Most folks expected the opening weekend Auburn-Utah State game to be a blowout: the spread favored Auburn by more than three TDs. However, instead of the Tigers crushing their supposedly cupcake competition, their win wasn’t secured until late in the 4th quarter.
Auburn’s close call partly was due to the inspired play of Bobby Wagner. The instinctive Utah State linebacker made plays all over the field, including behind the line of scrimmage. He finished the game with 10 tackles, along with a sack and an additional tackle-for-loss.
And that was only the start of a great season for Wagner. The now three-time All-WAC ‘backer reached an entirely new level of production, notching 140 tackles, 4 sacks, and 10.5 tackles for loss. More importantly, he exhibited skills that will make him a quality starter at the next level.
Rather than a prospect who thrives by beating down lesser teams, Wagner has done some of his best work against high quality competition. Though only listed at 6’1″, 232 lbs., Wagner possesses very long arms, which allow him to keep blockers at bay. As a result, BYU’s big offensive linemen failed to faze him.
The same was true in the Auburn game, in which he exhibited another valuable commodity, pass rush ability. Most linebackers merely are blitzers: they get to the quarterback when given unobstructed access to the quarterback. Wagner, on the other hand, has flashed the potential to be a true pass rusher, a defender who uses his length and quick hands to win one-on-one matchups with offensive tackles.
The Aggies ultimately failed to secured upset victories in both matchups, but Wagner may be able to notch a surprise win on draft day. With his impressive skill set, it’s possible that he could come off the board before much more heralded prospects. In fact, the folks at NFL Draft Scout have him rated as their 50th overall prospect, ahead of a very big name in Vontaze Burfict.
Draftniks who want to get a look at Wagner will have a great opportunity Saturday evening in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Until then, here’s video of Wagner vs Auburn: