Towing the Line: Khari Demos Talks College Football Weeks 5 & 6

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. 

Jeremy Flax, RT #77, Kentucky

Before this matchup with the Gators, I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Flax’s game. But I’m all on board with him now. I’m a fan of how powerful the 6-foot-6, 325-pound tackle is and he should be lauded because he played a vital piece in Ray Davis blasting the Florida defense for 289 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns.

I mean literally from Play One on, Flax was on the Gator defenders’ a**es in the run game.


He threw guys left and right, and it was a theme that occurred throughout the game for the Wildcats.

Princely Umanmielen had to of been fed up with the Independence Community College transfer (yes, the school from Netflix’s ‘Last  Chance U’) because he got after him several times throughout this SEC battle.

I like that Flax is nimble enough to mirror guys as well in space in pass protection.

And although he dropped his head as he engaged with the defender here, Flax still won this rep and helped keep QB Devin Learly clean by leading an offensive line unit that allowed zero sacks on the day.

Now, I will say, this rep was not necessarily his best work, and it did pop up again later on in the game.

But I’m not worried about that in particular because these are plays that he can get coached up on in terms of technique at the next level. Backside cutoff blocks are some of the toughest to make, whether at the line of scrimmage or the second level. I think Flax’s potential to be a road-grading tackle supersede that flaw there and will only give him one point of emphasis to key in on as he continues to work through his senior season.

But again, Flax’s sheer physical dominance should help him rise in the eyes of NFL scouts.

He was named the SEC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week for his display against Florida and he should be a name to watch moving forward as we get into the meat of the season. It’s taken some time for Flax to grow into the player we’re seeing today, but if he keeps this going, defenders will begrudgingly have to deal with the Detroit, MI native for the foreseeable future.

Keep An Eye Out for Ray Davis, RB #1

After this one, I’m calling Davis ‘Sweet Baby Ray,’ because he was saucing up Gator defenders all game long. After two fairly productive stints at Temple and Vanderbilt, Davis is becoming a household name for the now No. 20-ranked Wildcats. While he may be blowing up now for his 280-rushing yard performance, Davis had been putting together a strong start to 2023. Davis as he’s amassed 70+ yards from scrimmage in each game this season. But nothing, of course, compares to this career-high output and the third-highest rushing mark in UK history.

From Davis’ first carry of the game on, you can see he’s got the wiggle to smoke defenders in open space, and some speed to evade them.

I like that even after burying his head a bit to start out this carry, he bounces off defenders, then breaks loose by once again cutting on a dime to reach a first down.

Davis is not afraid of the meat and potatoes plays either; rather than dancing around here, the San Francisco, CA native put his head down and bowled a defender over to pick up four yards.

Davis also has pretty strong vision. Rather than trying to freelance or bounce things outside here, he followed along the path his blockers made for him on this power play, took the available lane, and was able to pick up another Wildcats first down.

Now although he wasn’t able to haul in this reception (mainly because of the indecision on the throw here), I am encouraged by the fact that Kentucky is even lining him up out wide.

And the numbers back making that move too; Davis has 11 receptions for 146 yards and three TDs (more on that in a minute), which includes a three-catch, 97-yard, one-TD outing against Akron. Plus, Davis was able to atone for Leary’s mistake with his third receiving score of the season on this amazing effort to ward off three defenders.

I feel like what is so evident about Davis’ game is his patience as a runner. He continuously showed he could hide behind his blockers and scurry into the open field, just like he did on this toss-sweep play, here on this second-quarter carry in the red zone, or even this tote here where he makes another Gator look silly in the open field.


He was able to do the same here, but he followed that patience with a burst that allowed him to push on for the first down.

Speaking of that burst, he put that on display all throughout this matchup with the Gators, like he did on this first-down tote below, and of course on his 75-yard TD late in the first quarter.

Yes, some may point out Florida’s poor tackling throughout, but Davis was able to take advantage of that poor tackling with one of the greatest performances in UK history, let alone one of the top performances thus far in 2023.

One thing I would like to see from Davis is if he can be a factor as a blocker. I do appreciate his effort here on this cut block, though, but it’ll be intriguing to see what he can do when he’s pitted against blitzers mano a mano in pass pro.

All I can really say is that aside from that, Davis has a lot of tools to work with as a 5-foot-10, 216-pound back. From strong showings at Temple and Vandy to missing most of the 2021 season due to injury, it’s been a long road for Davis. Thankfully, he’s doing so at the right time, as he wraps up his collegiate tenure.

Keep an eye out for Payton Wilson, LB #11, NC State

What a road it’s been for the graduate linebacker. The Hillsborough, NC native led the Wolfpack in tackles in 2019 and 2020, including a First-Team All-ACC nod during that COVID season after 108 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, and three passes defended. His 2021 season was cut short due to injury, but he had a solid return during the 2022 campaign. Now, it looks like Wilson has regained his superpowers as one of the country’s top linebackers.

Wilson has been a tackling machine this season, recording nine or more stops in each game. He’s doing everything; he has 4.5 TFLs, two sacks, a pick, three pass breakups, a fumble recovery, and he even got a carry on offense. No wonder he was named the Butkus Award’s National Linebacker of the Month for September. But it’s much deeper than the stats; Wilson’s athleticism and relentless pursuit are so apparent when you turn on the tape.

Playing a lot of standup edge at the Will Backer position, Wilson was able to record two sacks in the loss to the Cardinals, including this rush here where he really just gave a hesitation move to skirt by this TE. And his crazy athleticism is matched by smarts and play recognition. After he swats down a pass, look how he’s able to hawk down Jack Plummer on this scramble play.


At 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, one has to be weary of plays like these with Wilson being a little lighter at the LB position.

But he does have a bigger frame than one would realize, so I think as he heads to the next level he’ll be able to add 5-12 more pounds to his frame but not lose that blazing speed. That is the calling card of many of the top LBs in the NFL today, from Fred Warner and Matt Milano to Roquan Smith and Nick Bolton. Just look at how he hawks down Notre Dame’s Chris Tyree. Plus he’s shown to be very comfortable in coverage too, picking off UCONN’s Joseph Fagnano for his fifth career INT and closing out the win for the Wolfpack.

Wilson does play with an edge too, which can get him in trouble at times, like this Kurt Angle-level suplex during NC State’s 2020 season opener. But that’s a trait you can dial back; it’s not one you can necessarily manufacture. This may sound old school, but I’d rather a linebacker who’s pushing it to the limit this way, rather than one you’ve got to push to be more hard-nosed.

Mr. Wilson, it’s been a pleasure watching your tape throughout the week. And I can’t wait to see what you do for the rest of 2023 and beyond.

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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