American vs. National
Saturday, January 19, 6 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
GAME NOTES: In the second annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl a pair of former NLF head coaches will lead a slew of top performers at the college level when Herman Edwards takes the helm for the American side against Dick Vermeil's National squad at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
This is Vermeil's second straight season coaching in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Last season the former head coach came out of retirement to lead the National team to a 20-14 victory.
Highlighting the roster for the National side is Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel. In a year marred by some controversy and a fair share of losses, Tuel started in seven games for the Cougars and completed a team-high 63.7 percent of his pass attempts. He threw for 300 yards three times this past season while posting g11 multi-TD games in his four-year career. Tuel struggled with turnovers at times this season as he had as many interceptions as touchdowns with eight of each.Dayne Crist of Kansas and Ryan Higgins of Fordham will also be in the mix at quarterback.
Some other names to watch on the offensive side of the ball for the National side are wide receivers Sam McGuffie (Rice) and Myles White (Louisiana Tech) along with running backs Mike James (Miami-Florida).
McGuffie hauled in 54 passes for 603 yards and a team-high five touchdowns for Rice and became the first Owl in school history to total 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air in a career. White was a key cog in Louisiana Tech's prolific passing offense that ranked third in the nation in passing yards. White was second on the team in both receptions (56), yards (718) and touchdowns (6). Xavier Boyce, out of Norfolk State, is another receiver that could make an impact on his draft stock in this contest after playing at the FCS level during the season.
James was the top option out of the backfield for Al Golden's Hurricanes as he rushed for 621 yards and six touchdowns on a team-high 147 attempts. Although he was out-shined by youngster Duke Johnson in terms of production, James was still a valuable asset for the Hurricanes.
On the defensive side of the ball the National team will feature draft- hopefuls like defensive tackle Deon Goggins (Syracuse), linebacker Bruce Taylor (Virginia Tech), cornerback Demetrius McCray (Appalachian State) and safeties Vaughn Telemaque (Miami-Florida) and Drew Frey (Cincinnati).
After missing all of last season after transferring, Goggins recorded 8.5 tackles for loss for the Orange this season which ranked fifth on the team. Taylor was third on the Hokies in total tackles (76) with 10.5 coming for loss and 5.5 sacks. Telemaque was a 2012 All-ACC Honorable Mention selection while Frey collected eight career interceptions in the secondary for the Bearcats.
Edwards, who is best known for his tenure as head coach for the New York Jets as well as his nine-year playing career in the NFL, will step out of the broadcast booth to patrol the sidelines for the American team.
The American squad will likely be run on offense to start by Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers. The younger brother of Green Bay Packer great Aaron, Rodgers led the Commodores to a 7-4 record and threw for a career-high 2,539 yards and 15 touchdowns in his second season as the starter. Rodgers also had only five interceptions this past season down from 10 in the previous year. His 59.5 completion percentage was the best by a Vanderbilt quarterback since current Chicago Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler's junior season. Brad Sorensen (Southern Utah) and Greg Jenkins (Alabama State) will also get a chance to showcase their skills under center.
There are a number of talented receivers on the American side highlighted by Jamal-Rahsad Patterson (Stanford), Drew Terrell (Stanford), Marquise Goodwin (Texas) and Quincy McDuffie (UCF).
Although Stanford was more reliant on its rushing attack, both Terrell and Patterson were productive in limited roles for the Cardinal. Terrell was second on the team in yards (463) and touchdowns (4) while ranking third in receptions. Patterson (16 rec. 271 yards) led the team in yards-per-reception. Goodwin was the third-option in the passing game for the Longhorns as he brought in 25 passes for 299 yard and three scores. McDuffie (28 rec, 350 yards, 3 TDs) is another player who doesn't have impressive numbers but could benefit from a final showcase of his abilities.
For the American team the players to keep an eye on are defensive end Brian Slay (NC State), linebackers Herman Lathers (Tennessee), Jake Johnson (South Alabama) and safety Kemal Ishmael (UCF).
Slay was part of the rotation on the defensive line for NC State and produced 16 tackles, six of which were for a loss including a pair of sacks. Lathers was on of three players to record at least 60 tackles for the Volunteers with 66 takedowns, 5.0 went for loss including a pair of sacks. Johnson didn't get a ton of buzz out of the Sun Belt Conference but finished in the top 15 in tackles with 131 stops, including 15 for loss which was the third-most in the Sun Belt. Ishmael (124 tackles, 3 INT) led the Knights in tackles and ranked seventh in Conference USA in the category.
Both of these teams will start a quarterback that proved they can succeed against some top-level competition this season. The National squad has a bit more balance on offense with a strong group of backs, which could prove pivotal for Vermeil's unit.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: National 24, American 21
01/16 11:02:51 ET