With the NFL wrapping up their playoffs in the new few weeks, which means that it is time for postseason all-star games. The lesser known games are done, leaving the Senior Bowl on the slate. This version, scheduled for January 28 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, wraps up a week of practices between many of the nation’s top senior players.
An invite to the Senior Bowl is one of the biggest accomplishments that a Forgotten 5 player can get. It means that the next level has singled them out as probable drafts picks and wants to see them up close. Of course, players like Corey Davis that are going in the top 15 in the upcoming draft will decline the invite to prepare on their own.
In addition, the players get one on one coaching from NFL staffs that are working the weeklong event. It is generally a win/win scenario for everyone involved. The only real negative in the entire process is that the game is still held at the home field of South Alabama. A better stadium would make the experience more enjoyable.
The American Athletic Conference led all group of five conferences with seven accepted invitations. Six programs were recognized with Temple landing a conference-high two players on the list. The most noteworthy portion of the AAC list is the fact that Haason Reddick is listed as an inside linebacker on the roster. Reddick switched between a hand down defensive lineman and a part-time outside linebacker for the Owls. A move to inside linebacker could be a way to use his quickness and agility that would be negated be his lack of bulk in the trenches.
- Tyus Bowser, Houston, Outside Linebacker
- Dion Dawkins, Temple, Guard
- Jake Elliott, Memphis, Kicker
- Zay Jones, East Carolina, Wide Receiver
- Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut, Safety
- Haason Reddick, Temple, Inside Linebacker
- Tanzel Smart, Tulane, Defensive Tackle
As with anything Conference USA related, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers landed a conference-high two of the five players headed to the Senior Bowl. While Forrest Lamp projects as a second round pick at this point, the most interesting player on the list is Larry Ogunjobi from Charlotte. He played for a 49ers team that is still attempting to put together a FBS roster. He is an excellent student and will likely be a huge success story whether football works out or not.
- Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky, Guard
- Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte, Defensive Tackle
- Jonnu Smith, Florida International, Tight End
- Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech, Wide Receiver
- Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky, Wide Receiver
The first thing anyone notices is the lack of Corey Davis on the MAC list. He is already going to be a first round pick and there is nothing that he can gain by playing in the senior bowl. Teammate Taylor Moton will be there in all of his 328 pound glory. After going against Tarell Basham of Ohio for four years, Moton will finally be on the same team as the defensive end.
- Tarell Basham, Ohio, Defensive End
- Kareem Hunt, Toledo, Running Back
- Taylor Moton, Western Michigan, Offensive Tackle
- Mike Roberts, Toledo, Tight End
The Aztecs of San Diego State lead all group of five teams with three invitations accepted. Star cornerback Damontae Kazee, NCAA all-time leading rusher Donnell Pumphrey, and All-American guard Nico Siragusa are guaranteed draft picks, but a good performance here could really open some eyes at the next level.
- Damontae Kazee, San Diego State, Cornerback
- Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State, Running Back
- Jalen Robinette, Air Force, Wide Receiver
- Nico Siragusa, San Diego State, Guard
While the Sun Belt is almost always overlooked, it is players from both Alabama programs that will represent the conference. Tight end Gerald Everett started his career at UAB, but ended it at South Alabama with a chance to make his name known among NFL scouts this week.
- Gerald Everett, South Alabama, Tight End
- Antonio Garcia, Troy, Offensive Tackle
As always, the FCS is fully represented with nine players headed to the all-star game. Title game participant Derek Rivers broke through in 2016 with 15.0 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss for a Cinderella Youngstown State squad. The other item of note is the inclusion of three separate players from the state of Tennessee. UTC’s Keionta Davis and TSU’s Jessamen Dunker and Ezra Robinson are all headed to Mobile.
- Julien Davenport, Bucknell, Offensive Tackle
- Keionta Davis, UT-Chattanooga, Defensive End
- Jessamen Dunker, Tennessee State, Guard
- Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis (PA), Safety
- Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova, Defensive End
- Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington, Wide Receiver
- Brendan Langley, Lamar, Cornerback
- Derek Rivers, Youngstown State, Outside Linebacker
- Ezra Robinson, Tennessee State, Cornerback
One of the most interesting aspects of Division II football is the sheer number of NFL ready players that are waiting for their opportunity to make an impact. It isn’t at the level of the FCS or FBS, but there are many diamonds in the rough. An interesting player to watch this week is Tiffin quarterback Antonio Pipkin. He is 6-3, 225 pounds, has passed for over 10,000 yards and 88 touchdowns, rushed for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns, and could be the second Tiffin player to spend real time in the NFL after Nate Washington.
- Connor Harris, Lindenwood, Inside Linebacker
- Jordan Herdman, Simon Fraser, Inside Linebacker
- Jordan Morgan, Kutztown, Guard
- Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin, Quarterback
Sadly, no Division III or NAIA players were invited to this year’s Senior Bowl.