College Football Bowl Preview: The Late Games

Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (10-2) 5:30 p.m.

If you happen to tune into this game, focus in on App State’s defensive end, Ronald Blair, who happens to be one of the best defensive ends in the country that you haven’t heard of.

Named the 2015 Sun Belt Player of the Year, Blair will take part in the East-West shrine game before likely getting an invite to the NFL Combine.

The 6’4”, 270-pound defensive end has an impressive combination of size, speed and strength that will play in the NFL, regardless of what level of competition he faced as a member of the Mountaineers.

Blair is as close to unblockable as possible against the run, recording nearly 20 tackles for loss this past season. Good luck to whichever Bobcat draws the unfortunate task of having to attempt to block him today.

San Jose State (5-7) vs. Georgia State (6-6) 7 p.m.

San Jose’s Tyler Ervin is one of the lone players on the field in this one that will make it watchable for those who want to see future NFL players.

Ervin is the focal point of the Spartans’ offense having rushed for 1,459 yards and 13 touchdowns this past season.  Standing just 5’10”, 177 pounds, Ervin won’t overpower you in the running game, but he has enough burst to hit holes quickly and break free to daylight without having to exert much energy.

He seemingly glides when he runs and rarely takes big shots, which bodes well for his NFL prospects.

Outside of Ervin there’s not much else to see here.

Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle (6’1”, 215) is an intriguing prospect due to his size and decision-making, but he just doesn’t flash enough for me to consider him draftable at this point.

That could change with a big game today.

Joel Ruiz is a likely Day Two pick for Georgia State at tight end. Unfortunately, he was lost for the season back in October due to a knee injury. Prior to the season, Mel Kiper Jr. had Ruiz as the fifth-best tight end in the country after hauling in 39 passes for 479 yards and three touchdowns just one year ago.

The 6’4”, 240-pound tight end could be a major steal for a team that scoops him up early on Day Three.

Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4) 9 p.m.

This is a must-watch game for me, mainly because of Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon and quarterback Jeff Driskel.

As of right now Dixon is my No. 3 running back behind Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Alabama’s Derrick Henry heading into the 2016 NFL Draft.

At 5’10”, 212 pounds, Dixon is as reliable a running back there is in this class. He won’t wow you with impressive speed, ankle-breaking cuts or by bowling people over in the hole, but he’s just a consistent force that can play all three downs at the next level.

Dixon is easily one of the top pass protection running backs in this class and possesses soft hands to serve as a chain-moving third down running back.His vision and balance is exceptional and he rarely makes bad decisions as a runner.

Sign me up.

As for Driskel, the former Florida Gators quarterback has turned himself into a late-round quarterback after a strong showing at Louisiana Tech after transferring this past year.

Driskel will never be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he could carve out a nice career as a backup that can come in and make necessary throws while not turning the ball over to “game-manage” his team to wins.

While I might be super-high on Dixon, the star of this Louisiana Tech is defensive tackle Vernon Butler, who will be joining Dixon at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

At 6’3”, 309 pounds, Butler is explosive off the ball and uses his size and strength to his advantage when rushing the passer from the interior. He could emerge as the star at the Senior Bowl in one-on-one pass rushing drills and should work his way into the top 50 with a strong week.

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