Washington.

Thankfully, he was able to put that behind him for a stellar 2022 campaign (36 total tackles, 10.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss). And he’s already back at it in 2023 — Latu’s three-sack performance against Costal Carolina to kick off the season was just a reminder of how dominant of a player he’s developed into. Chanticleers QB Grayson McCall might still be having nightmares of the Sacramento, CA native to this day.

We’re in for a treat with this one folks. And a battle that pits the No. 11 Utah and No. 22 UCLA, respectively, this matchup could have many implications as to who we’ll see play in the Pac-12 Championship in December. The first weekend of the fall couldn’t be any better.

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2023 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2022 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2022 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat the sexual abuse of children. 

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