Friday (12/28) 5:30 pm EST on ESPN
Rutgers vs Virginia Tech, Russell Athletic Bowl
This should be another great matchup midway through the bowl season, pitting a very talented Rutgers defense against a quarterback and receiver pair with plenty of perceived “upside.” That player is junior QB Logan Thomas (#3/6’6/260), and although he entered the season with much acclaim he failed to take a step in the right direction, in terms of quarterback progression, all season. We actually think it would be the right decision for him to declare for April’s draft and get paid while improving his game (hopefully) in the NFL. That opinion is partially due to the fact that he may not progress under Beamer next season, either. WR Marcus Davis (#7/6’4/232) has plenty of size and speed, but his hands are unreliable and his blocking is suspect. Still, after his workouts, we wouldn't be surprised by a late second day, early third day selection. If Davis can stay on the field, Rutgers junior CB Logan Ryan (#11/6’0/190) will get the call to cover him. Ryan is a fringe first-round projection right now and appears to be split 50/50 on declaring for April’s draft. Many evaluators love what OLB Khaseem Greene (#20/6’1/230), a former safety, brings to the table. When he sees the ball carrier he attacks with a wide range of mobility. DT Scott Vallone (#94/6’3/278) is a third day prospect to watch, along with T Nick Becton (#54/6’6/318), who we believe is not getting enough publicity for a back end roster type prospect.
Rutgers’ NFL talent doesn’t end there, as two redshirt sophomores will draw significant NFL interest whenever they leave for the next level. RB Jawan Jamison (#23/5’8/200) is short and compact, utilizing quick cuts to make many defenders miss at the second level. His comfort behind blockers or in space is a valuable combination. LBs Bruce Taylor (#51/6’2/244) and LB Jack Tyler (#58/6’1/236) both have a tough assignment on their hands to keep Jamison under wraps. WR Brandon Coleman (#17/6’5/220) is a big bodied target that can create separation at the catch point or win in contested situations. He needs room to stride to get up to top speed, but the bottom line is that he makes plays. Junior CB Kyle Fuller (#17/6’0/193) does not mind getting physical through routes and junior CB/S Antone Exum (#1/6’0/224) has put up an excellent season thus far. FInally, TE D.C. Jefferson (#10/6’5/258) has been underutilized outside of the redzone in 2012, but is asked to line up inline at times. He could have a tough job trying to hold onto junior DE James Gayle (#99/6’4/268). Gayle is still mulling his NFL decision, but the added weight he put on this year shows when attacking blockers. T RJ Dill (#76/6’7/300) could have a long day ahead of him.
Other Prospects To Watch
ILB Steve Beauharnais (#42/6’2/235)
SS Duron Harmon (#32/6’1/201)
WR Mark Harrison (#81/6’3/230)
CB Brandon Jones (#25/6’0/186)
DE J.R Collins (#42/6’1/261)
DT Antoine Hopkins (#56/6’1/313)
junior DT Derrick Hopkins (#97/6’0/306)
WR D.J. Coles (#18/6’4/226)
S Detrick Bonner (#8/6’0/198) rSoph
WR Dyrell Roberts (#11/6’1/195)
Friday (12/28) 9:00 pm EST on ESPN
Minnesota vs Texas Tech, Car Care Bowl
With Tommy Tuberville departing to Cincinnati, Texas Tech’s defensive consistency is more concerning than their ability to put up points. The Red Raiders’ passing defense has been solid all year long, but we’ll see if that can continue. QB/WR MarQueis Gray(#5/6’4/250) is expected to see more snaps at quarterback in his final collegiate game, and he may create downfield lanes with his running ability. S Cody Davis (#16/6’2/204) will certainly be spying on this possibility, but he needs to make sure not to over pursue, especially on play action. T Ed Olson (#58/6’7/320) is a viable blocker that likely has a shot to make an NFL roster.
On defense, the Golden Gophers’ top prospect is junior DT Ra’Shede Hageman (#99/6’5/302), although he already committed on returning for his senior season. The decision was surprising since Hageman’s frame fits that of a future five technique end in a three man front, a position that is usually drafted sooner than expected. QB Seth Doege (#7/6’1/200) will be attending the East-West Shrine Game in less than two weeks, and could catch on as a late round pick. His top target is WR Darrin Moore (#14/6’4/216), a longer receiver that is not spectacular in any one area.
Other Prospects To Watch
WR Brandon Green (#1/6’0/190)
DE D.L. Wilhite (#95/6’3/245)
ILB Mike Rallis (#26/6’2/245)
OLB Spencer Reeves(#8/6’2/225)
OLB Keanon Cooper (#4/6’0/220)
CB Troy Stoudermire (#2/5’10/195)
CB Kyle Henderson (#14/5’11/185)
junior FS Brock Vereen (#21/6’0/195)
Friday (12/28) 2:00 pm EST on ESPN
Louisiana Monroe vs Ohio, Independence Bowl
At this point there are no true draft prospects in this matchup, but we will notify you on twitter if that needs updating.
Thursday (12/27) 9:45 pm EST on ESPN
Baylor vs UCLA, Holiday Bowl
Expect scoring, and lots of it. For Baylor, it is all about the connection between QB Nick Florence (#11/6’1/205) and WR Terrance Williams (#2/6’2/205). FLorence’s NFL projection is bleak, but he is definitely a capable NCAA quarterback. His ability to buy time in the pocket and make quick decisions on vertical routes is exactly what baylor needs. Williams has really improved this year in terms of winning the battle at the catch point. In previous seasons he did not have the most reliable hands, but now Williams uses his entire frame and has not lost his vertical speed. He could be a Torrey Smith type option in the NFL. UCLA has two capable corners to match up with Williams and WR Lanear Sampson (#3/5’11/205) in CB Sheldon Price (#22/6’1/180) and bigger bodied CB Aaron Hester (#21/6’1/206). Luckily, UCLA deploys two excellent pass rushers. First, DL Datone Jones (#56/6’4/280) attacks with an explosive first step and power on initial contact from all along the defensive line. Outside, junior OLB Anthony Barr (#11/6’5/238) has really excelled this season, utilizing natural length and closing speed to consistently make a home in the backfield. Barr stated that he will return for his senior season, but nothing is official until the dotted line is signed. C Ivory Wade (#78/6’3/310) and improving junior T Cyril Richardson (#68/6’5/335) have their work cut out for them. The x factor is junior RB Lache Seastrunk (#9/5’9/205). The thickly built runner has turned Baylor’s offense into a complete attack with his big play carries.
For UCLA, RB Johnathan Franklin (#23/5’10/195) has been a workhorse type back all season. He looks leaner and meaner in terms of his running style, which is a great combination. The Bruins finally started utilizing TE Joseph Fauria (#8/6’7/252) correctly, moving away from his trap blocking, H-back position and now lining him up as a glorified receiver. Junior S/LB hybrid Ahmad Dixon (#6/6’0/210) may have a long night trying to stick with the much taller Fauria.
Other Prospects To Watch
LB Terrance Lloyd (#11/6’3/235)
CB Joe Williams (#22/5’9/182)
TE Jordan Najvar (#18/6’5/260)
S Sam Holl (#25/6’1/200)
S Mike Hicks (#17/5’10/200)
CB K.J. Morton (#8/5’9/178)
CB Chance Casey (#9/5’11/185)
junior DE Cassius Marsh (#99/6’4/295)
Thursday (12/27) 6:30 pm EST on ESPN
Cincinnati vs Duke, Belk Bowl
The Bearcats take their talents from one Queen City to another, but Duke is obviously playing closer to home. The Blue Devils best weapon is WR Conner Vernon (#2/6’1/200), a prospect many will compare to Danny Amendola. We would like to see him give more effort in the running game, but Vernon is fearless when working across the middle. His success is all linked to QB Sean Renfree (#19/6’4/225), who missed some time with concussion-like symptoms this season. His release and motion are very upright, but we aren’t sure if Renfree can stretch the field. Their main opposition across the line is ILB Greg Blair (#51/6’2/252). The Bearcats top pass rushing option. OLB Walter Stewart, was forced to end his playing career after a spine injury, but Blair has been a nice surprise. S Drew Frey (#26/6’3/212) had some looking his way prior to the season, but he seems to lack range for the position.
After Isaiah Pead graduated to the NFL, many Cincinnati fans likely wondered what they were left with at the running back position. Enter RB George Winn (#32/5’11/210), who lacks the same versatility from a pass catching standpoint but is comfortable running between the tackles. There’s very little flash to his game, but Winn picks up what is blocked, which has been more than enough this season. TE Travis Kelce (#18/6’5/260) has really come along in 2012, using his large frame and long strides to win on intermediate routes. He could be one of those early third day names that ends up contributing as a second tight end in the NFL.
Other Prospects To Watch
QB Brandon Kay (#11/6’3/233)
WR Kembrell Thompkins (#7/6’1/192)
junior WR Anthony McClung (#6/6’0/172)
junior G Austen Bujnoch (#76/6’5/288)
DE Dan Giordano (#99/6’3/260)
CB Dominique Battle (#9/5’11/192)
CB Camerron Cheatham (#21/5’9/188)
DE Kenny Anunike (#84/6’4/260)
junior DT Sydney Sarmiento (#82/6’3/300)
junior CB Russ Cockrell (#6/6’0/182)
S Walt Canty (#4/6’0/218)
Thursday (12/27) 3:00 pm EST on ESPN
Bowling Green vs San Jose State, Military Bowl
Epic Fales. If you haven’t checked out Spartans junior QB David Fales (#10/6’3/220), you have missed out. Fales exhibits plenty of movement in the pocket and a willingness to test downfield with accuracy. Expect to hear the junior’s name heading into the 2013 season. His counterpart, TE Ryan Otten (#82/6’6/245), is a draftable player in his own right. The big tight end is a willing blocker that is at his best working downfield and adjusting to slightly off target throws. For the Falcons, DT Chris Jones (#91/6’1/295) has been an absolute menace all season along the defensive line. In the mold of Karl Klug, Jones likely will enter the NFL as a subpackage rusher with a chance to earn a larger role. He wins with a great motor and hand use. T David Quessenberry (#76/6'6/291) will have to deal with Jones occasionally, especially if Bowling Green continues to loop the relentless rusher around the edge. The passing game is RB DeLeon Eskridge’s (#2/5’11/215) best bet to find lanes on the inside. Stocky ILB Dwayne Woods (#5/5'11/228) will be waiting at the second level.
Bowling Green’s offense lacks the same kind of NFL prospects, with a sophomore RB and a junior QB in Matt Schilz. Still, T Jordan Roussos (#73/6'4/303) has a shot at the NFL if he shows the necessary footwork and balance. DE Travis Johnson (#43/6’3/244) is a nice test for Roussos. Well bodied junior ILB Vince Buhagiar (#36/6’4/237) continues to grow into his frame, while junior OLB Keith Smith (#31/6’1/229) has flashed sideline speed to chase down backs that drift to the edge.
Other Prospects To Watch
San Jose State
junior WR Noel Grigsby (#23/5’11/175)
Monday (12/24) 8:00 pm EST on ESPN
Fresno State vs SMU, Hawaii Bowl
For a game early in the bowl season, this contests features multiple players who will hear their names called in April. It all starts with Bulldogs junior QB Derek Carr (#4/6’3/210), who has already stated he will return for his final collegiate season. Sure, Carr is the brother of a formerly failed top pick and he certainly flashes falling off of his throws under pressure, but the junior can sling it. SMU DE Margus Hunt (#92/6’7/280) is a bulky edge rusher and many will be infatuated with his frame and workout numbers. There are times he displays attributes like other football players, but Hunt attacks with high pad level and fails to shed too often, so it remains to be seen if he can pressure Carr. LG Matt Hunt (#55/6’2/315) will do his best to anchor at the line of scrimmage. A personal favorite, RB Robbie Rouse (#8/5’7/190), is definitely one to keep track of. He may be short in size, but Rouse’s cuts in the open field to make defenders miss and willingness to work between the tackles is great to see. At the very least, he will have an opportunity to make a splash in the NFL due to his receiving ability. WLB Ja’Gared Davis (#56/6’0/235) and thickly built MLB Taylor Reed (#44/5’11/240) need to close under control when attacking Rouse at the second level. Finally, freshman WR Davante Adams (#15/6’2/200) has burst onto the scene and eased Bulldogs fans through the pain of losing WR Jalen Saunders to Oklahoma.
For SMU offensively, junior QB Garrett Gilbert (#11/6’4/210), a former Longhorn, has certainly seen his handful of struggles this season. It is nice to have a slot receiver like WR Darius Johnson (#3/5’10/175), who shows quickness out of breaks and an ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes. If SMU plans on working the short passing game, expect S Phillip Thomas (#16/6’1/215) to play closer to the line of scrimmage. Thomas is an absolute ball hawk and if he consistently shows those same skills moving aggressively towards the line of scrimmage, he has a real chance to be a top-50 pick. He definitely has a tough test to bring down RB Zach Line (#48/6’1/230) in the running game.
Other Prospects To Watch
MLB Travis Brown (#9/6’1/236)
junior 5DE Andy Jennings (#98/6’2/278)
Saturday (12/22) Noon EST on ESPN
ECU vs LA Lafayette, New Orleans Bowl
Two defensive prospects standout in this bowl clash. The first is ULL CB Melvin White (#22/6’2/191), a long prospect that does his best work closing on the edge against the run. You will be hard pressed to find a corner that can match White’s physical style. There is no such thing as illegal contact in college football, so teams will need to decipher whether or not White will be called for far more penalties at the NFL level. DT Cordian Hagans (#93/6’5/280) offers projected five technique frame and length, which is definitely something ECU junior G Jordan Davis (#78/6’3/301) will have to contend with.
For the Pirates, redshirt sophomore NT Terry Williams (#54/6’1/327) is their best talent on defense and is quite a load to move off the line of scrimmage. He and five technique DE/DT Michael Brooks (#92/6’3/276) will battle RT Jaron Odom (#76/6’6/330) in the Pirates three man front. Odom and the rest of the ULL line hope to provide enough time for WR Javone Lawson (#4/6’1/183) to get open downfield.
Saturday (12/22) 3:30 pm EST on ESPN
Boise State vs Washington, Las Vegas Bowl
Huskies junior QB Keith Price (#17/6’1/202) entered the season with high expectations after lower body injuries limited his production in 2011. Price failed to meet these expectations showing a lack of velocity to hit necessary throws under pressure. This is great news for feisty CB Jerrell Gavins (#4/5’9/169) and second-team all conference CB Jamar Taylor (#5/5’11/196). Neither will like covering sophomore TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who will enter the 2013 season as one of the nation’s top prospects regardless of position.
For Boise State, RB D.J. Harper’s (#7/5’9/205) emergence this season has been a blessing. The senior has dealt with a multitude of injuries during his career, but put together a very productive season with some eye popping runs after refusing to go down on contact. The Broncos other offensive option is long redshirt sophomore WR Matt Miller (#2/6’3/215). Miller wins with smoothness and route combinations, so CB Desmond Trufant (#6/6’0/186) will need to pick out his tendencies in order to run Miller’s routes for him. The draft community seems to be split on Trufant, who has NFL bloodlines, but has a tendency to get beat due to aggressiveness.
Other Prospects To Watch
G Joe Kellogg (#61/6’3/305)
FB Dan Paul (#47/6’1/262)
junior S Sean Parker (#1/5’10/190)
C Drew Schaefer (#73/6’4/294)
Thursday (12/20) 8:00 pm EST on ESPN
BYU vs San Diego State, Poinsettia Bowl
Defensively, the Cougars top talent (and one of the top upside prospects in the country) is DE/OLB Ezekiel Ansah (#47/6’6/270). We’ve said a lot of Ansah, but our own Alen Dumonjic wrote a full feature here. Aztecs junior T Bryce Quigley (#78/6’5/295) will draw one assignment of stopping Ansah on the edge, but the large pass rusher is used from a variety of spots, including on the interior. In those situations, G Nik Embernate (#68/6’4/300) would be wise to get his hands on Ansah and latch on for the ride. As far as versatile linebackers go, not many are more aware of his responsibility on the field than junior OLB Kyle Van Noy (#3/6’3/235). His toughest test may come in the form of junior TE Gavin Escobar (#88/6’6/255), a large receiver who is also an adequate blocker. The rest of the Cougars back seven, specifically ILB Brandon Ogletree (#44/5’11/228), ILB Uona Kaveinga (#4/5’11/233), and junior S Daniel Sorensen (#9/6’2/215) will need to keep their eyes on Escobar while not forgetting about oversized WR Brice Butler (#19/6’3/205).
With BYU’s offense on the field, look no further than junior WR Cody Hoffman (#4/6’4/215) matching up with Senior Bowl invite CB Leon McFadden (#2/5’10/190). In fact, don’t take your eyes off of these two. Hoffman is an overly smooth receiver that wins with technique and body control. McFadden is giving up plenty of size in this battle but flashes feistiness, especially at the catch point.
Other Prospects To Watch
CB Preston Hadley (#7/6’0/200)
T Braden Brown (#75/6’6/300)
G Braden Hansen (#76/6’6/307)
junior TE Kaneakua Friel (#82/6’5/250)
San Diego State
junior WR Colin Lockett (#24/6’0/180)
WR Dominique Sandifer (#18/6’0/195)
junior WR Dylan Denso (#10/6’2/205)
Friday (12/21) 7:30 pm EST on ESPN
Ball State vs UCF, St. Petersburg Bowl
I guess you could do worse on a Friday night. Both teams’ talent is weighted towards the defensive side of the field, but UCF has an intriguing bigger back in RB Latavius Murray (#28/6’3/222). The Ball State defense has struggled against the run, and despite his bulk Murray is a capable passing down college back that does his best work at the tackle point. While LB Travis Freeman (#8/6’0/235) romas the second level, junior DE Jonathan Newsome (#11/6’3/236) will need to make the most of the possibly limited passing situations, something he certainly has done this season. Also, this will be a good test for a CB like Jason Pinkston (#6/6’1/183) in terms of setting and keeping the edge without showing fear while tackling a hefty back.
For the Golden Knights, their defense deploys some intriguing prospects. First is fire hydrant OLB Jonathan Davis (#11/5’9/202), a former running back who loves to run through contact and find lanes to fill gaps in trash. DE Troy Davis (#58/6’2/249), also from Lawrenceville, Georgia, but not a brother to Jonathan, has put forth productive numbers the last three seasons. The bigger Davis has shown an ability to get after the quarterback this year and even separating the ball at the point of attack.
Saturday (12/15) 1:00 pm EST on ESPN
Arizona vs Nevada, New Mexico Bowl
This bowl features college football’s top two rushers in terms of average yards per game. The first is Nevada junior RB Stefphon Jefferson (#25/5’11/210), a desirable framed runner who strides a bit upright. Because of that pad level, Jefferson does take some carries for a loss, but a lot of his production can be attributed to his blocking, as the junior likes to stick to his running lane. For that reason, G Chris Barker (#75/6’4/305) and long T Jeffrey Nady (#78/6’7/305) need to stick to their blocks and create push. TE Zach Sudfeld (#44/6’7/255) returned from an injury but can certainly hold his own as a blocker. Wildcats junior LB/S Marquis Flowers (#2/6’2/221) can fly around the field and makes plays in the backfield quite frequently. Nevada junior TE Kolby Arendse (#86/6’3/255) is more of an H-back type.
For Arizona, sophomore RB Ka’Deem Carey (#25/5’10/203) has come out of nowhere to lead the nation in rushing yards per game, something that is fairly uncharacteristic under head coach Rich Rodriguez. It certainly helps to have a powerful lead blocker in FB Taimi Tutogi (#31/6’1/260), who can also catch passes and occasionally take carries between the tackles. In terms of passing, QB Matt Scott (#10/6’2/195) will definitely get looks in the NFL due to his ability to buy time and hit targets accurately, like large WR Dan Buckner (#4/6’3/215). Nevada S Duke Williams(#5/6’1/200) is an intriguing third day option and is occasionally used in the slot in man coverage on quicker receivers. C Kyle Quinn (#76/6’3/294) will likely earn a draftable grade as well, and OLB Jeremiah Green(#54/6’2/235) could be a possible air backer due to his range.
Other Prospects To Watch
junior CB Shaquille Richardson (#5/6’1/188)
G Trace Biskin (#72/6’5/282)
DB Khalid Wooten (#2/6’0/200)
Saturday (12/15) 4:30 pm EST on ESPN
Toledo vs Utah State, Idaho Potato Bowl
There may not be talent across the board in this game, but Aggies CB Will Davis (#17/6’0/186) could end up being a second day selection. We certainly feel he has that level of talent after just one full season as a starter. Toledo junior QB Terrance Owens (#2/6’4/195) uses his feet and arm to make plays, so DE Bojay Filimoeatu(#55/6’2/258) will need to keep the edge while pressing the pocket to limit functional space. Junior RB David Fluellen (#22/6’0/215) is a nice option to pick up the more difficult yards. Davis is the one to watch, however, specifically if he can contain his aggressive style while in man coverage and not overextend or guess incorrectly to lose positioning.
Utah State RB Kerwynn Williams (#25/5’8/189) has impressed many, including SI’s Tony Pauline and Scouts Inc.’s Kevin Weidl due to his “versatility.” Williams offers some straight-line burst to go along with more than capable receiving abilities. Toledo lacks veteran defenders to stop the multi-faceted back, but S Jermaine Robinson(#29/6’2/205) will need to worry about WR Chuck Jacobs (#10/6’0/178) and TE Kellen Bartlett (#81/6’2/248) as receiving targets.
Other Prospects To Watch
junior C Zac Kerin (#67/6’5/300)
junior WR Bernard Reedy (#1/5'9/175)