We have finally reached bowl games which feature true depth of talent. On Monday, the Big Ten sends out two of its best teams from the West Division while we get to see if Western Michigan can notch its best win of the season. These games are not dripping with the talent you will have seen in the New Years’ Eve playoff games, but they’re the next best thing and something to whet your appetite as you recover from a hangover. We take a look below at the notable names to keep tabs on during Monday afternoon’s action.
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Outback Bowl: Florida vs. Iowa
Monday, January 2nd on ABC at 1:00 PM ET
The Florida Gators enter the Outback Bowl with a lot of intriguing yet mostly green talent, at least outside of the quarterback position. The most established talent is Antonio Callaway, a true playmaker who plays bigger than his 5’11”, 180 pound frame would indicate. He’s electric in the open field and consistently high points the football, which allows him to make big-time plays on the football despite a shorter stature. He’s a versatile weapon who can contribute all over the field; he’s in the early top ten receivers for 2018.
One guy who does the pass eye test with flying colors is true freshman Tyrie Cleveland. Physically, he has everything you could ever want with a 6’2”, 196 pound frame (with ample room to grow) and 4.4 wheels. His game is far from perfect at this juncture but in devy especially you’re simply looking for traits; he has plus skills in many areas and the physical upside to be dominant at the collegiate level.
The Gators have a pair of talented backs in Lamical Perine and Jordan Scarlett. The former is a bruiser with a north-south running style and good feet for a big man. The latter is a tough runner in his own right, though lacks the raw power of Perine. Scarlett relies more on a slashing running style and vision. I don’t know if either has superstar potential, though opportunity is king when it comes to running back production, and both have next level talent.
Iowa’s offensive strength (at least at the skill positions) is in its backfield, with senior Leshun Daniels Jr. and junior Akrum Wadley pacing the offense. Daniels has surpassed 1,000 yards with Wadley knocking on the door. I think Wadley is the more explosive talent and potentially a better prospect than some of the recent, productive Hawkeye backs, though I am not optimistic on either long-term.
Cotton Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin
Monday, January 2nd on ESPN at 1:00 PM ET
Western Michigan’s dream season is in large part thanks to the decision by Corey Davis to return for his senior season. He’s been as dominant as anyone could have hoped, capping a marvellous career with a 91/1,417/18 line heading in to Monday’s bowl game. At 6’3”, 213 pounds, he’s already equipped with NFL size, and you can see his athleticism improve each year he has been in college. His explosive ability – specifically after the catch – has gotten noticeably better. A refined route-runner who appears willing to put in the work based on his improvements, Davis is as bulletproof as a receiver prospect can get. You can dedicate scores of articles to his receiving prowess. Just tune in and enjoy the show.
Jarvion Franklin stormed onto the scene as a freshman with 1,551 yards and has rebounded in 2016 after a sophomore slump saw him tally only 735 yards. He’s got elite size at 6’1”, 228 pounds and complements the Bronco passing game perfectly with his move-the-chains style. I don’t see a game which screams NFL back to me, though he has enough in his toolkit to get a shot, either as a late round pick or priority free agent.
His backfield mate – Jamauri Bogan – is talented in his own right and is the proverbial lighting to Franklin’s thunder. Bogan actually opened the season as the lead back before succumbing to injury. His size is an obvious issue (5’7”, 187) but he’s a talented back with two more seasons of eligibility. He could find a role in some capacity.
The Broncos are led by senior quarterback Zach Terrell, who has started games in all four of his seasons – including three seasons as a full-time starter – and posted some huge numbers, including an absurd 32-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2016. Having Davis certainly helps, though Terrell is a very good college quarterback. There’s just not much to get excited about from a next level perspective. He may catch on to the back-end of a depth chart, but the upside is limited.
Wisconsin, as usual, is led by its running game. Corey Clement has long been a well-known commodity. He posted his first 1,000 yard season as a Badger in 2016 and has been a workhorse even with stacked boxes due to Wisconsin’s limited passing game. Despite solid numbers and plenty of name brand value, I am not big on Clement. I see him as just a guy at the next level. However, he will get a shot somewhere, though I expect a day three selection.
Bradrick Shaw looks like the heir apparent to Clement, and he has had a productive season in his own right. A downhill, no-nonsense runner, he works well behind the always bullying Badger offensive line. I don’t see a ton to fall in love with from an explosiveness and raw talent perspective, but he’s a name to monitor as he moves into his redshirt sophomore season in 2017.