Happy bowl season! And happy draft scouting, too.
With this slate of college games over the next three weeks comes a true turning point in NFL draft fans’ calendars as we start full steam ahead on 2020.
As you watch the bowl games and playoff games, keep this list of NFL prospects to watch in each of them handy.
We’ll be adding to the list — starting with the earliest games first — as we go. Some prospects are opting not to play in games, so we’re tracking those announcements as they roll in.
Friday, Dec. 20
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl: Charlotte (7-5) vs. Buffalo (7-5) — 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Charlotte EDGE Alex Highsmith — It might be easy to suggest that Highsmith racked up his 14 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss against the likes of Gardner-Webb and Massachusetts. But one of the 6-4, 242-pound rusher’s most impressive games this season came against Clemson when he beat left tackle Jackson Carman for a sack and played well throughout. Highsmith is a self-made prospect who is smart, athletic and tough. Don’t be shocked if he ends up a top-75 selection.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl: Kent State (6-6) vs. Utah State (7-5) — 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Utah State QB Jordan Love — Ever since his three-INT game against Wake Forest in the opener, it has been a trying season for Love. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns and 16 INTs (after a 32-6 ratio a year ago) and has hovered around the 60-percent completion mark. But his good athletic traits and terrific arm talent have tantalized NFL scouts to the point where he still could be a first-rounder this year. Love declared for the 2020 NFL draft and has a Mahomes-ian profile as a prospect but carries a lot more risk. He plans to play in this game before starting his bowl prep.
Saturday, Dec. 21
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl: North Carolina A&T (8-3) vs. Alcorn State (9-3) — Noon (ABC)
North Carolina A&T WR Elijah Bell — If there’s a player who has a fair shot of being drafted in this game, it is the 6-1, 222-pound Bell. The Aggies don’t throw the ball a ton, which makes Bell’s 53 catches for 782 yards (14.8-yard average) and six TD receptions all the more impressive. The West Virginia native slipped through the cracks in recruiting but is one of the school’s best receivers ever, establishing himself as a jump-ball specialist. If Bell can run in the low-4.5 second range in the 40-yard dash it could land him in the Day 3 range. NC A&T has a three-year streak with at least one draft pick (2017 Chicago Bears fourth-rounder Tarik Cohen, 2018 Oakland Raiders fifth-rounder Brandon Parker and 2019 Buffalo Bills seventh-rounder Darryl Johnson).
New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan (8-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3) — 2 p.m. (ESPN)
San Diego State OG Daishawn Dixon — The three-year starter at left guard is one of the few draftable possibilities in this game. He’s a 6-5, 320-pound mauler in the ground game, but his pass protection could use work. Dixon will play in the East-West Shrine Game and is a candidate to be drafted later in the Day 3 range, depending on his testing, but he could fall to the priority free-agent ranks.
Cure Bowl: Georgia Southern (7-5) vs. Liberty (7-5) — 2:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Liberty WR Antonio Gandy-Golden — The 6-4, 220-pound receiver has put up monster numbers the past two seasons, catching a combined 145 passes for 2,370 yards (a 16.3-yard average) with 19 TDs over 23 combined games. After a slew of drops in 2018, Gandy-Golden cured that with only two on 129 targets this season, according to Pro Football Focus. He possesses some interesting physical traits, can go up and get the ball and is relatively dependable, but Gandy-Golden isn’t a special athlete by NFL standards. He could end up the highest drafted Liberty player in decades. The last time the school produced a pick higher than No. 125 was Kelvin Edwards (88th pick by the New Orleans Saints in 1986).
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl: SMU (10-2) vs. Florida Atlantic (10-3) — 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Florida Atlantic TE Harrison Bryant — Tough call here, as there are several intriguing mid-round prospects playing in this game, including SMU WR James Proche. But we’ll go with one of our favorite studies during our 2020 draft prep to this point in Bryant, the Mackey Award winner who has the ability to make catches down the seam. He also has improved his blocking and has a shot to be drafted somewhere in the third or fourth round, we believe.
Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State (7-5) vs. Florida International (6-6) — 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
FIU QB James Morgan — The Bowling Green transfer has been on scouts’ radar for more than a year now, even though he suffered an ankle injury early this season and never really got healthy or played to his potential. But Morgan has decent size (6-4, 213 pounds) and respectable arm talent and is a candidate to be a Day 3 pick as a developmental prospect. His 2018 tape is better than his 2019 tape, so scouts must figure out if he’s regressed or whether the injury and his surrounding cast are to blame.
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl: No. 19 Boise State (12-1) vs. Washington (7-5) — 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Boise State WR John Hightower — Last season, Hightower was a sparsely used but highly effective big-play machine. This season, the 6-2, 185-pound playmaker developed as a full-time receiver and fascinating prospect. Although he’s still raw as a former junior-college track star (400-meter hurdles), his upside really is interesting. Hightower can blow by people, but this might be the best secondary he’s faced. Then again, he might be the fastest receiver the Huskies have seen this season.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: No. 20 Appalachian State (12-1) vs. UAB (9-4) — 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Appalachian State LB Akeem Davis-Gaither — The Senior Bowl invitee has really improved over the past few seasons and has enough playmaking ability to thrive as a three-down backer at the next level, as well as a core special teamer. He’s undersized and looks like a safety, so adding bulk is going to be needed at some point. But flip on the North Carolina game to see Davis-Gaither’s diving interception and you’ll quickly realize that he has NFL instincts and athleticism.
Monday, Dec. 23
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: UCF (9-3) vs. Marshall (8-4) — 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
UCF S Richie Grant — This game has been stripped of some of its NFL draft heft, as UCF WR Gabriel Davis and RB Adrian Killins Jr. have both declared and opted out of playing. Grant is a redshirt junior and has yet to make a call on whether or not to declare. He also hasn’t been as productive this season, failing to intercept a single pass one year after picking off six. Scouts are mixed on him, but he has tightened up his tackling and coverage in the second half of the season.
Tuesday, Dec. 24
SoFi Hawaii Bowl: BYU (7-5) vs. Hawaii (9-5) — 8 p.m. (ESPN)
BYU TE Matt Bushman — Although Bushman has yet to declare for the draft, he says he’ll wait until after this game to make a final decision — and at age 24, he’s on the older side for an NFL prospect, so we suspect he might lean toward entering. Bushman led the Cougars in receiving yards (597), has reliable hands and can threaten the seam. He’s a straight-line receiver, lacks wiggle and never will be a plus blocker. Bushman — whose father-in-law is former Eagles TE Chad Lewis — reminds us a big of a longer-framed Jacob Hollister and could be a top-125 pick if he comes out.
Thursday, Dec. 26
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl: Miami (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (9-3) — 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Miami LB Shaquille Quarterman — If you’re getting a head start on the 2021 (or 2022) draft, check out Miami EDGE Gregory Rousseau, who could be truly special. But if you’re dialed in on 2020 like we are, look right behind him and focus on Quarterman, who has been the heart and soul of the Hurricanes the past four years and will be finishing his career with his 52nd game for Miami. He was the first freshman middle linebacker to start for the Canes since Dan Morgan in 1998 and even showed his school pride — back in high school — when Quarterman wore a Miami t-shirt to Florida’s “Friday Night Lights” recruiting event. He’s an active, instinctive, run-stopping force who projects to about a fourth-round pick but could start for some NFL teams in base defenses.
Quick Lane Bowl: Pittsburgh (7-5) vs. Eastern Michigan (6-6) — 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Pitt CB Dane Jackson — There are some athletic concerns about Jackson, who has been beat deep steadily throughout the redshirt senior’s career. But the 6-foot, 190-pound cover man is an excellent tackler, consistently gets his hands on passes and does a good job rerouting receivers. Jackson will have an excellent chance to show his chops in this game against the Eagles’ nice quartet of receivers (Arthur Jackson, Dylan Drummond, Quian Williams and Line Latu), any of whom can be the go-to target in a given game. Jackson, who will play in the Senior Bowl, would fit in with an NFL team that runs a lot of zone, such as the Colts, Chargers or Steelers.
Friday, Dec. 27
Military Bowl: Temple (8-4) vs. North Carolina (6-6) — Noon (ESPN)
Temple C Matt Hennessy — He’s a rising name in draft circles and could end up being one of the top-five interior OL prospects in 2020 if the redshirt junior opts to declare this season. Hennessy has been a fixture at the pivot the past three seasons and has graded out by Pro Football Focus as one of the best pass-blocking centers in college football the past two seasons. Hennessy lacks elite anchor strength, can be too penalty-prone (holds and false starts) and dealt with a knee injury. However, he’s smart, tough and effective, and Hennessy’s battle against underrated NT Aaron Crawford should be a good test.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Wake Forest (8-4) vs. Michigan State (6-6) — 3:20 p.m. (ESPN)
Michigan State EDGE Kenny Willekes — Very little has come easily for Willekes, the recipient of the Burlsworth Trophy as the best former walk-on in college football. But the high-energy rusher always seems to make his presence felt, despite lacking ideal athleticism or length. He has nine sacks this season, coming back from a broken tibia suffered one year ago, and has 24.5 over the past three seasons. Willekes might not test great, but he should be part of a rotation and bring energy and effort to an NFL defense. He could be a third- or fourth-round pick, we believe.
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl: No. 25 Oklahoma State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-5) — 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Oklahoma State CB A.J. Green — We don’t yet know if Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard will declare early, and A&M DT Justin Madubuike will not play in this one as he starts prepping for the draft. Those are our two highest-rated 2020 prospects on the respective rosters. But Green is an interesting player who has gone under the radar despite sharing a name with the Cincinnati Bengals star receiver. The 6-1, 190-pound Green is a really good tackler and has improved his man coverage immensely over the past year-plus. He looks like a really nice Day 3 sleeper. Fun fact: Green has good athletic genes, with one cousin playing in the WNBA, two more cousins playing college football and a fourth cousin who played college volleyball.
SDCCU Holiday Bowl: No. 16 Iowa (9-3) vs. No. 22 USC (8-4) — 8 p.m. (FS1)
USC OT Austin Jackson — There might only be a handful of better “get your popcorn” matchups in this year’s bowl slate than the ascending Jackson facing off against Iowa EDGE A.J. Epenesa. Both players have brought out their best down the stretch, and Jackson might be the most talented blocker Epenesa has gone against this season. Although the 6-6, 310-pound Jackson remains a raw specimen and needs to refine both his technique and mature into his impressive frame, he’s a player we could see landing in Round 1 to the right team. This is going to be a great test for both, but Jackson has been a mixed bag against some of the better pass rushers he’s faced this season.
Cheez-It Bowl: Washington State (6-6) vs. Air Force (10-2) — 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Washington State QB Anthony Gordon — The out-of-nowhere NFL prospect is 606 passing yards away from breaking the NCAA record for most passing yards in a season, held by former Texas Tech QB BJ Symons, another Mike Leach protege. Lest you think that total is unreachable, Gordon actually threw for 606 vs. Oklahoma State this season — despite coming into the year with a mere five college pass attempts — and averages nearly 436 passing yards a game. He’s an easy thrower with a rubber arm and will get to showcase his talents at the Senior Bowl, but this game is a sneaky-good test against an Air Force defense that only allows 208.1 pass yards per game.
Saturday, Dec. 28
Camping World Bowl: No. 15 Notre Dame (10-2) vs. Iowa State (7-5) — Noon (ABC)
Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet — We’re taking a risk here, as Kmet has said that his plan is to return to school in 2020. But plans change, and it wouldn’t be stunning to see him renege on that plan (which apparently would include pitching for the Irish baseball team again). If Kmet does declare, there’s a great chance he could be TE1 in this year’s class. The 6-6, 258-pounder still needs some refinement in his game and doesn’t have a ton of experience. But he has the chance to be a dominant receiver at the position and develop into a serviceable blocker. Kmet’s physical traits are excellent, and a patient team will be rewarded in time. He has star potential.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl: No. 10 Penn State (10-2) vs. No. 17 Memphis (12-1) — Noon (ESPN)
Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos — The 6-5, 259-pound edge rusher is entering his final game with the Nittany Lions, and his length and pass-rush juice absolutely have the attention of NFL teams. But one club we spoke with recently raised a very real concern with Gross-Matos’ edge-setting ability against the run. It’s probably his biggest question as a prospect, and it’s likely one that will be tested in this game. Memphis operates a run-heavy spread attack that mixes in old-school power plays. They use multiple backs and tight ends and can gash teams that are not disciplined against the run. NFL teams will want to watch Gross-Matos show some awareness and restraint against this type of team before stamping a first-round grade on him.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (CFP semifinal): No. 1 LSU (13-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1) — 4 p.m. (ESPN)
LSU S Grant Delpit — This game is absolutely loaded with NFL talent, and you know plenty about Joe Burrow to this point. So we’ll go with Delpit, the Thorpe Award winner who frankly might not have deserved that honor. He’s a fantastic prospect, but Delpit didn’t have a terrific season, at least compared to how he played in 2018. Poor tackling and a lack of playmaking were concerns, although some of that can be attributed to an ankle injury suffered against Auburn (and one he has tweaked a few times since). The Tigers will want to make some game-changing plays on defense, and Delpit can help that effort with his range and instincts. This could be his final college game if LSU loses, although Delpit has yet to make a final call on declaring for the 2020 draft. He can answer some questions about his game and firm up a first-round landing spot with a good performance in Atlanta.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (CFP semifinal): No. 2 Ohio State (13-0) vs. No. 3 Clemson (13-0) — 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Clemson RB Travis Etienne — This game features two backs, Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins and Etienne, who could be vying for draft supremacy in 2020. Right now, Dobbins feels like the more important player to his respective team in this game, but Etienne has a chance to steal the spotlight if Ohio State sells out to try to slow down the Tigers’ brilliant passing game. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound back hits the hold extremely hard and fast as a runner and can slice up a defense — even one as good as OSU’s — with one sharp cut. The questions on Etienne as a prospect come with his value in the passing game, so it will be interesting to see how he holds up in that area, especially in pass protecting against Chase Young and the Buckeyes’ great pass rushers.
Monday, Dec. 30
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: Western Kentucky (8-4) vs. Western Michigan (7-5) — 12:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Western Michigan RB LeVante Bellamy — The redshirt senior back has been one of the best statistical performers in the entire 2019 college football season with 23 rushing touchdowns and 1,412 rush yards. Since the loss to Michigan State, the 5-9, 190-pound Bellamy has averaged 131.5 yards and 2.2 touchdowns per game, plus 6.1 yards per carry. The former wide receiver hasn’t been a big part of the passing game, however, so we wouldn’t mind seeing this facet of his game against a tough WKU pass defense that allows only 200.5 yards per game through the air. Bellamy projects to be an early Day 3 pick, but he is expected to test through the roof at the NFL scouting combine.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Louisville (7-5) — 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill — With Bulldogs CB Cam Dantzler and Cardinals OT Mekhi Becton sitting out this game to prep for the NFL draft, the pro-caliber talent has been thinned out noticeably. But Hill has said he’s in for this game, and it’s one more chance for him to display his exceptional contact balance and angry running style. The SEC’s leading rusher this season also is a threat on screen passes and can be a tough player to bring down at a rocked-up 5-11 and 215 pounds. He could get pushed down int the draft in a well-stocked RB class, but Hill might end up an exceptional steal either late on Day 2 or early in Day 3 next spring. He’s one of our favorite players to watch.
Redbox Bowl: California (7-5) vs. Illinois (6-6) — 4 p.m. (FOX)
Cal LB Evan Weaver — Cal’s best 2020 prospect, redshirt senior S Ashtyn Davis, will not play in the game after undergoing a minor surgical procedure. So we’ll go with a more tricky study in Weaver, who has gained national notoriety for his brash style and high tackle totals. NFL scouts are not enamored with his pro fit, as he can struggle in space and might not be a top-shelf blitzer (despite transitioning from defensive end). But against a run-heavy team such as the Illini, Weaver could put some more positive tape into scouts’ hands.
Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 9 Florida (10-2) vs. No. 24 Virginia (9-4) — 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Florida EDGE Jonathan Greenard — CB CJ Henderson is skipping this game, but Pro Football Focus’ top-rated Gators defender is not. Greenard transferred in from Louisville for his final college season and elevated his play and draft stock with 52 tackles (second on the team), 15 tackles for loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and a fumble recovery he ran back for a TD — all despite an ankle injury against LSU that cost him parts of two games. He’s been scorching hot down the stretch and could be a handful for Virginia OTs Bobby Haskins and Dillon Reinkensmeyer. Greenard can rush, drop, set the edge and impact games in a number of ways. We think the top-60 prospect could put up a massive performance here before playing in the Senior Bowl next month. (ECE)
Tuesday, Dec. 31
Belk Bowl: Kentucky (7-5) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4) — Noon (ESPN)
Kentucky OG Logan Stenberg — An absolute mauler in the run game at left guard, Stenberg could be the highest-drafted 2020 prospect on the field here. He struggles to play with proper leverage at times, standing too upright in his stance, and is good but not great as a puller. Stenberg also has been flagged for a whopping 12 penalties, one of the highest totals for any interior blocker in the country. But Stenberg could still be a force in this game, against Tech’s solid run defense. Stenberg reminds us a bit of 2014 Jacksonville Jaguars third-rounder Brandon Linder — but with even more mass.
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Florida State (6-6) vs. Arizona State (7-5) — 2 p.m. (CBS)
Arizona State C Cohl Cabral — The best 2020 prospects from the two schools are sitting this one out, either to prep for the draft (Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk, ASU RB Eno Benjamin, Florida State RB Cam Akers and FSU CB Stanford Samuels III) or because of injury (FSU DT Marvin Wilson). The latter being out should make it an easier assignment for Cabral, even though FSU’s 346-pound nose tackle, Robert Cooper, is tough to move. Cabral isn’t an elite athlete, but he’s been valuable for the Sun Devils at left tackle for the first two games and at center ever since. We project him as a later Day 3 pick.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: No. 23 Navy (9-2) vs. Kansas State (8-4) — 3:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Navy QB Malcolm Perry — He’s not likely to play much quarterback at all in the NFL, as we wrote a few weeks ago, but this fascinating prospect could be a specialist in the league — as a slot receiver, punt returner, runner or trick-play artist. The 5-9, 185-pound Perry will be capping his brilliant career with the Midshipmen by trying to find running room against a Wildcats defense allowing 4.91 yards per carry this season and 18 TDs on the ground. But NFL scouts watching this game will be continuing to measure Perry’s nearly elite-level athleticism and trying to figure out ways how that can be unleashed in the NFL. We think he’s got a shot to be drafted late.
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Georgia State (7-5) vs. Wyoming (7-5) — 4:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Wyoming LB Logan Wilson — The 6-2, 250-pound linebacker is a three-time captain and the best player on the Cowboys’ defense. Yes, he’s a tackle machine, having racked up 414 (34 for loss) over his four seasons. But Wilson is more than that, displaying the kind of soft hands in coverage — 10 career INTs, four this season — that you’d expect from a converted high-school wide receiver. He’s smart, instinctive and assignment-sound and could land in the fourth or fifth round if he plays well here and at the Senior Bowl.
Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 11 Utah (11-2) vs. Texas (7-5) — 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Utah RB Zack Moss — We’re big fans of Moss, who capped off his third 1,000-yard rushing season for the Utes, despite having suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2018. Separating himself in a loaded RB class is going to be a chore. But Moss — the cousin of former NFL receivers Santana and Sinorice Moss — has excellent burst, terrific vision and a vicious jump cut to get to where he needs to go. Despite Moss’ injury history, he’s playing in this game. We think he ultimately lands in the second or third round.
Wednesday, Jan. 1
Vrbo Citrus Bowl: No. 13 Alabama (10-2) vs. No. 14 Michigan (9-3) — 1 p.m. (ABC)
Alabama OT Jedrick Wills Jr. — Wills has taken a big step forward this season and could vie for OT1 supremacy with another big game here. Already considered a great run blocker coming into the season, Wills really impressed as a pass blocker as well, which has led to his ascent. He’ll have a nice test against Michigan EDGEs Aiden Hutchinson, Josh Uche, Kwity Paye and Mike Danna. The Wolverines will rotate their ends readily, and yet Wills should have the physical edge against all of them. He’s likely going to end up a high first-round pick.
Outback Bowl: No. 12 Auburn (9-3) vs. No. 18 Minnesota (10-2) — 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Auburn DT Derrick Brown — A possible top-five overall pick in 2020, Brown surprised many when he opted to play in this game? Brown cited his being named a team captain as the reason, not wanting to let his teammates down. Don’t think NFL scouts haven’t noticed that. But they’ll also notice his monstrous power and exceptional effort. The Gophers have a young, big offensive line that will come in with a month-long plan on how to block Brown, but it might not matter. He’s a top-10 prospect for a reason. Brown is just a rare breed.
Rose Bowl Game: No. 6 Oregon (11-2) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3) — 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Wisconsin LB Zack Baun — The Badgers have three players who could fall in the second-round range: RB Jonathan Taylor, C Tyler Biadasz and Baun. Although Baun might be the third to be drafted in this group, he has a matchup in this one that could crank up the boilers on his simmering draft stock. Baun has been a revelation as a fifth-year senior is a converted high-school QB who has shown some good all-around feel as a pass rusher and run stopper, as well as in coverage. Facing Oregon LT Penei Sewell, a possible top-five pick in 2021 and maybe the best tackle in college football, will be an exceptional test.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Georgia (11-2) vs. No. 7 Baylor (11-2) — 8:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Baylor DE James Lynch — We’re big fans of the lumberjack-built Lynch, who could opt to declare and might even push for first-round status. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year made several game-changing plays, including two forced fumbles at or near the goal line. Lynch is squarely built at 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds but is a better athlete than he’s sometimes said to be. He could be a 10-year starter as a 5- or 6-technique defensive end, or even kick down inside as a defensive tackle in an even front. With Lynch’s power and quickness, we think he could pose problems for an offensive line as talented as Georgia’s is.
Thursday, Jan. 2
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl: Boston College (6-6) vs. No. 21 Cincinnati (10-3) — 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Cincinnati TE Josiah Deguara — We don’t know if RB Michael Warren will declare for the draft, and the opponent’s back (A.J. Dillion) is skipping this game. So let’s shine a light on Deguara, who first caught our back in the opener against UCLA when he chased down a Bruins defender off a turnover and made a TD-saving tackle 60 yards downfield. Since then, the hybrid fullback-tight end (he’ll play both positions at the Senior Bowl) led the Bearcats in receptions and caught seven of the team’s 18 TD passes this season. He’s not massive at 6-3 and 242 pounds, but Deguara looks like the kind of high-effort player no coach wants to get rid of on cutdown day. Put him in the slot, inline, offset, in motion — whatever — and use him on special teams. Useful player and a late-round sleeper.
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: Tennessee (7-5) vs. Indiana (8-4) — 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Tennessee WR Jauan Jennings — We’ve been fascinated with Jennings’ long and winding road to this point where he’s turned himself into an intriguing NFL prospect. It hasn’t always been easy, as Jennings was dismissed, readmitted, dealt with wrist and knee injuries and, yes, was suspended for the first half of this game for stepping on the face of Vanderbilt punt returner Justice Shelton-Mosley during a sideline incident in the last game. So that means we don’t get Jennings until the second half of this game, where he’s try to unleash his rare toughness and big frame (6-3, 208 pounds) against a very young but fairly talented Hoosier secondary.
Friday, Jan. 3
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada (7-5) vs. Ohio (6-6) — 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Ohio QB Nathan Rourke — If there’s one bowl to skip from an NFL draft perspective, it’s probably this one — at least for the 2020 draft. The WolfPack have a few young defenders worth keeping an eye on for future years, and their task will be to slow down the Bobcats’ dual-threat QB. Rourke has a funky throwing delivery, but it’s oddly effective at times, and he’s an even better runner, able to shimmy defenders and break tackles. Some NFL scouts will eye his workouts and consider Rourke for a position switch possibly. He wants to give quarterback a go, however, and could receive an NFL camp invite, but the Ontario-born Rourke is very high on CFL scouts’ lists, too.
Saturday, Jan. 4
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Tulane (6-6) vs. Southern Miss (7-5) — 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Tulane CB Thakarius Keyes — Keyes will be tested in this game by Southern Miss WRs Tim Jones and Quez Watkins, the latter a late-round prospect for 2020. After two seasons of riding the pine for the Green Wave, Keyes has become one of their better defenders. The East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl invitee is better known for his coverage, using his 6-foot-1 frame and long arms to shield defenders. But Keyes needs major work with his tackling (don’t watch the Navy game, yikes), which makes him a Day 3 prospect, we feel.
Monday, Jan. 6
LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana (10-3) vs. Miami, Ohio (8-5) — 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Louisiana RB Raymond Calais — With OT Robert Hunt battling an injury, the top senior prospect in this game would appear to be Calais, a small but explosive runner as one part of a very good three-RB attack. The 5-9, 180-pound Calais has averaged nearly eight yards a run this season, has plenty of tread left on his tires, is a threat as a kick returner and has only one fumble in his four seasons. Still, he’s not useful in the passing game (as a blocker or receiver) and will try to hit home runs on runs when he should be swinging for singles and doubles.
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