COLLEGIATE BOWL GAME DAY: PLAYERS TO WATCH

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AP Photo/Michael Noble Jr.

With game day here, which players are poised to take full advantage of the game to showcase their skills? Here are five names from each of the teams with hopes of building upon their already impressive college careers.


 

National

Anthony Wales, RB, Western Kentucky

One of the most explosive running backs in the country, Wales absolutely tore it up for the Hilltoppers this year. He rushed for 1,621 yards (with five games of over 150), and came within striking distance of the single-season record for touchdowns, finishing with 27 rushing and two receiving.

Michael Rector, WR, Stanford

Rector was a steady, reliable receiver for the Cardinals. After a promising junior campaign in which he registered over 550 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns, this year, Rector had four games of four receptions or more, and a strong showing against Kansas State with four catches for 73 yards and a score. He also showed his elusive running ability for the first time, taking a handoff 57 yards to the house against USC.

Darrell Daniels, TE, Washington

The tight end from the Pac-12 champions was a seldom-used weapon in the passing game, but held his own as a run blocker. Still, when his number was called, he delivered, often in key moments, like his touchdown reception in the Pac-12 conference championship that all but sealed the win.

Zach Pascal, WR, Old Dominion

This senior wideout put some serious pressure on opposing defenses with his great hands and route running skills. He was extraordinarily consistent (at least 65 catches, 900 yards receiving and eight touchdowns in his final two years), and put on an absolute show against Florida Atlantic when he had nine receptions for 178 yards and a score.

Pita Taumoepenu, DE, Utah

By the time you finish trying to pronounce his name, Taumoepenu is already in the backfield. Case in point, he had nine sacks for the Utes, along with three forced fumbles and 12 tackles for a loss. His best game was against Arizona State, when he racked up a hat trick of sacks.

 

American

Phillip Nelson, QB, East Carolina

The transfer from Minnesota put up some gaudy numbers in his time with the East Carolina Pirates. He started off with a bang, throwing for 398 yards and five touchdowns in his first game, followed by a 400-yard outing against South Carolina. Not one to slow down, he’d follow that up with a 362-yard, two-touchdown day against Virginia Tech, and his ability to really air it out gave the Pirates life in many a game.

TJ Logan, RB, North Carolina

Logan always made the most of the chances he got, and did whatever he could to get more of them. He was a valuable asset to the Tar Heels as both a runner and a receiver, using his shifty running style to make defenders miss (like when he had six carries for 80 yards and a score against Georgia). But also showed he could carry the load on offense in his 14-carry, 67-yard day against Virginia Tech, when he also caught the ball six times for 30 yards. Overall, he put up almost 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in his final year.

Keon Hatcher, WR, Arkansas

After missing time in his junior year, Hatcher came back in a big way this past year. He put up career highs in receptions (44), receiving yards (743), and touchdowns (8), saving his best for last by logging 100-yard games in each of the final two games of the season.

Jay Guillermo, C, Clemson

Guillermo was the anchor for the Tigers two years in a row, and it’s no coincidence that they went to the national title game twice while he was on the line. As the pivot for the offense, he did a phenomenal job of calling out protection schemes and putting his head down to lay key blocks in the run game.

Chris Fraser, P, Cornell

Punters are players, too, especially those as decorated as Fraser. He leaves Cornell as one of the most decorated special teams players in Ivy League history, becoming the first Big Red player to be a four-time, first-team All-Ivy selection while leading the conference in punting average and net punting. His booming kicks were a regularity for the Big Red, and his ability to pin opposing teams way back allowed Cornell to routinely win the battle for field position.

 

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

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