Every week during the NFL regular season, we will track notable performances by NFL players who participated in the Collegiate Bowl. Here are the top performers from Week 1:
Frankie Luvu- New York Jets
After being called up from the practice squad on Saturday, Luvu ended up being one of the most vital rookies during the Jets’ season-opening 48-17 win over the Lions. Luvu played 50 percent of the Jets defensive snaps and made three tackles, including a shoelace stop. The 21-year-old Samoan out of Washington State appears ready to earn more playing time as the season wears on.
Genard Avery- Cleveland Browns
The linebacker out of Memphis played at an elite level in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With four tackles and a sack, Genard stepped up in the absence of Emmanuel Ogbah by adding another source of quarterback pressure. After an impressive performance, the Browns hope that his strong play will help them win their first game since 2016.
Will Dissly- Seattle Seahawks
In his NFL debut, Dissly finished the game as the Seahawks leading receive, catching four passes for 105 yards. The tight end snagged Seattle’s first touchdown of the day on a 15-yard pass from Russell Wilson. Head coach Pete Carroll was clearly impressed with Dissly, saying afterward, “Jeez, he was on fire. I was shouting, ‘Ditka!’ He looked like Mike Ditka out there.” Dissly seems to be fitting right in with the Seahawks offense and a top target for Wilson.
BY DAVID CHOUGH
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
After a dominant showing the week before against SEC power Tennessee, when the senior signal caller passed for 429 yards and five touchdowns, Grier kept up the momentum this past weekend against Youngstown State and again put the nation on notice.
From the first drive, Grier picked up right where he left off in the opener, converting a third-and-short and a third-and-long in the same series to get the West Virginia offense going. An untimely interception ended that drive, but the mark of a good quarterback is a short-term memory. Right on cue, Grier led WVU on a scoring drive the next time they got the ball, displaying a soft touch on his short- and medium-range passes. It would be the first of two consecutive scoring drives that helped the Mountaineers build a two-score lead at the half.
From there, Grier came out guns blazing. He threw a beautiful deep ball to Gary Jennings for a touchdown to start the third quarter, and continued to attack the deep part of the field for the rest of the game. Youngstown State could not handle his arm strength, as he completed passes of 30 or more yards on three of the next four drives. Along the way, Grier spread the wealth, competing each of his three deep balls to a different receiver, which really opened up the passing game. His last play of the game was an appropriate one, hitting Dominique Maiden wide open in the end zone for 40 yards to put West Virginia up by 32.
In all, Grier completed an absurd 80.8 percent of his passes for 332 yards, and it felt as though he could’ve thrown for more if West Virginia had needed it. One key for quarterbacks is to not fall into trap games and take opposing teams lightly after a statement win. Knowing this, Grier made sure to keep his concentration high in bringing his A-game despite the perceived quality of the opponent. West Virginia will need Grier to continue on this warpath if it wants to make some noise in November and beyond.
Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri
The best wide receivers deliver greatness consistently, but Hall did it on a very precise level this week. After going off for 171 yards receiving against UT Martin, Hall displayed his uncanny ability to shake defenders with his combination of size and speed for another 171 yards receiving, this time against Wyoming.
Kelvin McKnight, WR, Samford
Their bid for a major upset may have fallen short, but Samford and especially McKnight showed plenty of heart in their hard-fought matchup against Florida State. McKnight consistently got open against the Seminoles’ secondary, using his footwork to turn catches into big plays with 14 catches for 215 yards and two scores.
Drew Eckels, QB, Western Kentucky
It was a rough day for Eckles and the Hilltoppers, as he was sacked six times in a loss to Maine. But Eckles still delivered with 347 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and even led his team down the field with under a minute to set up what would have been a game-tying field goal. His never-quit attitude will be a key asset for Western Kentucky down the line.
Josh Watson, LB, Colorado State
Colorado State hung on to beat Arkansas, and Watson’s tenacity played a huge part in upsetting this SEC foe. The senior’s ability to play sideline-to-sideline allowed him to play a part in 12 tackles and even get a pass deflection, as the Rams won 34-27.
For Immediate Release
June 20, 2018
Contact: Brandon Parker | Communications Manager
Brandon.firstname.lastname@example.org | 202-756-9160
NFLPA NAMES DOUG WHALEY AS NEW DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING
Former Buffalo Bills GM will lead recruiting efforts for annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The NFL Players Association is proud to announce Doug Whaley as its new director of college scouting. Whaley will head up the recruitment, evaluation and selection process of top draft-eligible prospects for the annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
“We are thrilled to have Doug join our team,” said Teri Smith, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl director and deputy managing director of the NFLPA. “His knowledge of the scouting landscape, along with his vast NFL résumé, will help continue the Collegiate Bowl’s growth and benefit the game’s participants as they learn the business of football.”
Whaley brings 22 years of NFL personnel experience to this role, including stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills. The Pittsburgh native got his start in 1995 with the Steelers as an assistant in their personnel department. After serving as the East Coast area scout for the Seattle Seahawks for three years, Whaley re-joined the Steelers as their pro scouting coordinator, helping lead them to two Super Bowl wins during his 11-year tenure.
In 2010, Whaley was hired by the Buffalo Bills as their assistant general manager and pro personnel director. His strong leadership ability and wisdom led the Bills to promote him to the position of general manager, where he served from 2013-2017.
“I’m grateful to the NFLPA for entrusting me with this opportunity to work with a marquee collegiate showcase,” Whaley said. “We are an organization that will be with the players for their entire careers both on and off the field. I’m thrilled to serve in this capacity of introducing them to the union, our partners and the many great programs available to help them make the most of their experience.”
Whaley replaces Tony Softli, who stepped down following four successful years to take over as director of scouting for the Alliance of American Football.
Founded in 2012, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl gives prospective players the best opportunity to showcase their talents to potential employers and fans. Nearly 200 scouts, player personnel staff, general managers and head coaches from all 32 NFL teams attend the annual all-star game to watch live practices, conduct player interviews and review tape.
About the NFL Players Association:
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020. Learn more at www.nflpa.com.
April 30, 2018
Nineteen players from the 2018 Collegiate Bowl heard their name called over the weekend in Dallas during the NFL Draft.
Tarvarius Moore was the first taken off the board. The safety out of Southern Mississippi was drafted in the third round (95th overall) by the San Francisco 49ers.
One round later, 2018 Collegiate Bowl MVP Troy Apke (Penn State) was selected by the Washington Redskins. The Penn State safety, whom NFLPA Collegiate Bowl National Team Coach Mike Martz called “the best player we’ve had,” recorded seven tackles, one forced fumble and a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown during the Jan. 20 contest for top draft-eligible prospects.
Moore and Apke were two of four Collegiate Bowl alum drafted in the first 150 picks. William Dissly, a tight end, went at No. 120 to Seattle and defensive end John Franklin-Myers went at No. 135 to the Los Angeles Rams.
|Tarvarius||Moore||Southern Miss||San Francisco 49ers||3|
|Troy||Apke||Penn State||Washington Redskins||4|
|William||Dissly||University of Washington||Seattle Seahawks||4|
|John||Franklin-Myers||Stephen F. Austin||Los Angeles Rams||4|
|Genardveous||Avery||University of Memphis||Cleveland Browns||5|
|Marquez||Valdes-Scantling||University of South Florida||Green Bay Packers:||5|
|Adetarami||Aruna||Tulane University||Minnesota Vikings||6|
|Trenton||Cannon||Virginia State University||New York Jets||6|
|Jamil||Demby||Maine||Los Angeles Rams||6|
|Parry||Nickerson||Tulane||New York Jets||6|
|Quentin||Poling||Ohio University||Miami Dolphins||7|
|Austin||Proehl||North Carolina||Buffalo Bills||7|
|David||Williams||University of Arkansas||Denver Broncos||7|
|Logan||Woodside||University Of Toledo||Cincinnati Bengals||7|
In the weeks leading up the seventh annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 20 at the Rose Bowl Stadium, we will profile 10 draft-eligible players who have committed to play in the prestigious all-star game. Today’s feature is on UCF defensive lineman Tony Guerad.
Central Florida’s rise from winless to undefeated (and arguable national champion) was brought to fruition by many big-name players and personalities on the team. But none of that would have been possible without athletes like Tony Guerad doing their absolute best to anchor the team’s performance week-in and week-out.
After a promising stint as a sophomore for the Black Knights during their infamous 0-11 run in 2015, Guerad reportedly wanted to leave the team after putting up only five tackles for a loss and two sacks. Luckily for UCF, he came back the following season and the benefits were almost immediate.
In a tightly contested game against Maryland, Guerad had two sacks and three tackles for a loss while routinely disrupting the offensive line. He followed that effort up with another 1.5 sacks against East Carolina before going the rest of the season without another quarterback takedown. However, it’d be wrong to quantify Guerad’s impact based on just his sacks.
UCF’s reputation as having a staunch defense grew with each week as he became more comfortable in the trenches. To wit, he finished with 12 total tackles in UCF’s penultimate game in 2016 against Tulane. His nonstop motor and constant upfield drive freed up his linebackers to clean up any runners who made it past the initial wave.
Guerad’s senior year coincided with UCF’s magical run this past season, and that is no coincidence. He had nine total tackles for loss on the year, along with numerous games where he continually pressured the quarterback and forced running backs to make poor decisions in the backfield. Though he did not have a game where he posted more than two TFLs, he had at least 0.5 tackle for loss in eight of the games UCF played.
He especially showed up for big games, including the rivalry matchup against USF, which saw him record 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sack, doing his part to slow down the explosive Bulls offense. It worked well enough for the Black Knights to squeak by with a 49-42 victory.
Guerad again took center stage in UCF’s win over Auburn. He had another half a sack and 1.5 tackles for a loss, and the Tigers could not seem to get the ball moving when he stood in their path. At 6 feet 4 inches and listed at over 300 pounds, it was not easy to stop Guerad from where he wants to go. His willingness to work and do the dirty work endeared him to UCF fans, and will serve him well in his future.
In the weeks leading up the seventh annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 20 at the Rose Bowl Stadium, we will profile 10 draft-eligible players who have committed to play in the prestigious all-star game. Today’s feature is on Central Michigan defensive back Amari Coleman.
Central Michigan might be known for its high-flying offense, but don’t sleep on the guys who make it work on the defensive end.
Amari Coleman was one such defender, and from his sophomore season on, his innate ability to seek out passes and break them up allowed the Chippewas to stay close in many games and eventually, rack up enough victories for them to play in a bowl game every year he started.
From the start, Coleman never let the big stage get to him. After getting most of his playing time as a freshman as the team’s top kick returner, he got his chance to play mainly cornerback the next season. The third game of his sophomore year saw him register his first interception — this after recording two passes defensed the week before.
Standing at 5 foot 11 and 188 pounds, Coleman is not afraid of lowering his shoulder and chipping in on a tackle. He had six tackles in four different games as a sophomore and managed a very impressive eight passes defensed in 2015 — though he never really had a chance to showcase his dangerous speed with the ball in his hands.
That was rectified immediately in his junior year, when he jumped on a pass in the first week of the season and took it 27 yards to the house against Presbyterian College. Three weeks later, he would have another pick-six, this time against Virginia as the college football sphere started to realize that throwing in his general vicinity was not a good idea. Yet for some reason, teams decided to still test his side of the football field, typically to no avail.
Against Ball State, his quick hands and shutdown coverage resulted in three passes broken up, and he had another two in a pivotal triple overtime win over Northern Illinois the following week. Perhaps the most impressive day he had his junior year was against Ohio, a game that CMU desperately needed to win to ensure they would finish at least with six wins on the year. Coleman responded with 8 tackles against the Bobcats; but more importantly, he batted away four passes that were headed his way, showing insane reflexes and instincts to make sure they couldn’t reach their intended targets. His 15 passes defensed on the year led the MAC, and landed him a place on the All-MAC First Team Defense.
Coleman didn’t put up as gaudy numbers in the first half of his final year, but that seemed to mostly be a product of offenses avoiding his side of the field on passing plays. Rhode Island didn’t heed that warning, however, and he snagged two interceptions as a result during a triple overtime victory.
The senior had his third pick of the season against Eastern Michigan and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown, displaying once again his impressive speed and body control. If that wasn’t enough, Coleman also showed a knack for making the right tackle at the right time, leading to four tackles for a loss, — an impressive stat for a cornerback.
Coleman’s quick hands, feet, and mind make him the ideal cover man in any scheme. And opposing MAC quarterbacks will surely breathe a little easier now that his time in the collegiate ranks is over.
In the weeks leading up the seventh annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 20 at the Rose Bowl Stadium, we will profile 10 draft-eligible players who have committed to play in the prestigious all-star game. Today’s feature is on Virginia Tech linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka.
When Andrew Motuapuaka first started to see consistent playing time on the field, it was impossible to miss him. Now, as he prepares to head to the NFL, while many aspects of his game have become more polished from his time as a freshman, there is no doubting his innate ability to wreak havoc on an offensive gameplan.
Motuapuaka was incredible even as an underclassman linebacker for Virginia Tech. There was undoubtedly something special about the Virginia native, as he notched 11 tackles against Miami as a freshman and then registered four straight games of double-digit stops, including four tackles for loss on one occasion and two sacks against Wake Forest. He also managed to find his way into the end zone with a fumble recovery that was returned 11 yards for a score.
While fans of the Hokies undoubtedly knew his name by the time his sophomore campaign rolled around, the national media was put on notice after his dominant display against Georgia Tech. In that game, he had two massive hits (both tackles for a loss), including one that resulted in a forced fumble. With his hair flying out behind him, it was impossible to ignore the fact that he seemed to be involved in every single play. His second year also included his first-ever interception, which he promptly returned 18 yards for a score against Furman.
As impressive as he was, however, Motuapuaka seemed to harness a greater sense and appreciation for what he could accomplish as he became more ingrained with the program. The results paid off immediately. He was much more active in his junior season, setting a career-high in tackles with 114 and immensely improving his coverage abilities. With offenses now having to respect both his presence in the run game and as someone who could disrupt the offensive line, Motuapuaka took advantage of those preconceptions by working on his ability to drop back and cover. The result was three interceptions and seven passes defensed.
Motuapuaka’s coup de grace came in his last year for Virginia Tech. As one of the team’s leaders, he set the tone every game, only now, he had a football IQ and awareness to couple with his intensity and range. This led to his 92 total tackles, including 11.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. Gone might’ve been the long, flowing locks, but his persistent play was the only indication offensive players needed to know they were in for a long day. He also continued his evolution as a coverage linebacker with eight passes defensed and one interception.
Motuapuaka leaves Blacksburg with accolades, growth, and even four total touchdowns as a defender. Now all he has left to do is gobble up offenses in the NFL.
In the weeks leading up the seventh annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 20 at the Rose Bowl Stadium, we will profile 10 draft-eligible players who have committed to play in the prestigious all-star game. Today’s feature is on Wyoming defensive back Rico Gafford.
With most cornerbacks, having a reputation can either be extremely good or extremely bad. After all, these coverage men are usually only mentioned when they are famous as a shutdown corner … or they have been routinely burned. But after transferring from community college, Rico Gafford didn’t have time to build up a slow-burning reputation, nor could he afford to be known as someone who gets routinely beat. So Gafford did the only thing that allowed him to succeed at every level of football he’s competed: make big plays.
When Gafford joined Wyoming as a junior, most fans weren’t sure of what to expect from him. Within a few games, it was readily clear that they had a very talented and willing football player on their hands. His first game was an absolute nail-biter, featuring three overtimes against Northern Illinois in a game where he had eight total tackles. Two weeks later against UC Davis, Gafford registered his first interception, and returned it 32 yards.
After that, teams began to generally avoid his area of the field, until Boise State tried its hand. The previous three drives had gone for touchdowns, so why not keep throwing it? Well, with Gafford in the area, he snagged the errant pass and took it 32 yards, setting up the touchdown that sparked Wyoming’s comeback victory.
Gafford has never been the biggest nor the strongest defender on the field, but his willingness to make a stop in the run game was very much appreciated and allowed greater flexibility in what the defense could do. Even so, Gafford knew that he had to take advantage of his final year of college eligibility… and boy, did he.
The Iowa native started off the season by recording an interception against the Iowa Hawkeyes, and then recording three tackles and a pass defensed the following week against Gardner-Webb. He then snagged an interception against Oregon, and then two weeks later, he registered eight total tackles against Hawaii.
Another pick came against Texas State, returning this one 37 yards to the house. But it was against Utah State that Gafford put together his finest performance as a cornerback. In that game, he picked off the Aggies during their second drive of the second half, keeping the score deadlocked at 16. The Cowboys would eventually win 28-23, and Gafford finished with two other passes defensed.
He rounded out his senior campaign with an impressive showing against Central Michigan, helping to harass the opponent into four interceptions as Wyoming cruised to a 37-14 victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. He may have only gotten two years to do it, but Gafford built up quite a positive reputation for himself to take to the next level.