Marvin Lewis returned to the sideline as the head coach who led the National team to a 30-20 victory in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, over an American squad coached by former Cleveland Head Coach Hue Jackson this past weekend.
“Do everything you can to stay there,” Lewis said as advice to the future players.
After the game Lewis also talked about how he enjoyed giving back to the players and coaches after the game and week’s practices.
Hue Jackson also talked about how he was happy to be back on the sidelines.
The Rose Bowl’s annual collegiate All-Star game featured one of its deepest talent pools in recent years. Each coaching staff is usually stacked with NFL alumni who will serve as resources for these players on their way through the draft process.
Chattanooga QB Nick Tiano won the MVP scoring a touchdown pass on a 48-yard throw to Arkansas St. receiver Kirk Merritt for the Nationals in the second quarter.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us small school players,” Tiano said after completing 8 passes for 135 yards in Saturday’s All-Star game.
Tiano plans to head back to Colorado to continue preparation for his Pro Day in March.
Attention will turn to Mobile for the Senior Bowl but expect some of these players in the later rounds of the NFL Draft or the early stages of priority free agency directly after.
Defensive end Christian Rector out of USC had a fumble recover and tackle in Saturday’s All-Star game. He projects as a late round or undreafted player after 13 sacks in three seasons playing across USC’s front seven.
Reid Sinnett, QB out of San Diego, showed his shifty running ability and completed nine of 16 passes for 93 yards with the National team. He threw 3,538 yards for 32 touchdowns and stands at six-feet-four.
Jason Huntley led the team in rushing with seven carries for 53 yards out of New Mexico. Huntley finished with 1292 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage last year.
Oregon State running back Aravis Pierce scored a touchdown for the National team too. Pierce finished with 873 rushing yards and six touchdowns last year.
Oregon tackle Brady Aiello, College of Idaho Tack Josh Brown, Washington WR Aaron Fuller, Tennessee DB Nigel Warrior, Tennessee WR Marquez Callaway, Albany WR Juwan Green and Central Michigan RB Johnathan Ward were among participating players to watch.
Here are some names you should look out for after standout performances in Pasadena.
UCLA linebacker Krystopher Barnes finished with 7 total tackles and a sack for the National team. Barnes played various linebacker spots all week and he showed he can fly around the ball on Saturday.
Barnes is six-foot-one, 235 pounds. He finished last year with 73 total tackles, 9.5 TFL and 4 sacks as a senior. Walter football projects him as a third or fourth round pick in the upcoming draft.
Lewis credited Barnes for his ability to move and understanding of football over the week.
The former Long Beach Poly standout showed his footwork in the game Saturday and throughout the week. Williams made a couple of plays versus some solid receiving talent.
He only had two interceptions in three seasons at ASU but finished with 142 tackles in 36 games. Williams will need to test well to move into the later rounds. However, he could be a good special teams prospect as a priority free agent and developmental prospect.
Bayless caught a touchdown pass in the first quarter showing his one-on-one abilities. The receiver caught everyone’s attention doing the same all week.
The Arkansas St. product put up gaudy numbers with 84 receptions for 1,473 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. After the game, Bayless said he felt he answered questions about his speed all week. He wisely became less of a sleeper prospect after this week’s practices and games.
JJ Koski only made one 20-yard catch but that was all he needed to flash his shiftiness and RAC abilities in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Koski got reps across the formation all week he said.
The Cal Ploy receiver is the first player in years to appear in this bowl after finishing with 862 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns last year.
Koski is listed at six-one and 195 pounds. Testing well might really help him catch the attention of some scouts.
The FSU corner and safety made it known he is a natural corner. Taylor was the No. 1 player at that position out of High School. He went through several coaching and defensive changes that led him to playing safety last year.
Taylor could still develop into a steal in the later rounds. He showed his athleticism, footwork and swagger throughout the day.
American team linebacker Cole Christiansen out of Army finished with five tackles and 16-yard fumble recovery. Christiansen is making a lot headlines because he is allowed to pursue professional sports after a service academy.
However, Christiansen said after the game he wants people to know that he is rangy and can play multiple linebacker positions. Christiansen had 112 tackles and 2.5 sacks last year.
At six-feet-two and 225 pounds Christiansen can play his way up draft boards with nice tests. He also gained some momentum this week.
More from the Rose Bowl
Other prospects like Weber St. end Jonah Williams disrupted the game all day. UL-Lafayette running back Raymond Calais also took a return to the house for a touchdown. His speed and agility caught attention all week as he also led the American team in rushing.
Temple LB Shaun Bradley also showed his instincts and physicality throughout the game and the rest of the week’s American Team practices. National safety Jaylinn Hawkins also registered a couple of tackles showcasing his size and range.
Ideally, all these players tried to make themselves some money and keep their NFL dreams alive. It should be interesting to see if they can continue the momentum headed into the NFL Combine and their college’s Pro Days in March.
Kenneth Berry contributed to this report. He and Kenny cohost a weekly podcast called TouchdownsandTangents.com which was also credentialed at the Rose Bowl this weekend.
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