The bowl games are over, which means it’s officially time to start looking forward to the NFL Draft.
Next up are the college all-star games that will showcase all the talent ready to flood the NFL, but before getting to those, we’ll take one last look back at the bowl games and the statements made by those players looking to make it to the next level.
In putting together our own CFWP All-Bowl team, we’ve selected only seniors and those underclassmen who have already declared for the NFL Draft, in other words, those who will be taking part in only the 2013 Draft.
Quarterback E.J. Manuel, Florida State––While Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel put on a show in the Cotton Bowl, it wasn’t a very good bowl season for Draft-entry quarterbacks. Manuel might have been the best in a performance that wasn’t flashy but one in which he displayed veteran leadership and a steady hand. In the Orange Bowl win over Northern Illinois, Manuel completed 26 of 38 passes for 291 with one touchdown and no interceptions while running for 26 yards and a score.
Running back Eddie Lacy, Alabama––Though he’s only a junior, Lacy has already declared for the NFL Draft, following in the footsteps of recent Alabama first-round running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Using a combination of both power and elusiveness, Lacy bulled way past the vaunted Notre Dame defense in the BCS Championship game on his way to 140 yards on 20 carries (7.0 avg.) and a touchdown while catching two passes and another score.
Running back Kerwynn Williams, Utah State––Because Williams ran for 235 yards and three touchdowns on only 18 carries, we’ll overlook his fumble in the Potato Bowl victory over Toledo. Williams had 198 yards in the fourth quarter alone as the Aggies pulled away.
Fullback Lonnie Pryor, Florida State––If you’re looking for a pure-blocking fullback, you might consider Arizona’s Taimi Tutogi who helped open up holes for 178 rushing yards by Ka’Deem Carey in the New Mexico Bowl, but Pryor was terrific with the ball in his hands in the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles fullback gained 134 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries, including a long of 60 yards, and added three receptions.
Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, Texas––Goodwin, an Olympic long jumper, put a stamp on his college career by scoring the fourth-quarter, game-winning touchdown to help Texas get by Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. He only had four catches for 68 yards (including the game-winner), but he also took his only carry of the game for 64 yards and a touchdown as well.
Wide receiver Tavarres King, Georgia––King capped off his college career by playing in his 56th career game at Georgia, a school record. He only caught three passes, but took them for 104 yards, including one for 75 yards and a touchdown as Georgia beat Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl*.
Tight end Travis Kelce, Cincinnati––The senior tight end grabbed five passes for 123 yards, but it was his 83-yard reception with less than a minute to go that iced the victory for Cincinnati in the Queen City Bowl* over Duke.
Left tackle Eric Fisher, Central Michigan––It’s too bad Western Kentucky defensive end Quanterus didn’t play in the Motor City Bowl* due to injury. As it was, Fisher looked like a man amongst boys as Central Michigan rolled up on the Hilltoppers.
Left guard Chance Warmack, Alabama––So much for the Notre Dame defense. Warmack pretty much cemented his reputation as the No. 1 guard in this year’s draft class as the Tide gained 529 yards. Warmack was one of the Alabama offensive lineman that made linebacker Manti Te’o look like a complete non-factor in the BCS Championship.
Center Ivory Wade, Baylor––Baylor has done a good job preparing centers for the NFL in recent years. First it was J.D. Walton then last year it was Phillip Blake. Even Danny Watkins has played some center. And it looks like Wade is going to be the next. He helped Baylor rack up 494 offensive yards in the Holiday Bowl win over UCLA.
Right guard Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech––Uzzi is going to have some work in front of him to transition from Georgia Tech’s option offense to the NFL, but the way he helped the Yellow Jackets rumble for 294 rushing yards on the USC defense in the Sun Bowl sure won’t hurt his cause.
Right tackle Terry McDaniel, Texas Tech––The elite tackles are on the left side of the offensive line, but McDaniel deserves credit for helping the Red Raiders gain 429 yards on the Minnesota defense in a victory in the Texas Bowl.
Defensive end Margus Hunt, SMU––I’ve attempted to put together a 3-4 defense like the Packers would play, and Hunt doesn’t exactly fit the mold of what the Packers look for in a defensive end, but we won’t hold that against him. The 6-7, 280 lb. native of Estonia was nearly unblockable in the Hawaii Bowl win over Fresno State with three tackles, all for a loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a safety.
Defensive tackle Shariff Floyd, Florida––Florida might have gotten embarrassed in their Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville, but it wasn’t because of Floyd who had five tackles, two sacks and blocked a field goal in the Gators’ loss. The junior defensive tackle has decided to come out early.
Defensive end Malliciah Goodman, Clemson––Goodman isn’t 300-plus lbs. like the Packers like their defensive ends, but he could be a situational pass rusher. Of his four tackles in the big Peach Bowl* win over LSU, three of them were sacks, and Goodman was also able to bat down a pass.
Outside linebacker Alex Okafor, Texas––Okafor isn’t a whole lot different than Nick Perry, a 4-3 defensive that at 6-5 and 265 lbs., would have have to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He was unstoppable in Texas’ Alamo Bowl win over Oregon State when he made eight tackles, six for a loss, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Outside linebacker Tremayne Scott, Ohio––Scott might play in a three-point stance at Ohio, but at 6-3 and 257 lbs., he’s another potential outside linebacker convert. After missing a majority of the regular season with a foot injury, Scott returned for the bowl game in a big, big way by making five tackles, two sacks and notching an interception in the Bobcats’ win over Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl.
Inside linebacker Khaseem Greene, Rutgers––Greene’s nose for the football was never more apparent than in Rutgers’ win over Virginia Tech in the Tangerine Bowl* when he made a team-leading 11 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, half a sack and recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the end zone. The Tangerine Bowl was an ugly, defensive battle, and Greene was one of the reasons why.
Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, Georgia––Ogletree did his best from preventing Nebraska from getting putting up big numbers as the inside linebacker made a team-leading 13 tackles, three for a loss, a sack, two hurries, a forced fumble and a recovery.
Cornerback Jamar Taylor, Boise State––Taylor notched an interception and made four tackles in Boise State’s Las Vegas Bowl victory over Washington.
Cornerback Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech––Sweeting returned an interception for 21 yards and had two pass break-ups, but it was the way he helped contain the terrific USC wide receiver duo of Marqise Lee and Robert Woods that was so impressive. The Trojans only had 205 yards of offense in the Sun Bowl and only 107 through the air.
Safety Terence Garvin, West Virginia––If West Virginia had more players like Garvin on the defensive side of the football, they’d be a whole lot better. Even though he might be listed as a linebacker, he plays a spur/safety position for the Mountaineers and made plays against the both the run and the pass in a losing effort in the Pinstripe Bowl. Garvin had a team-leading 15 tackles, three for a loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass broken up.
Safety D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina––Swearinger’s forced fumble was key in South Carolina’s Hall of Fame Bowl* victory over Michigan. He also had a team-leading nine tackles and two passes broken up.
Kicker Brett Baer, Louisiana-Lafayette––Baer went 3-for-3 on field goals, including a 50-yarder as Louisiana-Lafayette got by East Carolina in the New Orleans Bowl. He also went 4-for-5 on extra points and had one blocked, but we’ll place the blame on line for that one. As the team’s punter, Baer also only allowed a single punt return yard on five punts, placed two inside the 20 and forced three fair catches.
Punter Riley Stephenson, BYU––Stephenson pinned San Diego State deep all night long in the Poinsettia Bowl win, placing six of eight punts inside the 20. The Aztecs had a hard time getting anything going on offense, gaining only 263 yards all night, partially because of their poor field position.
What Happened Before Saturday
On Friday evening, one of the lesser known of all the postseason college all-star games took place, the Casino del Sol game in Tucson, Arizona.
Even though the Casino del Sol game is off-the-radar of even some of the hardest-of-hardcore NFL Draft fans, Packers fan will be happy to know it’s not off-the-radar of general manager Ted Thompson who was reportedly in attendance at the week of practice, according to the Arizona Daily Wildcat.
Last year Thompson also visited the Casino del Sol practices, one of only two general managers in the entire NFL to do so, which is perhaps where right tackle Don Barclay caught his eye.
Barclay was one of the players from last year’s game to play in a regular season NFL game this season. Maybe Thompson can strike gold once again.
The MVP of the game was Stanford wide receiver Drew Terrell who had 59 receiving yards, a touchdown and a 34-yard punt return, reported the Arizona Daily Star.
Terrell was underutilized in a Stanford offense that threw more often to their tight ends than wide receivers. Both Stanford tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo recently declared for the NFL Draft as underclassmen.
Another standout was Arizona fullback Taimi Tutogi, a two-way player for the Wildcats that saw time at both fullback and defensive end as a senior (and was actually listed above in our All-Bowl game team), although he was used primarily as a blocking back in Rich Rodriguez’s offense.
Tutogi actually had the opportunity to touch the ball on Friday with five carries for 28 yards and a touchdown.
*I refuse to use bowl sponsor names, instead choosing to use its traditional or conceptual name.
Brian Carriveau is the author of “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and an editor at Cheesehead TV. To contact Brian, email email@example.com.