The first week of bowl season gives one potential early-first round pick a chance to show why the scouting community has fallen in love with the quarterback from BYU, Zach Wilson. The true junior has become a favorite of draft analysts because of his arm talent and knack to turn nothing into something with his legs and throw-on-the-run prowess.
You can find the full bowl schedule with results as they happen here. Below, we’ll be tracking the draft-relevant prospects you need to know heading into upcoming bowl games, plus the notable performances from some of the top players in the country after they happen with analysis about what it means for each heading into draft season.
Upcoming bowl schedule
Myrtle Beach Bowl: North Texas vs. Appalachian State
Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- Appalachian State CB Shemar Jean-Charles has 16 pass breakups on the season after registering nine a season ago and three in his sophomore season of 2018. He has requisite size to match up with quick, separation-based receivers in the NFL at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. Jean-Charles wins on a consistent basis thanks to oily hips that allow him to change directions fluidly along with quality speed to the football.
Idaho Potato Bowl: Tulane vs. Nevada
Dec. 22 at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- Nevada QB Carson Strong is a sleeper prospect at the most vital position on the field. While only a redshirt sophomore, he is draft eligible and looks the part of a strong-armed pocket passer. He’s completed 69.4% of his passes at 7.9 yards per attempt with 22 touchdowns to just four picks on the season in Nevada’s decently traditional offense.
- Tulane EDGE Patrick Johnson has been on the draft radar for a while because of his production. He had 10 sacks and 14 tackles for loss as a sophomore in 2018 and after a down year in 2019, Johnson has amassed seven sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss this season.
- Tulane DL Cameron Sample has long been a reliable, every-down player at Tulane, and at 6-3 and 280 pounds of chiseled muscle, he has a unique frame that’s of NFL-caliber. He’s set a career high with five sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in 2020 and enters this bowl game tied for fourth in the country with 48 quarterback pressures.
RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl: UCF vs. BYU
Dec. 22 at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- BYU QB quarterback Zach Wilson will have some teams who view him as the second-best quarterback prospect in this class. A strong showing against UCF would make more believers. He’s completed over 70% of his passes at 10.9 yards per attempt with 30 touchdowns, three picks, and eight scores on the ground. He has a lightning-quick release, a strong arm, and impeccable improvisational skills when things break down inside the pocket or he can’t find anyone on his first few reads.
- BYU OT Brady Christensen is a 6-7, 300-pound left tackle who’s made blocking his opponents look far too easy this season. He fires out of his stance in pass protection and when barreling forward for the run game but is under control and very well-balanced. There’s plenty of pop in his hands, and the towering offensive tackle looks like a great athlete for the position.
- UCF S Richie Grant has been a big-play creator on the Golden Knights defense since 2018 when he picked off six passes and had over 100 tackles. After eight pass breakups and an interception a season ago, Grant has five pass breakups, three interceptions, and a pair of forced fumbles as a redshirt senior. He’s a long, angular safety with good range and an authoritative nature when flying downhill to stop the run.
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Georgia Southern
Dec. 23 at 3 p.m. on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- Georgia Southern EDGE Raymond Johnson III leads the team with five sacks and has 13.5 tackles for loss on the season. At 6-3 and 270 pounds, he has NFL defensive end size and has steadily improved his elementary statistics every year in college. Johnson is 11th in the country with 43 pressures.
Montgomery Bowl: Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic
Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- Memphis CB T.J. Carter has the athletic gifts to play in the NFL. He was injured earlier in the season and returned in late November, so his statistics don’t jump off the page. He had two picks and 12 pass breakups as a freshman in 2018 and has remained explosive out of his breaks.
- Florida Atlantic EDGE Leighton McCarthy is a small edge rusher, not even listed at 230 pounds, so he’s probably an off-ball linebacker at the next level. But he plays with impressive twitch and sustained speed to the quarterback and knows how to defeat blocks at the point of attack with quick — not necessarily powerful — hands. He has nine sacks on the season.
New Mexico Bowl: Hawaii vs. Houston
Dec. 24 at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- Hawaii WR Rico Bussey Jr. does have a knee injury, so we aren’t sure if he’ll play in this bowl game, but he’s on the fringe of the draft radar despite minimal statistical output this season in an offense that really liked to spread around the football. A transfer from North Texas, Bussey went over 1,000 yards with 12 scores in 2018. At 6-2 and 190 pounds he’s a smooth route runner and can be impactful after the catch.
- Houston WR Marquez Stevenson missed plenty of time this season with an injury, but returned for the Cougars December 12 game against Memphis. The 6-0, 190-pound Louisiana native absolutely flies down the field — and on kick returns — had logged a pair of 100-plus yard receiving games in October.
Camellia Bowl: Buffalo vs. Marshall
Dec. 25 at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson was shut down by a Ball State defense that repeatedly loaded the box in the MAC title game, but the fire hydrant of a back was magnificently productive this season, rushing for over 1,000 yards on just 141 carries (7.6 yards per). His low center of gravity boosts his contact balance, and he has prolific vision and lateral quickness.
- Buffalo OT Kayode Awosika has been a force on the Bulls powerful offensive line for years, and he has the long, chiseled, and athletic body type NFL scouts want in a developmental tackle.
Union Home Gasparilla Bowl: South Carolina vs. UAB
Dec. 26 at 12 p.m. on ABC (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- UAB EDGE Jordan Smith is one of the most disruptive outside rushers in the country. The Florida transfer is a menacing presence on the edge at 6-7 and 255 pounds with a pterodactyl wingspan, and he has a nasty array of pass-rushing moves and quality bend for such a tall edge rusher. He enters this bowl third in the country in pressures (50).
Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina
Dec. 26 at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- Liberty QB Malik Willis transferred from Auburn and has been a multi-dimensional weapon for the Flames this season. He’s completed 64% of his passes at 8.6 yards per attempt with 20 passing touchdowns and four picks. As a runner, he’s been electric with 10 rushing scores and a hefty 6.7 yards per rush carry on 120 attempts.
- Coastal Carolina EDGE Tarron Jackson is the current FBS leader in quarterback pressures with 52. A high-motor, speed-to-power rusher, Jackson wins with good hand work and a quick first step around the corner at 6-2 and 260 pounds. He has 18 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in his last two seasons.
LendingTree Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State
Dec. 26 at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- Western Kentucky EDGE DeAngelo Malone has produced in each of the past three seasons as a member of the Hilltoppers. While not quite as a dynamic as 2019 when he tallied 20.5 tackles for loss, Malone has 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks this season to go along with 33 pressures of the quarterback.
- Georgia State OG Shamarious Gilmore is a brick in pass protection thanks to immense point-of-attack power in his upper half and sturdy anchor. That’s especially impressive because he’s only listed at 6-3 and 295 pounds. With more weight on his frame in the NFL, he can be a reliable contributor.
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: Louisiana vs. UTSA
Dec. 26 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
- Louisiana RB Elijah Mitchell carries a rather large 6.2 career yards-per-rush average into this bowl game. He is a burst-based back who can hit the home run on any given play.
Key performances from completed bowls
Check back in this section throughout bowl season for our analysis of who shined and who came up short on the college football season’s final stage.
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