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Arizona's Tuitama, Colorado State's Johnson kick off bowl season with a bang

The 2008-09 bowl season has kicked off, and of the dozens of pro prospects playing in the first five games, no individual stood out more than Arizona QB Willie Tuitama and Colorado State RB Gartrell Johnson.

Tuitama finished his roller coaster of a career on a high note, passing for 325 yards and two scores in a 31-21 victory over BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. The senior quarterback displayed good touch and accuracy throughout the evening, particularly on the deep ball. Leading the Wildcats to a pair of impressive victories in their final two outings -- Arizona beat Arizona State 31-10 in its regular-season finale -- certainly helps Tuitama's cause as a late-round prospect.

Johnson flat-out carried the Rams to victory just a few hours earlier. The 5-foot-11, 227-pound back rushed 27 times for 285 yards and two fourth-quarter scores in a 45-30 win against Fresno State. Granted, he isn't the first back to shred Fresno State's poor excuse for a run defense this season, but Johnson took it to a new level. His body control and competitiveness stood out as he consistently kept his balance and churned out yards after initial contact. Johnson also showed versatility as a receiver out of the backfield. He caught five passes for 90 yards, giving him 375 total yards on the afternoon.

Johnson's lack of elusiveness and breakaway speed will hurt him during the draft process, but he has proved he has enough quickness, power and run instincts -- in addition to valuable experience on special teams -- to warrant late-round or free-agent consideration.

Tuitama and Johnson won't be the only players to grab the attention of NFL scouts this bowl season, though. Here's a scouting primer for the remaining 29 games:

Five most anticipated individual matchups
• Alabama LOT Andre Smith vs. Utah DE Paul Kruger
• Texas WR Quan Cosby vs. Ohio State CB Malcolm Jenkins
• Cincinnati WR Marshwan Gilyard vs. Virginia Tech CB Victor Harris
• Iowa RB Shonn Greene vs. South Carolina MLB Jasper Brinkley and OLB Eric Norwood
• LSU LOT Ciron Black vs. Georgia Tech RDE Michael Johnson

The Top 32
Below is Scouts Inc.'s updated rankings of the top 32 prospects for the NFL draft. Underclassmen continue to dominate the list, and until the official decision date in mid-January, we will continue to include in our top 32 and overall rankings all underclassmen we deem worthy of a first-day (Rounds 1 and 2) grade.

(Note: * denotes draft-eligible junior; ** denotes draft-eligible third-year sophomore)

Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998.