When making the transition from high school to college, it makes sense that some positions take longer to adapt to the physicality and size of the collegiate level. Defensive line especially comes to mind, but Ryan Bee bucked the trend for Marshall and contributed almost immediately as a freshman.
After getting his feet wet in the 2015 season for the first two weeks, he exploded onto the scene against Old Dominion. Back then, No. 91 mostly played defensive end, and he wreaked havoc in the Monarchs backfield, logging 12 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks to go with a forced fumble. While he was still one of the youngest players on the field, he played like a veteran, utilizing every inch of his 6-foot-7 frame along with his array of moves to disengage from blocks.
That early success must have given Bee confidence, as he continued to put in impressive performances each week and finished his freshman campaign with 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks, including one of each against Connecticut in his first bowl game. This upward trajectory only continued in his sophomore year, where he came into his own by combining his pass-rushing ability with his length, making him nearly unblockable at times.
The biggest change came during his junior year — and this might be the most indicative of Bee’s knowledge of the game and sheer physical talent. After spending his first two years as an edge rusher and bringing value from the end, he moved to playing primarily as an interior defensive linemen. While much of the stats glory seems to go to the edge rushers, Bee managed to shine just as bright from his new spot inside, using his length to overwhelm centers and guards. Bee ended up notching 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks during his junior campaign.
Though senior years are supposed to be the culmination of every player’s career, Bee suffered a setback early on when he was forced to miss the first few games due to injury and played on a limited snap count afterwards. But in his first game back with regular action, Bee didn’t take long to get going as he registered two sacks and a forced fumble against Western Kentucky and continued that torrid pace from there.
Now, all those years of honing his defensive line techniques were perfectly mastered with his frame. This showed up not just in the stat line but on the field, where even when he couldn’t get to the quarterback, he was able to get his hands up to redirect passes. That aspect of his play was on display in his final game, when Bee registered three tackles and a pass deflection in victory against South Florida.
With the positional flexibility to excel anywhere on the defensive line, the question is not where will Bee slot in, but how much disruption can he cause while playing there. If his collegiate career is anything to go by, the answer will likely cause offensive linemen fits.
– David Chough
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Analyst
To paraphrase an oft-spoken quote, with great talent comes great responsibility. And when Jake Browning stepped onto the campus of the University of Washington, there was almost too much responsibility placed on his shoulders.
Browning became the first true freshman to start a season opener for UW and in 13 starts, the young signal caller performed admirably. The numbers were strong for an early start, with almost 3,000 yards through the air and more touchdowns than interceptions; but even as Browning led the Huskies to a bowl game, there was a hint of something on the horizon as to what he could bring to the team.
The college football world didn’t have to wait long, as the very next year, Browning showed just why the coaching staff had put so much trust in him from the start. Now with a year of experience under his belt, Browning was able to display a mastery of the Huskies offense, continually finding the right targets from a variety of launch angles and able to almost seamlessly throw to every spot on the field.
His ability to take command of the offense brought the Huskies to the College Football Playoff, where they faced off against Alabama in the Peach Bowl. Though they ended up losing to the Tide, the semifinal appearance was the cherry on top for an incredible year where he threw for 43 touchdowns, just 9 interceptions, and contributed four more scores on the ground.
Even after undergoing shoulder surgery following that sophomore campaign, Browning has continued to be a consistent source of offense and leadership for UW. In 2017, Browning delivered one of the finest performances of his collegiate career, bouncing back from a heartbreaking loss to Stanford to throw for a season-high 354 yards and two touchdowns in a thrilling 33-30 victory over Utah.
His play ultimately led the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl where they lost by a single score to Penn State. And in his final collegiate season, Browning righted the ship for the Huskies after an early loss to Auburn by leading them to the Rose Bowl, marking the first time in 18 years that the Huskies were playing in the “Grandaddy of them all.”
Browning leaves UW as one of the most decorated and statistically dominant quarterbacks in the program’s history, and with his understanding of offensive concepts, pocket presence, footwork, and delivery, there is no question he is ready to step into a pro offense at the next level.
– David Chough
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Analyst
For some players, filling up the stat sheet and getting their names mentioned by the announcers on every play is the goal. Or perhaps it even comes easy to them due to their position. But for the top defensive backs, they do their jobs best when their names are rarely called, only surfacing in key moments to shut down wide receivers in the most important plays of the game. Quarterbacks fear to target them, and so they hardly have the chance to log eye-popping numbers.
Brandon Watson has quietly grinded and honed his craft at Michigan the past four years. And even while playing a healthy amount of snaps on special teams throughout his career, Watson became a fixture and foundational piece for the vaunted Michigan defense.
After contributing in a variety of ways in his first three years, Watson finally began to get regular playing time on defense in 2017, registering several solid pass break-ups and showing that he was more than comfortable in locking down his assignment. What prompted the trust in Watson’s defense may have been his ability to make a name for himself bringing down ball carriers. And given the amount of time he spent on special teams, it hardly comes as a surprise that he was willing to lower his shoulder pads every once in a while. When those experiences all culminated in his final year, Watson became an integral part of the Wolverines.
From the first game, Watson made sure that the nation was on notice of his skills. He intercepted his first pass against Notre Dame that day, returning it 19 yards in a hard-fought match that saw Michigan barely lose. After that lesson, though, Watson and the defense locked down hard, winning their next 10 games.
Although his season-high in tackles was four, Watson was a stalwart whenever the ball came his way, as Pro Football Focus graded him as a 90.0 in run defense, top 10 in the nation through eight games. And when teams did dare throw his way, he made them pay, snagging a pick against Maryland and showing off his speed by taking it 46 yards to the house. Apparently, he loved the end zone so much he decided to find it again, this time coming in Michigan’s rout over Penn State in what was to be a clash of Big Ten titans.
It might have taken a while for Watson to make it to this level, and perhaps many at home don’t recognize his name. But his game has been respected by his peers throughout his career, and if he continues to nail his assignment each and every time, it won’t be long until many more know of his prowess.
– David Chough
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Analyst
Just like how every football game is about how you finish, so too is every player’s career. When Amir Hall was initially recruited out of high school, he could have been discouraged by the lack of initial scholarships. But all he needed was the coaching staff of Bowie State to believe in his abilities. Over the past four years, Hall has repaid their trust by registering one of the most impressive careers by a Bulldog and aims to be the fourth player in the past decade to make the jump from Bowie State to the NFL.
After taking over the starting QB spot midway through his freshman year, Hall has never looked back, developing his game to be as complete a football player as possible. With the physical tools needed to excel at the collegiate level, Hall’s improvement over each aspect of his game was something to see.
Hall led all Division II passers before the playoffs with over 4,000 yards passing and was the only one among that group to break the 4K mark. Consistently, Hall has displayed a knack for understanding coverages, identifying the open receiver pre-snap, and also has a flair for improvising when the defense mixes things up.
Make no mistake, despite his prodigious arm talent and accuracy (completing over 60 percent of his passes nine times this season), Hall can also scramble and take off with the best of them as his long strides allow him to eat up space before defenders can get near him. He rushed for 445 yards and six touchdowns as a senior and was responsible for 38 touchdowns overall.
It should come as no surprise to see Hall’s stock rise in the coming weeks, especially given his body of work. In fact, despite missing two games a year ago, Hall posted 3,519 passing yards, 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions that season, along with eight rushing scores. That and leading the Bulldogs to their first home NCAA Division II playoff match propelled him to being named the 2017 Black College Football Player of the Year.
As the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl approaches, it will be the first time for many to see what HBCU and Division II audiences have long known: that Hall is a supremely talented and hard-working quarterback, determined to finish out his career on a high note. And if he has his way, it won’t be the last time he showcases his skills.
– David Chough
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Analyst
For Immediate Release
January 10, 2019
Contact: Brandon Parker | Communications Manager
Brandon.firstname.lastname@example.org | 202-756-9160
NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL ROSTERS ANNOUNCED
Eighth annual all-star game features the top draft-eligible prospects
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The NFL Players Association announced the full roster for its eighth annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Thursday.
The all-star game will once again feature a collection of the best seniors in college football showcasing their skills at the historic Rose Bowl Stadium. The 112-man roster has been split into two groups: the National team, led by long-time NFL player and coach Mike Tice, and the American team, led by former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
This year’s contest is slated to take place on Saturday, January 19, culminating a week-long experience during which the participants will learn about the business of football. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. PST/5 p.m. EST kickoff and will be televised on FS1.
Here are the full player rosters* for the American and National teams:
AMERICAN TEAM (coached by Chuck Pagano)
|First Name||Last Name||Position||School|
|Calvin||Anderson||OT||University of Texas|
|Vyron ‘Shun’||Brown||WR||University of Arizona|
|Trevon||Brown||WR||East Carolina University|
|Taiwan||Deal||RB||University of Wisconsin|
|Javier||Edwards||DT||University of Colorado|
|Ejodamen ‘E.J.’||Ejiya||LB||North Texas|
|Brian||Fineanganofo||OT||Idaho State University|
|Rafael||Gaglianone||K||University of Wisconsin|
|Jamell||Garcia-Williams||DE||University of Alabama-Birmingham|
|Deion||Harris||CB||University of North Dakota|
|Vitas||Hrynkiewicz||OC||Youngstown State University|
|Olabisi||Johnson||WR||Colorado State University|
|Jon’Vea||Johnson||WR||University of Toledo|
|Lawrence||Marshall||DT||University of Michigan|
|Travon||McMillian||RB||University of Colorado|
|Jason||Moore||WR||University of Findlay|
|Mike||Onuoha||DE||Texas A&M Commerce|
|Brian||Peavy||CB||Iowa State University|
|Justice||Powers||OT||University of Alabama-Birmingham|
|Malik||Reed||LB||University of Nevada|
|John||Santiago||RB||University of North Dakota|
|Sterling||Sheffield||MB||University of Maine|
|Sean||Smith||P||University of Dayton|
|Silas||Stewart||LB||University of the Incarnate Word|
|Nathan||Trewyn||OC||University of Wisconsin Whitewater|
|Shyheim||Tuttle||DT||University of Tennessee|
|Patrick||Vahe||OG||University of Texas|
|Brandon||Watson||CB||University of Michigan|
|Juwann||Winfree||WR||University of Colorado|
|Willie||Wright||OG||University of Tulsa|
|Dedrick||Young||MB||University of Nebraska|
NATIONAL TEAM (coached by Mike Tice)
|First Name||Last Name||Position||School|
|George||Aston||FB||University of Pittsburgh|
|Maurice||Bibaku Simba||OT||Concordia University|
|Kyron||Brown||CB||University of Akron|
|Jake||Browning||QB||University of Washington|
|Jalin||Burrell||CB||University of New Mexico|
|Emmanuel||Butler||WR||Northern Arizona University|
|Daniel||Cooney||OT||University of San Diego|
|Austin||Cutting||LS||Air Force Academy|
|Kahzin||Daniels||DE/LB||University of Charleston|
|Marche||Dennard||RB||Colorado State University-Pueblo|
|Matthew||Eaton||WR||Iowa State University|
|Nicholas ‘Nico’||Evans||RB||University of Wyoming|
|Demetrius||Flannigan-Fowles||S||University of Arizona|
|Hjalte||Froholdt||OG||University of Arkansas|
|Tyler||Gauthier||OC||University of Miami|
|Kyle||Gibson||DS||University of Central Florida|
|Montre||Gregory||CB||Bowling Green State University|
|Amir||Hall||QB||Bowie State University|
|Darius||Harris||LB||Middle Tennessee State|
|AJ||Hotchkins||MB||University of Texas at El Paso|
|Damion||Jeanpiere||WR||Nicholls State University|
|Devon||Johnson||OT||Ferris State University|
|Jordan||Kunaszyk||MB||University of California Berkeley|
|Josh||Lewis||CB||Eastern Washington University|
|Isaiah||Mack||DT||University of Tennessee-Chattanooga|
|Tyler||Newsome||P||University of Notre Dame|
|Iosua||Opeta||OG||Weber State University|
|Thomas ‘Peyton’||Pelluer||MB||Washington State University|
|Randy||Ramsey||DE||University of Arkansas|
|Steven||Sims||WR||University of Kansas|
|Brent||Stockstill||QB||Middle Tennessee State|
|Trevon||Tate||OT||University of Memphis|
|Jay-Tee||Tiuli||DT||Eastern Washington University|
|Marquez||Tucker||OG||Southern Utah University|
|Immanuel||Turner||DE||Louisiana Tech University|
|Quincy||Williams||LB||Murray State University|
|Justin||Yoon||K||University of Notre Dame|
|Jalen||Young||DS||Florida Atlantic University|
*Note: Rosters are subject to change
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. For the latest news and updates on the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, visit the game’s website at http://collegiate.nflpa.com/ and follow @NFLPABowl on Twitter.
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.
The NFL Players Association is pleased to announce FOX Sports and WHOOP as two of its official partners for the 2019 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Building off the successful broadcasts of the past two years, FS1 will once again air the star-studded NFLPA Collegiate Bowl to its growing audience of viewers. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. PST/5 p.m. EST on January 19, 2019 at the historic Rose Bowl Stadium in California.
This year’s broadcast team features a number of notable voices and faces. Dan Hellie will serve as the play-by-play announcer and joining him in the booth will be analysts Joel Klatt and Charles Davis. On the sidelines, Petros Papadakis and Bucky Brooks will deliver news and insight from the American and National teams.
“FOX Sports is synonymous with football, which is why we are excited to continue this partnership,” said Teri Smith, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl director and deputy managing director of the NFLPA. “By playing on one of television’s biggest stages, we are once again able to provide NFL prospects with the best support.”
As part of a week-long experience that introduces the top draft-eligible college players to their future union and the business of football, each participant will receive a WHOOP strap. The wearable device collects 100 data points per second and then utilizes that data to further understand how the workouts, diet, sleep routine and lifestyle they are living truly affects their bodies.
WHOOP, which also provides active NFL players with wearable devices at no cost, is committed to helping the next generation of pro football athletes optimize their performance and overall well-being.
BY DAVID CHOUGH
Grant Kraemer, QB, Drake
While the game between Iowa State and Drake wasn’t a game played for a conference championship or bowl eligibility, it had something perhaps even greater at stake: pride. Iowa State wanted to play 12 games this season, and with the previous two commitments falling through, the Cyclones and Drake were able to reach an agreement to play this game just a few weeks prior. The Bulldogs were already eliminated from playoff contention, but they still had intentions of pulling of the upset — and that all started with their quarterback, Grant Kraemer.
Although Drake’s first drive started on its own 7-yard line, Kraemer wasted no time in capitalizing as he rifled a touchdown pass that put the underdogs up, 7-0. Even after the Cyclones managed to wrest away momentum with a pair of touchdowns and an interception, Kraemer looked unphased. No matter what the defense or the inclement weather, threw at the quarterback, he calmly continued to lead the offense. A methodical, 10-play, 83-yard drive eventually finished with a touchdown pass from Kramer with defenders in his face.
After halftime, Drake’s defense forced a fumble, leading to a field goal that cut Iowa State’s lead to 3. Another forced turnover put Drake in position to take the lead and Kraemer seized the opportunity. He found a wide receiver for 23 yards on third down to keep the drive alive, and in the red zone, Kraemer sat in the pocket and let the play develop. Maybe it was trust in his receiver, maybe it was sheer confidence that allowed him to sling a pass into the heart of the secondary for a touchdown. Suddenly, the Bulldogs were up 24-20 in what would be the most unlikely of upsets in recent memory.
Though the offense would not be able to score after that and the Cyclones ultimately pulled away, Grant Kraemer’s performance, completing 20 of his 29 attempts for 221 yards and three touchdowns in awful field conditions, was a worthy one to end his collegiate career. Drake might have entered into the Iowa State stadium as the home team’s third-choice, but Kraemer and the Bulldogs left as valiant opponents.
Reggie Gallaspy II, RB, North Carolina State
One week after carrying the ball a season-high 27 times for 129 yards against in-state rival UNC, Reggie Gallaspy II once again made the most of his many opportunities. This time, he carried it 24 times against East Carolina for a season-high 220 yards and two touchdowns, bringing his total to over 1,000 yards on the season, the first time he has ever hit that mark in his career.
Bobby Okereke, ILB, Stanford
In his final rivalry matchup against California, Bobby Okereke put his stamp on things with 13 total stops, including 7 solo tackles, 0.5 sack and a forced fumble. As a result, the Golden Bears were never able to get into a rhythm, and Stanford cruised to a 23-13 victory.
Wesley Bush, DB, Middle Tennessee
Familiarity breeds contempt, and after two straight weeks of playing against Middle Tennessee, it wouldn’t be a surprise if UAB was sick of seeing Wesley Bush. The senior defensive back has terrorized the Dragons for two weeks straight, the latest effort yielding 10 tackles and a pick for the second game in a row. Though UAB came out victorious, Bush proved he has the range and hitting ability to compete at the next level.
FULL COACHING STAFF ANNOUNCED FOR 2019 NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL
Highlighted by Pro Football Hall of Famers and NFL legends, the complete staffs for 2019 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl head coaches Chuck Pagano and Mike Tice were finalized Tuesday.
Featured as the American Team’s defensive coordinator is former All-Pro defensive back Ed Reed, who had great success playing under Pagano at the University of Miami and with the Baltimore Ravens. Leading the American Team offense will be Ted Tollner, who served as an NFL assistant for 15 seasons and worked with NFL quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft.
Former NFL star wideout Andre Johnson, who also played under Pagano in college and the NFL, will coach the wide receivers with Super Bowl champion Plaxico Burress. And Hall of Famer Jackie Slater returns to lead the offensive line for the American team.
The National Team staff, led by Tice, includes former Pro Bowl QB Gus Frerotte as the offensive coordinator and former All-Pro linebacker Bryan Cox as the defensive coordinator. Darrell Green, who has previously served as a head and assistant coach at the Collegiate Bowl, will pour his Hall of Fame wisdom into the role of defensive backs coach for the National Team.
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.
For the latest news and updates on the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, stay tuned to our website and follow @NFLPABowl on Twitter.
Here are the full coaching staffs for the American and National teams:
Head Coach: Mike Tice
Specialist/Assistant: Tim Holt
Offensive Coordinator: Gus Frerotte
Defensive Coordinator: Bryan Cox
Quarterbacks Coach: Akili Smith
Running Backs Coach: Clinton Portis
Wide Receivers Coach: Matthew Hatchette
Wide Receivers Coach: Nate Washington
Tight Ends Coach: Alge Crumpler
Offensive Line Coach: Chris Naeole
Offensive Line Coach: Jonathan Scott
Defensive Line Coach: Bertrand Berry
Linebackers Coach: Chris Claiborne
Defensive Backs Coach: Darrell Green
Defensive Backs Coach: Cory Hall
Special Teams Coach: Josh Cribbs
Offensive Coaching Intern: Moe Williams
Defensive Coaching Intern: Dante Marsh
Head Coach: Chuck Pagano
Offensive Coordinator: Ted Tollner
Defensive Coordinator: Ed Reed
Quarterbacks Coach: Jeff Blake
Running Backs Coach: Brandon Jackson
Wide Receivers Coach: Andre Johnson
Wide Receivers Coach: Plaxico Burress
Tight Ends Coach: John Allred
Offensive Line Coach: Jackie Slater
Defensive Line Coach: Aaron Curry
Defensive Line Coach: Aubrayo Franklin
Linebackers Coach: D’Qwell Jackson
Defensive Backs Coach: Kevin Ross
Defensive Backs Coach: Ricky Manning Jr.
Special Teams Coach: Russ Purnell
Offensive Coaching Intern: Jaimie Thomas
Defensive Coaching Intern: Darryl Tapp
BY DAVID CHOUGH
Kyle Shurmur, QB, Vanderbilt
With Rivalry Week upon us, the Vanderbilt seniors hoped to snag a three-peat over their in-state rivals at Tennessee. At the helm was Kyle Shurmur, playing in his fourth iteration of this matchup, and after the previous two had gone so well, the senior quarterback was surely looking to put the cherry on top, knowing that only the winner of the matchup would go on to be bowl eligible.
After going three and out on the first drive, Shurmur wanted to make sure that the Commodores quickly established control of the game the next time they came out. He completed his next 14 pass attempts, including all of his throws on the next drive that spanned 84 yards. It didn’t matter what looks the defense gave him — Shurmur still calmly threw it to the open man underneath and kept the chains moving. By the time he threw a beautiful pass up the right sideline to his receiver, the Commodore offense had possessed the ball for nearly half the first quarter and converted two third downs. The next drive was much the same, with Shurmur controlling the tempo of the offense with quick strikes to his receivers, keeping the clock running, and engineering yet another touchdown drive.
But after a scoreless third quarter, it looked like the Volunteers might have the chance to come back into this game. Shurmur made sure to quickly put those doubts to rest, as he threw a gorgeous pair of passes to start the final period. The first completion was a teardrop on the left sideline, even as the receiver was being interfered with. Next, Shurmur attacked the right sideline and rainbowed a pass right into his teammate’s arms for a 26-yard score.
Two drives later, Shurmur came out firing on all cylinders, including a quarterback sneak on fourth down to move the chains. He then capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown to push the score to 38-13, firmly solidifying Vanderbilt’s chances of a second bowl bid in the past three seasons.
Shurmur finished the day a brilliant 31 of 35 for 367 yards to go with three touchdowns. And while fans of the Commodores were most certainly happy to see their senior signal caller do so well, the Volunteers might be as equally happy knowing that they will no longer have to worry about Shurmur as he makes his move to the next level.
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
The game didn’t live up to the competitive stakes that everyone wishes for, and Parris Campbell was part of the reason why. The Michigan Wolverines simply could not cover him, as the senior wideout had six catches for 192 yards and two scores, including a 78 -yard dash to the end zone.
Alonzo Smith, RB, Miami (OH)
It was the senior tailback’s final home game, and Alonzo Smith made sure it was a memorable one. After cracking the century mark just once this season, Smith ran for 207 yards on just 18 carries, and recorded three touchdowns. The first score was the most important, as it came on fourth and one with Ball State leading 21-7 late in the second. The team went for it, and Smith repaid its faith in him by taking it 56 yards to the house. His combination of size and speed wore down the Cardinals, and the Redhawks would eventually win, 42-21.
Otaro Alaka, LB, Texas A&M
It might seem counterintuitive to spotlight a defensive player from a team that just gave up 72 points in victory, but that just makes it all the more impressive for what Otaro Alaka accomplished. In the thriller between LSU and Texas A&M that saw a record-tying seven overtimes, Alaka never once stopped running, and his constant motor paid off in the first overtime period. His sack on the LSU quarterback forced a long field goal, and even though it was converted, it gave his offense a peace of mind, knowing they could kick a field goal in kind to extend the game. In all, Alaka was a menace, notching 11 tackles, including two sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss in a game that will be remembered for years to come.
With 36 years of NFL experience as a player and coach, Mike Tice knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed at the pro level. After playing 14 seasons at tight end, Tice entered the coaching ranks, where he served as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and as an offensive coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders before retiring from the NFL in 2017. In January, he will return to the sidelines to lead the National Team at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. We caught up with Tice to talk about his expectations for the game and wisdom he has to offer the next generation of players.
What do you hope to bring to the game?
First, we want to be sharp and crisp because we owe it to the kids to be on our game. The staff are not full-time coaches; they are a mixture of former coaches and players that want to give it a whirl. We want to make the week leading up to the game and gameday worth it for everyone.
What advice can you offer guys trying to get to the next level?
I think that the biggest thing I would offer to them is to understand what your assignments are and don’t make mistakes. You are given the athletic ability you have and the chance to shine and succeed, so do not question that. Form good study habits and take good notes. Understand what the coaches ask you to do. That is first and foremost. The second thing is work hard in practice and if you do that and put out and finish plays, the games will be a lot easier for you. The main thing is that you want to have fun. There will be some former players who come in to coach and provide you with their expertise. Learn from them!
What advice would you give to the current upcoming generation of players that you have learned from coaching at the pro level?
Listen. Be a good listener. It’s not that hard. The game is about blocking, catching, tackling and running with the football. Coaches who have done it for a really long time, they have seen it done right and seen it done correctly. Listen to what the coaches have to say and don’t respond when maybe you don’t agree with what he is trying to tell you.
We are currently seeing some QBs being moved around into other positions in the NFL. Since you were a QB in college and transitioned to a tight end, what advice would you give to a player who is asked to play a different position in the pros than they did in college?
I think the biggest thing is if I’m a great athlete and I’m coming out of college and I want to play in NFL and have guys who have been around and see you at a different position, give it chance.
It is extremely tough early on and having never been in a three-point stance, I found that catching the ball was harder than throwing. I had to learn from scratch, but I listened to my coaches and tried to do it the way they told me to.
What do you recommend that the athletes know going into the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl to prepare them for the week?
Relax and enjoy the moment. Remember that you are blessed to be picked to be playing in an all-star game. Feel proud about it and enjoy the moment. Just take everything in and try to be a guy that stands out. Don’t make mental mistakes. Show the guys that you can learn.