Bowl Game Previews: December 31st

Nick Whalen


We are nearing the New Year’s Day bowls and the first ever playoff format in the top level of college football. Until then though, we have another trio of bowl games featuring some top prospects, including a potential first round dynasty rookie pick at running back.

December 31st Bowls

Chick-Fil-A-Peach Bowl
Mississippi vs Texas Christian
ESPN 12:30 p.m. EST

The loss of star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell to a broken ankle has had a big affect on the Mississippi offense. Quarterback Bo Wallace improved in his final season, but has thrown just two touchdowns compared to four interceptions since losing Treadwell. If Wallace wants to recoup some of his draft stock, he needs a good showing against a tough TCU defense. Sophomore tight end Evan Engram is a player to keep an eye on in devy drafts. He’s undersized as a tight end, but is very athletic. He’s stepped up well in Treadwell’s absence.

[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]

If haven’t watched the talented Texas Christian offense, you’re in for a treat. Junior quarterback Trevone Boykin is very talented and I wouldn’t be surprised if he declares for the NFL Draft. He may come in as my #2 or 3 quarterback, he’s that good. Boykin is similar to Cam Newton in that he has a good arm combined with great running ability. He checks in a little smaller than Newton and has less arm strength. But I believe that Boykin is a better overall passer than the Panthers’ leader, but not as good of a runner because he doesn’t have the power. His favorite target is the very athletic wide receiver Josh Dobson. Dobson has a long, lean frame and can use his vertical to win jump balls. One pleasant surprise midway through the season is running back Aaron Green who has emerged as the leading ball carrier after transferring from Nebraska in 2012. Green is an explosive runner with good hands and can score from anywhere on the field.

Vizio Fiesta Bowl
Boise State vs Arizona
ESPN 4:00 p.m. EST

If you’re looking for a work horse running back in the 2015 NFL Draft, look no further than Jay Ajayi of Boise State. He has amassed an incredible 370 touches already this season for over 2,000 total yards and 29 touchdowns. I wrote about Ajayi here, I apologize in advance for the link that stopped working after I wrote the article. However, it gives a lot of insight into Ajayi’s strengths and weaknesses as a prospect.

I’m very curious to see how Arizona quarterback Anu Soloman bounces back from his second half benching in the Pac-12 Championship game. He’s shown glimpses of good play this year, but needs to be more consistent. Freshman running back Nick Wilson has averaged 5.9 ypc for almost 1,300 yards this season. He’s a smaller back with decent athletic ability, but I have my doubts as to his next level potential. Wilson isn’t very dynamic and Rich Rodriguez’s offenses are very running back friendly. Arizona has three talented receivers that could play in the NFL in Cayleb Jones, Austin Hill, and Trey Griffey. Jones has been the Wildcats’ best wideout this season and he is still a sophomore. He has a long frame and has good body control. He really lacks good speed or else he would be a very good prospect. In 2012, Hill had 1,364 yards receiving and was a highly touted prospect, but he tore his ACL in 2013 and has been a shadow of himself in 2014. If he can get fully recovered, he could be a good late round target in rookie drafts.

Capital One Orange Bowl
Mississippi State vs Georgia Tech
ABC 3:30 p.m. EST

Dak Prescott was all the talk before the Alabama game and now Mississippi State lost two of their last three games. He’s a very talented quarterback that can run the ball as well, but he needs a good game to build up his value. One of the more underrated running backs heading into the draft process is Josh Robinson (if he declares) who has quietly gained almost 1,500 total yards. He has a thick frame and built low to the ground, which makes a powerful runner, think bowling ball type runner. De’Runnya Wilson is a huge target at 6’5 and is already in many top five lists for next year’s wideout class. He uses his frame well and is much more nimble than most wide receivers his size.

With the offense Georgia Tech runs, it’s difficult to identify prospects worth watching because they will have to learn a new scheme at the NFL level. How quickly that development happens and will they actually fit another offense are unknown factors. Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas made a successful transition from the Yellow Jackets, but Stephen Hill didn’t.

The next player in the line of athletic receivers from Georgia Tech is DeAndre Smelter. He’s a 6’3 player that wins on quickness more than overall speed. That alone makes him different than either Thomas or Hill. He adjusts well to the ball in the air and should be a key factor if the Yellow Jackets want to beat Mississippi State. Right now in the draft process, Smelter is underrated and he should be a riser come draft time.


nick whalen
Latest posts by Nick Whalen (see all)