Each week we're going to give out the proverbial game ball to whomever had the college football performance and talk about their chances in the NFL.
This week's game ball winner is Boston College junior inside linebacker Luke Kuechly. In a tough 20-19 loss to Duke Saturday, Kuechly had an incredible 23 tackles. It made the 18- and 17-tackle performances the previous two weeks look pedestrian. On the season, Kuechly has 19 more tackles than the next closest player, Houston's Marcus McGraw.
Kuechly is on pace for 232 tackles on the season. While such statistic projections aren't realistic, and silly as a result, it's likely Kuechly could top more than 200 tackles this season. The most tackles in a season since 2000 was 193 by Lawrence Flugence. If you know who Flugence is, you're a bigger nerd than me.
As a pro, Kuechly projects to being much better than Flugence, who was a free agent pickup by the Carolina Panthers before spending some time in NFL Europe. Kuechly is as an instinctual linebacker as there is in the nation and he gets after the ball in a hurry. If Kuechly is coming at a running back, he should try to turn around and run the other way as Kuechly is hard to avoid.
The problem Kuchely may have is how well he tests out at the NFL Scouting Combine. If he runs in the 4.7 range, he'll probably not get picked in the top 15. But whatever team gets him will get an immensely productive player who projects as a starter for years.