Friday Bowls: Who to Watch

December 28th, 2012

Will Corey Fuller and Marcus Davis share a moment in the Russell Athletic Bowl?

Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor

There are three games on December 28th. My attention will be squarely in Shreveport for my alma mater, Ohio University taking on LA Monroe in the Independence Bowl. At Reliant Stadium in Houston, the Meineke Car Care Bowl pits Minnesota against Texas Tech, and the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando pits Rutgers and Virginia Tech in the marquee game of the day.

There are limited 2013 NFL Draft prospects in both the Independence and Meineke Bowls, so the primary focus here will be on Rutgers and Virginia Tech, with some players to keep an eye on in the other games.

 

Ohio C Skyler Allen (#65) is the only Bobcat with any real legit hope of being even a priority free agent. Allen is an undersized pivot with good tenacity and the ability to get out in space and engage. He’s listed at 286 pounds, and if Allen can’t weigh in above 295 he won’t be any more than brief camp fodder.

Bobcats K Matt Weller (#49) struggled at times in 2012 but has a good enough leg to get invited to a camp. NT Neal Huynh (#93) has the size NFL teams want at 6’3” and 315 pounds, but he doesn’t do a lot more than tying up blockers. He is coachable and plays hard, which could get him a longer look than expected. Rod Marinelli will like him. Looking ahead, RB Beau Blankenship (#22) has been very productive all year and runs with enough speed and vision that the junior will make many preseason watch lists in 2013.

Minnesota features the exciting MarQueis Gray (#5), who has converted from starting quarterback to wide receiver after a midseason injury. He is an excellent athlete with great size at 6’4” and 250 or so pounds, and he flashed decent hands when he played receiver as a sophomore. Gray is eminently respected by his teammates and opponents, and coaches lauded his work ethic in trying to make himself into a great quarterback. His NFL future is at wide receiver, and at his size and with his straight-line speed, he is a lot more apt to make the switch than recent duds Armanti Edwards or Isaiah Stanback. Expect someone to take a flier on Gray in the 5th or 6th round and don’t be shocked if he turns into a pleasant surprise. Personally I hope the Lions see what I see, a potential game-breaker with intriguing versatility.

Texas Tech has a couple of draft-worthy prospects. Safety Cody Davis (#16) brings excellent size (6’2”, 210) and exudes football IQ. On a defense where the front seven struggled, Davis proved very good at cleaning up tackles in the open field. While he’s not stiff in coverage, he lacks great speed and just doesn’t have the burst to be real effective other than in short-range zone. If you watch the game, he might remind you of current Lions reserve John Wendling, though Davis is a bigger hitter in the run game.

QB Seth Doege has overcome a lot of injuries early in his career (tore ACLs in both knees in consecutive years in HS) and shows tremendous accuracy on short and intermediate throws. He functions as more of a point guard than gunner in the Red Raiders offense, getting the ball out quickly and precisely to a barrage of receivers. His arm strength is better than TTU predecessor Taylor Potts but is not anything more than average, and his deeper throws often flutter a little. I like him more than I liked Kellen Moore, and wouldn’t mind if the Lions scoop him up as a priority free agent. Massive tackle LaAdrian Waddle will pique interest based on sheer size, but Lions fans with good memories will recall Manny Ramirez, another TTU lineman built like a refrigerator with about as much mobility as one too.

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