One of the trends going on more is a player being lined up in the linebacker/safety hybrid position. Maryland's Kenny Tate gets most of the attention doing this, but San Jose State senior Duke Ihenacho is another good example.
Ihenacho has good size at 6-foot and 205 pounds to play near the line but is fluid enough to drop back in coverage. He's playing the run more this season and his stats are showing it. Coming into tonight's game, Ihenacho is tied for second on the team in tackles with 40. He's done little against the pass this season, but he's shown in the past he's good in zone.
Unlike Tate, whose NFL position is an unknown, Ihenacho is strictly a safety at the next level. While Ihenacho may not have the size or athleticism to be a premier draft prospect, he's known as being a quick learner and a gym rat.
"He's very physical, not afraid to hit you. Has a good ability to track a ball," Ihenacho's head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "He's an intelligent young man and he's very passionate -- it's very important for him to be good."
Ihenacho looked to be a player to watch for the 2011 NFL Draft but only played two games last season after breaking his foot. Now the hybrid safety is back to looking like a legitimate draft prospect.
Other players to watch tonight:
- San Jose State junior tight end Ryan Otten won't be in the 2012 draft, but could be a sleeper in 2013. He has nice size and good hands.
- Hawaii always seems to have an unknown player go in the draft, and this year's could be linebacker Corey Paredes. He'll have to make a team as a special teams player, but he's a good tackler and disciplined.