Players To Watch In The Birmingham Bowl
Bowl games have begun which only means one thing: college football season is coming to an end. The South Florida Bulls find themselves making their eight bowl appearance in the Birmingham Bowl against South Carolina. For many players this will be the last game in their collegiate career. Here are a few players to watch in this years Birmingham Bowl.
- Marlon Mack, RB. To say the junior running back out of Sarasota has had a stellar year would be an understatement. The American Athlete Conference three-time first team selection became the USF all-time career rushing leader with 3,559 career yards. He also became the first player in USF history and only the third player FBS player in the state of Florida to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. His accomplishments go on and on, but what makes this game special is that it could very well be his last collegiate game should he declare for the NFL draft. Think about it with Willie Taggart gone will Mack stay for his senior season? It won’t get addressed until after this game, but it’s something to start thinking about. Mack Attack will surely make this bowl game a great one, and up against a big South Carolina defense watch for Mack to make some explosive runs.
- Quinton Flowers, QB. The American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year has led the Bulls to a program record 10 win season. Flowers became USF’s first ever 2,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher and the first player in the state of Florida collegiate history to do so. He was the second leading QB rusher in the FBS, behind on Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Finishing the regular season holding the USF season total offense record with 3,971 yards, the junior out of Miami is sure to make this bowl game exciting. Being a dual-threat QB is going to come in hand against a defense that is known for take aways.
- Rodney Adams, WR. The senior out of St. Petersburg will suit up in his last collegiate game. Picked to the American Athletic Conference second-team, the wide receiver will look to break the USF career catches record. With 60 on the year, a personal best, Adams is three catches away from breaking the record held by Hugh Smith (62, 2002). He is also one receiving TD away from tying the school record of 17.
- Jake Bentley, QB. The true freshman out of Alabama will start after nursing a bone bruise. Since becoming the starting quarterback, Bentley has led the Gamecocks to a 4-2 record. The USC offense has also been averaging 183.7 rushing yards in that span opposed to averaging 92.3 in their first six games without Bentley starting. Watch what this true freshman can do in his first bowl appearance start.
- Rico Dowdle, RB. Another true freshman the young running back has taken majority of the carries late in the season after missing the first four games with a sports hernia. He recorded a record day in November against West Carolina with 226 rushing yards.
- Deebo Samuel, WR. After suffering a hamstring injury, Samuel got healthy after the first five games to haul in 41 passes for 527 yards in the last seven games. He’s had at least eight catches three times and two 100-yard receiving games. With a healthy Bentley, Samuel will be a prime target and is definitely one to watch.
- Nigel Harris, Linebacker. The senior out of Tampa will be a key player on the Bulls defense in this game. He led the Bulls in tackles with 11 against UCF in the final game of the regular season, which included seven solo tackles. Harris will be helpful in quarterback hurries to rattle a true freshman quarterback starting for USC.
- Auggie Sanchez, Linebacker. The captain of the Bull Shark Defense has gotten teammates fired up. Speed will be a factor in this game and Sanchez has just that. He led the Bulls with 14 tackles against SMU in their second to last game of the regular season. He was also a big part of the Bulls victory over then ranked Navy this year.
- Nate Godwin, Defensive Back. The senior out of Tampa will suit up for his last appearance as a USF Bull. Being a big part of the defense’s efforts this year, Godwin will look to make this bowl game extra special. He led the team in tackles in numerous games this season and tied for second on the team with 46 solo tackles.
- Darius English, DL. The redshirt senior leads the Gamecocks with nine sacks. He is tied for third in the SEC in sacks and has moved into the school’s top-10 list in both single-season and career sacks. He will be a key part of the Gamecocks defense in stopping the Gulf Coast Offense.