DEEP FRIED DRAFT

I got to witness what was a record breaking Birmingham Bowl. 15 records were set in what was the first overtime game in the game’s history. Deebo Samuel set the receptions and receiving yards record (14-190). Jake Bentley set the completions and passing yardage records (32-390). Quentin Flowers was responsible for the most TD’s (5) and rushing TDs (3).

The experience is one I will never forget. I arrived at the stadium around 11:15 am for a 1 pm kickoff. Legion Field is not the best stadium I have ever been to, but it is not the worst either. The temperature for the game hovered around the upper 40’s. It was in the upper 70’s all week in Alabama until Thursday, so this wasn’t fun for me. I am not a cold weather guy, at all! It was a bit drafty in the press box, but with 20-30 mph winds, it was really cold down on the field. I was able to get down on the field for the last five minutes of regulation and all of overtime. Most of the action during this time period was right in front me. I could not have picked a better spot to stand! Overall, I could not have asked for a much better bowl game experience ( an exception being better press box Wi-Fi, get on that Legion Field). I want to thank Media Relations for the Birmingham Bowl Ted Feely and Heather Jeffcoat for the outstanding job they did in putting this all together.

See you all next month in Mobile for the Reese’s Senior Bowl!

The 2016 Birmingham Bowl was contested yesterday between South Florida and South Carolina at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The Bulls survived the Gamecocks second half rally to win 46-39 in overtime. This was the first overtime game in the history of the Birmingham Bowl.

A few weeks ago, on a whim, I decided to apply for a media credential to the game. I applied for the same game last year between Memphis and Auburn and was denied, so I figured the same fate would befall me again. I was pleasantly surprised when the acceptance email came. This was the first football game where I was credentialed for my own website. While there weren’t many draft prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft playing in this game, it was a good chance to see many players that will undoubtedly be prospects in the 2018-2020 drafts up close.

I came into the game focusing on a handful of players from each team.

USF:

 5 – Marlon Mack (JR RB)

87 – Rodney Adams (SR WR)

11 – Marquez Valdez-Scantling (JR WR)

57 – Nigel Harris (SR OLB)

SOUTH CAROLINA:

8 – Marquavius Lewis (SR DE)

5 – Darius English (SR OLB)

28 – Jonathan Walton (SR ILB)

For USF, Marlon Mack has an incredible initial burst through the line. He gets to top speed quickly. He is a solid receiver. I don’t think he is going to get you the grind it out yards. If he declares he is likely a mid-round pick. Rodney Adams made some tough catches over the middle in this game. He plays above his listed size (6’1” 190). He has track speed. His routes are not polished. Marquez Valdez-Scantling is an NC State transfer. He has tremendous size (6’5” 207). He only caught one pass in this game for 14 yards. I highly doubt he declares for the draft. Nigel Harris is an undersized linebacker prospect. He has some chase and cover skills but isn’t likely more than a free agent type. If he makes an NFL team, it will be a core special teams player.

For USC, Marquavius Lewis has decent size (6’3” 264). He came in as a JUCO pass rusher, but never developed into the dominant edge rusher that was expected. He is more than capable in the run game, but not much else. It took into his senior season, but Darius English finally became the pass rusher that Gamecock coaches thought he could become. He finished the season with 9 sacks. He will in all likelihood be a 34 outside linebacker in the NFL. I would peg his draft range in the 6th-7th round area. Jonathan Walton is an athletic, rangy linebacker prospect. He is the perfect UDFA special teams dynamo to help an NFL club next year.

For future drafts, the South Carolina offense should produce many NFL prospects. QB Jake Bentley (FR), RB Rico Dowdle (FR), WR’s Deebo Samuel (SO) and Bryan Edwards (FR), TE Hayden Hurst (SO), and OL Zack Bailey (SO) and Malik Young (SO), all have NFL futures in my opinion. I asked Gamecock Head Coach Will Muschamp, if LB/DS prospect Skai Moore, who has missed all season with an injury, would return next season. He said that he expected him to be in for January workouts and August practice (See this at the 3:53 mark of the YouTube video below).

South Florida JR QB Quentin Flowers is a dynamo with the ball in his hands. He has some passing ability, but I don’t think it translates (right now) to the NFL. He has improved in that category leaps and bounds from his sophomore season. If he continues to improve, he may get a shot to play QB. If not he can be a nice WR prospect for the NFL. The three CFL scouts in attendance yesterday were no doubt enamored with Flowers as well.


 2016 BIRMINGHAM BOWL COVERAGE