Bowl Watch: Tuesday, December 26

December 25, 2017

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL: Utah (6-6) vs West Virginia (7-5); 1:30PM ET; ESPN

Any pro scouts in Dallas to watch Utah and West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas may be there more for what will be on the board in 2019 than this year. That’s because the best prospects in this game – West Virginia QB Will Grier (#7, 6-2, 215), WR David Sills (#13, 6-3, 205) and LT Yodney Cajuste (#55, 55, 6-5, 310) – are all juniors who have already indicated that they will be returning to school for their senior seasons next fall. At the same time, though, the Mountaineers have several veteran players who could get some late-round consideration including LB Al Benton (#3, 6-0, 240), SS Kyzir White (#8, 6-2, 215), CB Elijah Battle (#19, 5-11, 190) and WR Ka’raun White (#2, 6-2, 215).

For its part, Utah has an interesting prospect in big-play WR Darren Carrington (#9, 6-2, 205), who is as explosive as they come, but also has a career littered with off-field issues. Meanwhile, OG Salesi Uhatafe (#74, 6-4, 315), a 4-year starter, and DT Lowell Lotulelei (#93, 6-2, 310), the younger brother of 2013 first rounder Star Lotulelei figure to get some mid-to-late round consideration.

QUICK LANE BOWL (Detroit): Duke (6-6) vs Northern Illinois (8-4); 5:15 PM ET; ESPN

This game could just as well be called the ‘Future’ bowl as the only real NFL prospects on either roster are sophomores. Indeed, NIU redshirt sophomore DE Sutton Smith (#15, 6-0, 225) was one of the most productive edge rushers in the country as he led all FBS sackers with 14 while chipping in another 14.5 tackles for loss to earn multiple All-America honors. Meanwhile Duke’s best players are redshirt soph MLB Joe Giles-Harris (#44, 6-2, 230), who also made some All-America teams after racking up 117 tackles this fall, and true sophomore CB Mark Gilbert (#28, 6-0, 175) who had 6 picks this fall.

CACTUS BOWL (Phoenix): UCLA (6-6) vs Kansas State (7-5); 9


The big question in Phoenix this week – and maybe in the entire NFL scouting community is whether UCLA junior QB Josh Rosen (#3, 6-4, 220) is activated. Rosen, who is thick into contention to be the first player selected  at the 2018 draft, is awaiting clearance from the team’s medical staff after he was sidelined with a concussion in the Bruins’ season finale late last month. Even if Rosen isn’t a go, the Bruins have several other interesting prospects including rangy junior LT Kolton Miller (#77, 6-7, 310), an emerging second-day candidate who could ultimately get some serious late first round consideration before all is said and done. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore TE Caleb Wilson (#81, 6-4, 235) is already one of the better pass-receivers at the position in the country. At the same time, MLB Kenny Young (#42, 6-0, 235), SS Jaleel Wadood (#4, 5-9, 185), WR Darren Andrews (#7, 5-9, 195), C Scott Quessenberry (#52, 6-2, 310), OG Najee Toran (#69, 6-2, 305) and DE Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (#91, 6-2, 285) are mid-late round possibilities.

While UCLA is fully expecting to have a player taken in the top 5 this year, Kansas State will likely have to be content just to have somebody selected anywhere. Indeed, its possible that the Wildcats best prospects are kickers Matt McCrane (#16, 5-10, 165), who hit 6 50-yard-plus FGs this year, and P Nick Walsh (#14, 5-11, 210) who averaged 43.7 yards per punt this season, although neither is much more than a fringe candidate. Same for veteran LBs Trent Tanking (#58, 6-2, 225) and Jayd Kirby (#46, 6-2, 225) and stumpy DT Will Geary (#60, 6-0, 305). However, K-State does have a number of juniors who could have a bigger impact on the 2019 draft including star CB/KR D.J. Reed, one of the most dangerous punt returners in the country who also chipped in 4 picks this fall, big-play WR Byron Pringle (#9, 6-2, 205), and OT Dalton Risner (#71, 6-5, 310)