December 29th Bowl Scouting Guide

December 26, 2016

logoSouth Florida Bulls (10-2) vs South Carolina Gamecocks
1:00 CST on ESPN

South Florida Prospects
#5 RB Marlon Mack
#3 CB Deatrick Nichols

South Carolina Prospects
#74 LT Mason Zandi
#8 DE Marquavius Lewis
#11 LB TJ Holloman

This game doesn’t jump out at you for top NFL Draft prospects but does give ups a nice little battle between Bulls RB Marlon Mack and Gamecock LB TJ Holloman. Mack has been the focal point for South Florida’s power spread rushing attack amassing 3,500 yards rushing for his career and could declare for the draft. Trying to stop him will be Holloman who isn’t the best athlete but has good read and react skills putting himself around the ball on every play. Playing the inside linebacker position if he’s able to control the middle and force Mack to bounce it out that could help the Gamecocks slow him down.

Outside of those two prospects the other name to keep an eye on is South Florida’s cornerback Deatrick Nichols who is an underclassman, so if he doesn’t declare for the 2017 draft he is a name to keep an eye on for the 2018 cornerback class. Nichols is a two time All AAC selection who had 8 interceptions and 12 pass breakups this past season largely due to his aggressive attacking nature. He isn’t the biggest at 5’10 but you can’t teach ball skills.

belk_bowl_logoArkansas Razorbacks (7-5) vs Virginia Tech Hokies (9-4)
4:30 CST on ESPN

Arkansas Prospects
#80 WR Drew Morgan
#4 WR Keon Hatcher
#83 TE Jeremy Sprinkle
#70 LT Dan Skipper
#55 DE Jeremiah Ledbetter
#48 DE Deatrich Wise
#51 LB Brooks Ellis
#29 CB Jared Collins

Virginia Tech Prospects
#45 RB Sam Rogers
#1 WR Isaiah Ford
#7 TE Bucky Hodges
#72 RG Augie Conte
#71 RT Jonathan McLaughlin
#4 DE Ken Ekanem
#60 NT Woody Baron
#8 DT Nigel Williams
#19 FS Chuck Clark
#31 CB Brandon Facyson

Year in and year out the Belk Bowl has provided us with some quality games and been loaded with plenty of NFL Draft prospects. This year is no different as the ACC Coastal Division Champions take on a talented but underachieving Razorbacks squad and provides three quality prospect battles.

Virginia Tech junior wide receiver Isaiah Ford is a fun player to watch showing good change of direction ability and acceleration to create separation on double moves. Arkansas will likely send their best corner on Ford and that’s Jared Collins. Collins hasn’t had the best year and could use a big bowl performance to improve his stock. While Ford is good he’s not alone with tight end playing receiver Bucky Hodges whose 6’7 but moves well using power and deceptive speed to wreak havoc in the middle of the field.

When Arkansas as the ball we know they’re going to run the ball behind their massive offensive line headlined by 6’10 320lb left tackle Dan Skipper who despite his size moves well. He’ll see plenty of Hokie defensive end Ken Ekanem is a straight line athlete using his speed and power to get underneath tackles. Ekanem needs to show he can win against bigger tackles and still hold up in the run game. He’ll have his work cut out against Skipper.

Virginia Tech isn’t the only tight end of note where Arkansas’s Jeremy Sprinkle is attracting quite the attention. Coming in at 6’6 255lbs Sprinkle is your traditional tight end lining up inline quite a bit. But he’s much more than just a blocker showing he can get out in coverage finding open areas and having enough straight line speed to make plays. With Virginia Tech having to play eight in the box that means free safety Chuck Clark could have Sprinkle has his responsibility. Clark is hidden in a deep safety class but showing he can match up against a bigger tight end to go with his coverage skills will only make him more attractive to NFL teams.

alamobowllogoOklahoma State Cowboys (9-3) vs Colorado Buffaloes (10-3)
8:00 CST on ESPN

Oklahoma State Prospects
#2 QB Mason Rudolph
#28 WR James Washington
#47 TE Blake Jarwin
#77 LT Victor Salako
#20 LB Jordon Burton
#6 CB Ashton Lamkin
#13 FS Jordan Sterns

Colorado Prospects
#13 QB Sefo Liufau
#74 C Alex Kelley
#58 NT Josh Tupou
#31 LB Kenneth Olugbode
#98 OLB Jimmie Gilbert
#4 CB Chidobe Awuzie
#23 CB Ahkello Witherspoon
#9 SS Tedric Thompson

Out of all the Non New Year’s Six Bowls, the Alamo Bowl has be my favorite mainly because of the city of San Antonio and the fact that they always get a tremendous match up. Oklahoma State was one of the best teams in the Big 12 while Colorado lost in the Pac 12 Title game. This should be an exciting game as we see the strength of Oklahoma being their explosive offense go against the strength of Colorado in their experienced defense.

Oklahoma State has thrived on offense behind two talented juniors (both rumored to be returning to school) in quarterback Mason Rudolph and receiver James Washington. Rudolph lacks the gifted arm talent to make him a high first round pick, but can make enough plays and distributes the ball well, mainly to his big play threat James Washington. Washington has good speed and tracks the ball well putting stress on defensive backs to try and stay step for step with him. Getting the assignment to slow him down likely falls on Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Awuzie has the size and the length to make plays on the ball but his biggest question is his deep speed. Showing that he can run with a premier deep threat should only help out. But likely the Buffaloes want to help Awuzie out and could send over safety Tedric Thompson to help out. Thompson is a strong safety by position but could also use a big game against a high powered offense to show he can play back in coverage.

Outside of this match up there are plenty of prospects to watch. Oklahoma State isn’t a great defensive team but outside linebacker Jordan Burton is an above average athlete who could be a late round pick who makes his way on a team with his special teams ability. Whereas safety Jordan Sterns and cornerback Ashton Lampkin are underrated defensive backs. For Colorado the name to keep an eye on is nose tackle Josh Tupou who is one of the better run stuffing 3-4 nose tackles in the nation. He won’t get drafted high but he could find a role as an early down run stuffer.

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