It is yet another Monday morning that follows a Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss. These are the morning where life feels bleak and miserable but luckily for those still wishing to get their football fix, there is one bowl game scheduled for today. The Gasparilla Bowl will take place at 2:30 p.m. EST and will see Marshall take on UCF.
Gasparilla Bowl: Marshall vs. UCF – 2:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Marshall’s offense is powered by a big and physical runner in Brenden Knox. At 6’0 and 220 lbs, Knox was able to clear out a path on the field by running over anything in his path. While he is still just a sophomore, the Marshall offense will channel through him and he is expected to play a big part in the Gasparilla Bowl after putting up over 1200 rushing yards this season.
If Knox owes a thank you to anyone, it is center Levi Brown. The Marshall center has made 38 consecutive starts. Brown has documented good growth throughout his collegiate career as well, making the all-freshman team his first team and then making first team all conference last season. While watching offensive linemen is not always the most entertaining idea, Brown is one player who should be watched as his play has been stellar.
Rounding out the offense is tight end Armani Levias who recorded 43 receptions for 486 yards along with three touchdowns this season. Marshall used Levias in numerous different ways, including out wide, where he was able to provide this highlight worthy one-handed touchdown.
At the linebacking level, Tavante Beckett is the be-all, end-all of the group. Beckett led the team with 115 tackles this season and also recorded 6.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and one interception. Beckett has an interesting story as this season was his first time on a field since 2016 after transferring from Virginia Tech.
Two players for UCF have already opted out of this game in preparation for the NFL draft. Quarterback/athlete Brandon Wimbush has already stated his intentions for the draft and he is a very interesting prospect. Wimbush started the first game of the season at quarterback but was then replaced and spent the reason of the season transitioning to wide receiver. He’s an athletic piece that teams could take as a lottery pick late.
Running back Adrian Killins (that’s an NFL ready name) is also sitting this one out after the senior running back rushed for 2459 yards on 407 carries during his time at UCF.
One big name UCF prospect who has also declared but will play is receiver Gabriel Davis. This is a receiver that has taken strides in each season he has played. After recording 391 receiving yards as a freshman, Davis jumped to 815 yards in his sophomore year before closing out his collegiate career with 1241 receiving yards this season. Davis’ 1241 receiving yards ranked first in the AAC and fifth most in the entire NCAA.
At 6’3, Davis has a large frame that allows him to be a physical receiver and while he may not possess top end speed, he still has an adequate amount of speed. He is also fairly quick for his size which helps with his route running. Just watch him beat his man off the line to bring down this pass for a touchdown.
Linebacker Nate Evans and defensive lineman Brendon Hayes will hold up the fort on the defensive side of the ball for UCF. Evans has racked up 199 tackles over his last two seasons while Hayes had a breakout year, leading the team with 7.5 sacks.