Continuing our preview of bowl prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: Florida Atlantic vs. Akron – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
The lone bowl game on December 19th is between Lane Kiffin’s record setting offense and Terry Bowden’s squad taking on the underdog role. The Florida Atlantic Owls and Akron Zips are two completely different teams, but both have a couple guys who hold NFL skill sets. There is a lack of draft potential seniors in the Boca Raton Bowl; however, there are a number of underclassmen who have showcased serious talent this year.
It is impossible to begin talking about FAU without mentioning sophomore running back, Devin Singletary. The Conference USA’s most valuable player rushed for 1,859 yards and 29 touchdowns this season. His elusiveness and stature remind me of Ravens RB Danny Woodhead and the Eagles Darren Sproles. His 2017 campaign opened the eyes of many and he has the opportunity to increase his draft stock over the next year. It is not a coincidence that his nick name is “Motor” because of his horse power and breakout speed.
While Singletary leads the Owls offense, junior safety Jalen Young heads the defense. Young leads FAU with 7 interceptions on the season. That is tied for best in the nation. Young occasionally forgets his duties on the field and, instead, looks for the big hit. Although could be looked at as a negative, he possesses the ability to hit harder than most safeties in college football. The 2017 season was Young’s best while in college. One more productive year with Lane Kiffin’s expertise could skyrocket his draft stock to the top couple of rounds.
The Zips’ defense starts and ends with junior linebacker, Ulysees Gilbert. He leads Akron with 104 total tackles and 4 sacks. Gilbert will not wow you with his strength and physique, but he is incredibly fast and agile. He also has the ability to drop back in coverage as Gibert has two interceptions this year. I am not ready to compare him to Ryan Shazier completely, but he has shown flashes of Shazier’s game. He has the speed to keep up with many running backs and blows up the gaps. It will be interesting to see how he fairs against a prolific FAU running attack.
At 6-0, 200 pounds, junior defensive back Jordan George has also been a problem for opposing offenses. His 4 interceptions lead the Zips. He is a bigger, more physical defensive back that NFL teams should take a look at. Barring an incredible senior season next year, he will most likely be drafted extremely late or signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019.