Bowl Game Prospect Viewing Guide: New Orleans Bowl and Cure Bowl

Joe Mafla with a prospect preview for the New Orleans Bowl and Cure Bowl, featuring Troy, North Texas, Western Kentucky and Georgia State

‘Tis the season for over 40 college bowl games sponsored by some very obscure companies to celebrate the mediocrity of 6-6 teams. Surely there is an angry old man somewhere waving his fist screaming about how “everyone gets a trophy” and “the Millennials are ruining everything.” At TOJ, we love bowl season. Maybe not for the games because watching Western Kentucky against Georgia State is not very appealing, but it gives us a chance to watch some teams that we did not get a chance to watch this season and evaluate some prospects who may not have been regularly exposed to us.

New Orleans Bowl

Matchup: Troy vs. North Texas

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Network: ESPN

Troy’s prospect:

  • CB Blace Brown

2017 stats: 33 tackles, 5 INTs (1 pick-six), 1 forced fumble, 6 passes defended

Cornerbacks are in high demand in today’s pass-happy league. If you’ve got the size, the cover skills and the hands, odds are a team will find you and draft you whether you go to Troy or Alabama. Brown possesses all of those traits. The 6-foot, 185-pound corner has 11 interceptions over the last two seasons and has performed well against top competition. In an early season upset over LSU, he allowed just three catches and came away with a game-sealing interception. The draft process — especially the combine — means more to corners than just about any other position, so Brown’s draft position is far from being determined. He can go anywhere from the 3rd to the 6th at this point depending on how he performs in the coming months. It is always tough to get a read on corners this early in the process aside from the truly elite players.

North Texas’s prospect:

  • RB Jeffery Wilson

2017 stats: 188 carries, 1,215 yards, 16 TDs; 24 catches, 168 yards

Career stats: 562 carries, 3,205 yards, 32 TDs; 70 catches, 527 yards, 2 TDs

Durability has been an issue for the 6-foot, 200-pound back. When he has been healthy, he has been able to flash his talent and help the Mean Green in a big way. Unfortunately, the injuries have been constant. He missed the last two games of this season with a foot injury and his status for the bowl game is uncertain. He missed two games last season with a knee injury that required surgery, two games the prior season, and three as a freshman. If he can stay healthy, he has that mix of power and finesse that could allow him to carve out a role at the next level in the right situation. He is a 7th-rounder at the moment, and his health going forward will be key. If the foot keeps him from participating throughout the draft process, he will not hear his name called. A clean bill of health, however, could allow him to showcase his abilities and climb up into the 5th or 6th.

Cure Bowl

Matchup: Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Network: CBS Sports Network

Georgia State’s Prospects: N/A

Western Kentucky’s prospect:

  • QB Mike White

2017 stats: 65.6% completion percentage, 3,826 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs, 7.34 YPA

Career stats: 61.8% completion percentage, 10,911 yards, 72 TDs, 30 INTs, 7.7 YPA

He was overshadowed by the likes of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and the rest of the top QBs, but there was some hype surrounding White heading into this season. He was coming off a stellar campaign in which he completed 67.3 percent of his passes for a career high 4,363 yards, 37 touchdowns, seven interceptions and an impressive 10.5 yards per attempt. His 2017 was good but not nearly as good as his 2016, and that had a lot to do with the departure of head coach and play-caller Jeff Brohm, who left for the Purdue job and turned them into a bowl team. White reminds me a lot of the Cowboys’ Cooper Rush. He doesn’t have the biggest arm and he is not very athletic, but he is accurate, reads the field well and makes good decisions. Rush went undrafted and while I don’t believe White’s fate will be the same, I can’t imagine him being drafted before the 6th round. He will end up serving as a backup or third-string quarterback just like Rush.