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Early Bowls Boast College Football Prospects to Watch

Louisiana Lafayette v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Bowl season is one of the best times of the year for college football fans. Seeing cross conference matchups between unlikely opponents can always be enjoyable. The early bowls usually lack the star power and brand recognition of the later ones, but this weekend kicks off with some interesting teams (including one ranked squad). With these intriguing matches, there are some prospects well worth watching for the draft-minded football fan.

Cure Bowl: 1:30 PM on CBSSN

  • Donnie Lewis Jr, Cornerback, Tulane: Tulane’s star defender has picked off six passes in the last two years and accounted for 28 PBUs in that same time frame. He is a long-limbed, physical cornerback who has ball skills to boot. Lewis will have a tough matchup against ULL’s top prospect…
  • Ja’Marcus Bradley, Wide Receiver, ULL: Likely facing Lewis Jr. will be Louisiana-Lafayette’s playmaking receiver. The 6’1” Bradley has been a touchdown machine this year and will have a great opportunity saturday against a formidable opponent.

New Mexico Bowl: 2:00 PM on ESPN

  • E.J. Ejiya, EDGE, North Texas: With 23 tackles for a loss, few players have been more disruptive this year than E.J. Ejiya has been for the Mean Green. Ejiya plays on the line for North Texas and is a productive pass rusher and run stopper, but the undersized player might fit better off the ball in the NFL with his quickness and recognition ability. However, Ejiya will be fundamental in North Texas’ effort against Utah State and their productive offense.
  • Darwin Thompson, Running Back, Utah State: The idea of an undersized, junior running back from a small school entering the draft is unseemingly, but Darwin Thompson could strike while the iron is hot. The lightning-in-a-bottle player averaged 7.2 yards across his 135 carries and scored at an incredible rate, putting up 14 touchdowns on the ground. Factor in his ability as a receiver, and the NFL could be very interested in him. Thompson running roughshod over a tough North Texas defense might compel him to start getting paid for his big plays.

Las Vegas Bowl: 3:30 PM on ABC

  • Kobe Williams, Cornerback, ASU: With N’Keal Harry sitting out, ASU doesn’t have many draft eligible players worth a long look. However, some might be interested in their mighty-mouse cornerback, Kobe Williams. Diminutive at 5’10” and 170 pounds, Williams plays well above the scale. He is a quick, tough cornerback who has no bones coming up to lay a hit. Size might limit him in the NFL’s eyes, but it has never been an obstacle for him. Fresno State’s prolific passing game might test ASU, but Kobe Williams will have a hand in stopping them.
  • KeeSean Johnson, Wide Receiver, Fresno State: Fresno State’s surprise 10 win season can be attributed to a core of seniors whose experience helped carry the Bulldogs along. Among those seniors is their 6’2” wide receiver KeeSean Johnson. Johnson has racked up over 2,300 yards in the last two years and sixteen touchdowns. He is a technical, physical player who could be a difference maker against a young ASU team.

Camellia Bowl: 5:30 PM on ESPN

  • Maxx Crosby, EDGE, EMU: The Eagles don’t have a ton of players on the national radar, but their junior defender is someone deserving of a little respect. The 6’5”, 247 pounder has 18 tackles for a loss this year and his physical play should warrant attention. Crosby has a big frame with room to grow and while entering early seems unlikely, it’s something never out of the question for high upside pass rushers.
  • Joshua Moon, Safety, Georgia Southern: Joshua Moon is far from flashy, but he is as solid a defender as there is in college football. The six foot, 200 pound senior is a very dependable run defender with good instincts in the passing game. The three year starter will likely close out his college career with another strong game against a middling EMU offense.

New Orleans Bowl: 9 PM on ESPN

  • Clifton Duck, Cornerback, Appalachian State: Clifton Duck was an early career phenom for the Mountaineers. With 11 interceptions through his first two years, Duck was one of the most prolific defenders in college football. This year, offenses started going away from the junior cornerback, but he remained a steady defender. Duck not only has great ball skills, but he is physical for a smaller corner. Factor in his electric returning ability and the NFL could be interested in Duck as soon as he’s interested in the NFL. Duck will need to lead the Appalachian State defense against a very solid MTSU defense, and it will be interesting to see if he decides to leave early afterward.
  • Wesley Bush, Safety, MTSU: The Blue Raiders have a star defender of their own. Wesley Bush had a long road to a starting role, going through JUCO and a year as a backup for MTSU, but he seized the opportunity this year when given the starting safety job. The 6’1” safety had six interceptions, with two going for touchdowns and was third on the team in tackles. Bush is without a doubt a playmaker and his knack for the ball will be looked upon highly by the NFL.