American vs. National|
Saturday, January 18, 6 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
GAME NOTES: NFL Draft-eligible players will put their talents on display at
the StubHub Center on Saturday afternoon in the 3rd-annual NFLPA Collegiate
Patrolling the sideline for the American squad is Denny Green, who made his
mark in the NFL as the head coach of the Vikings and the Cardinals. Returning
as head coach of the National squad is the legendary Dick Vermeil, who won the
Rose Bowl as coach of UCLA in 1975 before enjoying an illustrious NFL career
with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs, winning a Super Bowl with St. Louis. Vermeil
led the National team to victories in the 2012 (20-14) and 2013 (34-0)
editions of this game.
Headlining the American offense is Missouri quarterback James Franklin, who,
despite missing four games in the middle of the season with a shoulder injury,
finished with 2,429 yards (on 62.1 percent completions) with 19 touchdowns to
just six interceptions, while adding impressive rushing totals as well (510
yards, four TDS). Kenny Guiton also has a lot to prove. The Ohio State signal
caller was stuck behind Braxton Miller on the depth chart but was brilliant in
limited action early in the season (.688 completions, 749 yards, 14 TDs, two
INTs). Also lining up under center for American will be UNLV's Caleb Herring
(2,718 passing yards, 346 rushing yards, 29 total TDs, five INTs) and Sean
Schroeder from Hawaii (2,960 yards, 28 TDs, 14 INTs).
American is only carrying two tailbacks -- Oklahoma's Roy Finch (347 yards)
and Franklyn Quiteh (2,195 yards, 29 TDs), the Division II Player of the Year
out of Bloomsburg. Fullbacks Kiero Small (Arkansas) and Chad Young (San Diego
State) will also get to show their skills.
At receiver, Texas Tech's Eric Ward (83 receptions, 947 yards, eight TDs),
Hawaii's Chris Gant (59 receptions, 973 yards, nine TDs) and Buffalo's Alex
Neutz (61 receptions, 1,024 yards, 12 TDs) will all try to build upon
impressive seasons. Small-school pass catchers Greg Hardin (North Dakota),
Gerald Ford (Valdosta State), Tony Washington (Appalachian State) and Corey
Washington (Newberry) will also be given a big stage to play on, while Brian
Wozniak (Wisconsin) and Terrence Miller (Arizona) will represent the tight end
Anchoring the American defense is a pair of SEC linebackers in Kentucky's
Avery Williamson (102 tackles) and Missouri's Andrew Wilson (113 tackles, 6.5
TFL). The squad also has impressive talent along the defensive line with Kasim
Edebali (Boston College), Nate Askew (Texas A&M) and Seali'i Epenesa (UCLA) as
well as in the defensive backfield with Ciante Evans (Nebraska) Demetrius
Wright (USC) and CJ Barnett (Ohio State).
On the National side, Connor Shaw is expected to lead the charge at
quarterback after posting an outstanding senior season at South Carolina,
completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 2,447 yards, rushing for 558 yards
and combining for 30 touchdowns while throwing just a single interception.
Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay (.663 completions, 3,302 yards, 22 TDs, 12 INTs)
will also get his chance to prove himself, as will Kolton Browning (ULM) and
Dustin Vaughan (West Texas A&M).
Trey Watts out of Tulsa is arguably the most talented running back in this
event, having displayed excellence both as a rusher (1,329 yards, 11 TDs) and
a receiver (46 receptions, 395 yards, TD). James Sims (1,110 yards, seven TDs)
was one of the only weapons on a lackluster Kansas team, and Anthony Wilkerson
(353 yards, two TDs) was solid in limited reps for Stanford.
Isaiah Burse (99 receptions, 1,026 yards, six TDs) benefitted greatly from his
future-NFL quarterback Derek Carr at Fresno State and is out to prove he's a
high-quality playmaker. On the contrary, Albert Wilson out of Georgia State
had very little talent surrounding him yet still finished with 71 receptions
for 1,117 yards and eight touchdowns. Rounding out the receiving talent is
Kadron Boone (LSU), Je'Ron Hamm (ULM), Darryl Surgent (Louisiana), Eric Thomas
(Troy) and Martin Bayless Jr. (Central Methodist).
Defensively, Jimmy Legree is a high-impact defensive back out of South
Carolina, as he racked up 55 tackles, 5.5 TFL and three interceptions this
season. Oklahoma State linebacker Shaun Lewis (58 tackles, 7.5 TFL),
Mississippi State linebacker Deonte Skinner (64 tackles), Syracuse linebacker
Marquis Spruill (66 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks) and Southern Miss defensive
lineman Khyri Thornton (39 tackles, 6.5 TFL) are expected to be standouts for
the unit as well.
Whether it be a proven producer, a player with great talent but limited by
injuries over his career, an overachiever from a small program, or even a guy
who didn't get his fair share of playing time on a elite team, every player in
this game has something to show in order to improve their stock come NFL Draft
time in May. Figure on event veteran Vermeil to continue his reign with the
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: National 38, American 35
01/17 13:51:52 ET