BY DAVID CHOUGH
Taylor Cornelius, QB, Oklahoma State
Some quarterbacks might shy away from the moment and crumble after a disappointing loss early in the season. Other quarterbacks might take a few games to get back on track. But signal callers like Taylor Cornelius make sure to take advantage of their schedule and come out firing on all cylinders during the next opportunity that they have. With a plucky Kansas team scheduled this week, Cornelius and the Cowboys needed to make sure they did not look past their opponent, who upset Texas in the not-so distant past.
From the first drive, Cornelius made sure to make a statement. He only threw the ball twice, but both went for completions, the last of which ended in an 11-yard touchdown. After the Jayhawks missed a field goal on their next drive, Cornelius made some plays with his feet before displaying his soft touch on a pass that went 42 yards to the house and put the Cowboys up 14. When Kansas finally responded with a score of its own, the senior passer shrugged off any inkling of pressure and made the perfect read to get the ball to his wide receiver Tyron Johnson, who, 64 yards later, put the Cowboys up 21-7 with a touchdown on each of their opening three drives.
Once halftime rolled around, it was already too late for Kansas. Cornelius had gotten into a groove. He came out guns blazing with a 56-yard strike to set up the Cowboys in the red zone. Two plays later, they would punch in another score. Even after an interception, Cornelius was not fazed, bouncing back with a touchdown to put the Jayhawks away for good.
In the end, only five of the senior’s passes fell incomplete, and four of his throws went for scores. He displayed poise and accuracy from the pocket, and with a dominant run game, Cornelius did the most important thing a quarterback can do: take advantage of what the defense gives you. The game didn’t require him to be the hero; it just necessitated him making the right read each time. Whether it was through the air or even on the ground, Cornelius rebounded strong from the previous week’s loss and put up his third 300-plus-yard outing of the season. With much of the year left to play, especially in Big 12 competition, all eyes will be on Cornelius to see if he can keep the magic going.
Wesley Fields, RB, Georgia Southern
With the Eagles looking to rebound after a loss to Clemson, all hands were needed on deck as Georgia Southern tried to impose its will in the run game against Arkansas State. While Fields contributed to a number of big plays on the ground (including a blistering 64-yarder), his biggest play might’ve been through the air. With time running down in the first period, Fields turned a simple wheel route into a burner of a score, racing down the sideline for a 61-yard touchdown. He would finish the day with 159 all-purpose yards.
Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson
Syracuse had already knocked off Clemson last year, and when the Tigers’ quarterback left the game, it looked like a repeat upset was on its way. But with the offense sputtering, it was up to the defense to make the necessary stops, and Joseph was among those who rose to the top. The senior linebacker chased down the Orangemen from all angles of the field, registering 12 total tackles, eight of them solo. Anyone who got past the line of scrimmage had to contend with number 34, and he made them pay. By the end, the Tigers made enough stops to claw back into the game, as Joseph and rest of the defense emerged victorious and, as of yet this season, undefeated.
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Following an explosive first game of the season, Isabella has had a tough time getting free for more big plays. Well, on Saturday against Ohio, Isabella had enough, and absolutely erupted against the Bobcats defense. Whether it was bracket coverage, man or zone, nothing could not stop the quick and sure-handed receiver, as he hauled in 12 catches for 198 yards. Of those 12, Isabella took three to the house, scoring from 39, 37, and 55 yards out.
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 4:
Chad Williams- WR
Sunday’s game against the Seahawks marked a big day for Williams, who snagged a tough 22-yard catch in the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
John Franklin Myers- DL
Los Angeles Rams
The rookie lineman made a critical play late in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s win against the Vikings, strip-sacking Kirk Cousins to force a turnover that helped keep the Rams undefeated at home.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling- WR
Green Bay Packers
In his first NFL start, Valdes-Scantling stepped in for injured Randall Cobb and caught one pass for 38 yards on Green Bay’s final scoring drive during a 22-0 win over Buffalo.
Tarik Cohen- RB
In Chicago’s 48-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cohen had a BIG game. The versatile back had 13 carries for 53 yards and caught seven passes for 121 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown run.
Jatavis Brown- LB
Los Angeles Chargers
Brown accumulated a season-high nine tackles and a pass defended in the Chargers’ 29-27 win over the 49ers.
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 3:
LB Avery Williamson
New York Jets
The fifth-year veteran posted arguably the most impressive statline on the entire Jets defense with a team-high of 14 tackles and two sacks versus the Browns.
DB Duron Harmon
New England Patriots
Even though the game ended in a loss to the Lions, Harmon made his presence felt with eight tackles.
K Josh Lambo
All of the Jaguars points were posted by Lambo during a loss to Tennessee. He was two for two on field goal attempts with kicks from 46 and 38 yards. The performance pushed his streak of consecutive made field goals to 16, which stands as the third-best streak in Jaguars franchise history.
BY DAVID CHOUGH
Jonathan Duhart, WR, Old Dominion
Casual fans may never have heard of Old Dominion’s team before, and even those who do follow college football might not be aware of where the school is located. But after this weekend, everyone should know that Old Dominion is in Norfolk, Virginia, and despite entering their game at 0-3, the Monarchs shocked the world by upsetting No. 13 Virginia Tech, 49-35..
An upset of that magnitude, with Old Dominion in the Conference USA cellar heading to the matchup against the Hokies, requires peak performances from everyone on the team, especially the seniors. And when the Monarchs turned to their backup quarterback, Jonathan Duhart and his fellow wideouts made sure to step up big time.
Duhart had already started off the season strong, registering back-to-back weeks of over 100 yards receiving, but it was hard for him to break into the national spotlight. He had missed most of last season, and though he caught nine touchdowns in 2016, there was no telling whether that would transfer over into a game like this.
Each time his team needed someone to make a play, Duhart delivered. In the first quarter, after Virginia Tech had just scored a long touchdown, Duhart and the offense capped off their own 75-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown grab by the senior wideout to tie the score at 7 apiece. The two teams traded blows for the rest of the first half, and despite a missed field goal by ODU, the offense never wavered, as Duhart got open in the end zone with just four seconds remaining to tie the score again at halftime.
The back-and-forth continued in the second half, and thanks to Duhart reeling in more passes from quarterback Blake LaRussa, the Monarchs kept pace. With the score tied at 28, Duhart snagged a 27-yard catch that led to an ODU touchdown. After the Hokies again knotted the score, Duhart delivered with a highlight reel, over-the-shoulder grab despite a defender draped over him to register the touchdown that would ultimately seal victory.
None of his touchdowns were pretty; they were all hard-fought, and if it was someone else, maybe they couldn’t have made the play. But Duhart, with his innate body control and strong hands, made sure to secure the ball almost every time as he finished with nine catches for 142 yards, three touchdowns, and of course, a sweet upset as the Monarchs would have their day.
David Blough, QB, Purdue
Old Dominion wasn’t the only unranked, winless team with an upset over a ranked opponent. The Boilermakers also made light work of Boston College. The Eagles had no answer for Purdue’s Blough, who connected with six different receivers for 296 yards and three scores, all while completing 75 percent of his passes as Purdue rolled to a 30-13 win.
Tre Watson, LB, Maryland
Maryland started the season strong with a win over Texas that is looking better by the week, but the Terps needed to show their worth in Big Ten conference play if they wanted to be taken seriously. Cue the music, as Watson might as well have taken up residence in the Minnesota offense. He finished the day with 11 tackles, a sack, and a beautiful interception that he returned 36 yards for the score.
Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple
Armstead was known to have a nose for the end zone as a sophomore when he found pay dirt 14 times, but this season has been a bit tougher. Despite two 100-plus-yard rushing efforts, the featured back had yet to find the end zone. That “streak” came to an end against Tulsa, as Armstead ran all over the defense for 108 yards and that elusive touchdown.
Isaiah Buggs, DE, Alabama
Another year, another dominant Alabama defensive lineman. Buggs had already started off strong with two sacks in his first two games, and this past weekend against Texas A&M, he was nearly unstoppable. Not only did he have seven tackles, but he also notched three sacks as the Crimson Tide defense looks as intimidating as ever.
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 2:
DB Shaquill Griffin
Despite entering the game as questionable with a thigh injury, that didn’t stop Griffin from snagging two interceptions to go with three passes defended and four tackles. His defense helped keep the game close with clutch plays and interceptions on consecutive drives to interrupt the Bears momentum. The second-year cornerback showed great displays of athleticism and agility, which is exactly what the Seahawks need as they search for their first win of the year.
P Marquette King
In a close win against his old team, the Oakland Raiders, King showed off his incredible talent with a total of 204 yards on four punts for an average of 51 yards per kick.
TE Will Dissly
The rookie tight end put together another strong showing, this time on the Monday Night Football stage against the Chicago Bears. Dissly caught three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. Through two games, he sits as the team’s top receiver with six catches, 147 yards and two touchdowns. And according to the Seahawks, this output makes him the first rookie tight end in NFL history to start his career with a touchdown and more than 40 yards receiving in consecutive games.
BY DAVID CHOUGH
Wyatt Ray, DE, Boston College
Boston College senses that there might be an opening in the ACC, and the way Eagles are playing, they are looking to bust the conference wide open. This past weekend, Boston College took its 2-0 record up against a Wake Forest team that had totaled 74 points in its first two games. With his team in need of a defensive spark against this ACC foe, Wyatt Ray stepped up by having the game of his life with four sacks.
After logging a sack last week against Holy Cross, Ray got off to a fast start Saturday, notching his first sack in the opening quarter to put the Demon Deacons behind the sticks and on notice. While Wake Forest would move the ball at times, they were constantly hounded by pressure when trying to pass, and Ray made his presence felt in the run game, too. He finished the game with eight total tackles, including seven solo stops.
Those stops would be necessary with Wake Forest threatening in the fourth quarter. Following a critical third-down conversion by the Demon Deacons with 10 minutes to play, Boston College needed someone to step up. Ray answered the call, promptly sacking the opposing quarterback for a 7-yard loss on first down and completely thwarting the momentum of the drive. After two plays that went nowhere, Wake Forest had to punt the ball back to the Eagles.
On its final drive of the game, Wake Forest managed to move the ball down the field, but BC once again clamped down. After wrapping up the quarterback on first down, Ray registered his fourth sack of the day two plays later to force Wake Forest into a fourth-down situation. Though the Demon Deacons would convert and eventually score a touchdown, Ray’s two sacks on the drive chewed up enough time to force Wake Forest to onside kick. When that failed, BC was able to run out the clock and secure the win.
After registering just 2.5 sacks a year ago, Ray surpassed that in just one game. And with his combination of size and pass-rushing tricks, the senior defensive end looks poised to continue his strong output and keep the victories coming for Boston College.
Lexington Thomas, RB, UNLV
Standing at 5-foot-9, Thomas isn’t the most imposing figure. But he carried the rock 30 times against Prairie View this past weekend, notching his third consecutive 100-yard effort on the season and a touchdown as well. Though his trademark speed was bottled up by the defense, Thomas showed that he’s more than just a one-trick pony by consistently moving the chains.
Marcus Green, University of Louisiana-Monroe
The Warhawks never quit even as Texas A&M dominated the game, and that was especially true of Green. The senior wideout managed to get behind the Aggies defense for 44 yards, and even though he didn’t find the end zone, he still finished with four catches for 75 yards. Though he might have preferred the win, it definitely helped prove that his first two weeks of production were no fluke.
Blake Banham, RB, Eastern Michigan
The positional label of “offensive weapon” never quite took off, but if there was ever a player deserving of it in college football, Banham fits the bill. Listed as a running back, Banham made the most of his touches through the air, catching nine balls for 159 yards, including a 75-yard scamper for a score. With nary a rushing attempt on the season but an impressive 23 receptions and 361 yards receiving, Banham is a threat however he gets the ball in his hands.
Gary Johnson, LB, Texas
It didn’t have the drama of the previous two matchups between these storied programs, but Johnson helped launch the Longhorns into yet another victory over USC. He finished with six tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble while preventing any attempt at a comeback by USC.
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.
CHUCK PAGANO, MIKE TICE NAMED HEAD COACHES OF NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL
Former NFL head coaches bring expertise to postseason all-star game in its eighth year
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new set of head coaches will roam the sidelines for the eighth annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Chuck Pagano, who most recently spent five seasons as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, brings his extensive NFL and collegiate football coaching experience to the game. His 16 years of at the NCAA level culminated in a stint with the University of Miami from 1995 to 2000, when he recruited and coached four first-round NFL draft picks as the defensive backs and special teams coach.
From there, Pagano took his defensive mastery to the pro level, where he worked with the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens before taking the reins of the Colts. In five years, he guided the Colts to a 56-46 record and an appearance in the 2012 AFC Championship Game.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this great game and help this next class of athletes transition from college to the NFL,” said Pagano, who will lead the American Team at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Tice boasts a similar extensive background, highlighted by his four-year run as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Despite going undrafted as a quarterback out of the University of Maryland, Tice put together a 14-year NFL playing career at tight end for the Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Washington Redskins.
After serving as the tight ends and offensive line coach, he ascended up the ladder to be named head coach of the Vikings in 2002. Tice spent the 2006-2017 seasons as an assistant head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders.
“I am thrilled to take part in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this coming January,” said Tice, who will coach the National Team. “I’m looking forward to working with these players in achieving their goal of playing professional football.”
The eighth annual postseason all-star game will be played on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at the historic Rose Bowl Stadium, once again bringing together the top draft-eligible players from colleges and conferences across the country.
About the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl:
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 are expected be in attendance 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.