Six small-school players NFL fans want to watch during bowl season


It is a sad but wonderful time of year for college football fans. The regular season is over, which means football season is almost over. But the end of the regular season also brings about Bowl Season. Starting December 16 and ending on January 8 with the National Championship Game, a slate of 40 games will be played featuring the best of the best college football has to offer.

Well—they have to have at least six wins (with a couple of exceptions every year), so the games aren’t always the best. But they do accomplish something that doesn’t happen during the regular season. Football fans will get a chance to watch teams they have not seen much of, if at all.

Small schools and lesser-known programs don’t get the national exposure that teams from the Power Five conferences get. That doesn’t mean those teams are not talented or playing good football. It just means they don’t drive ratings quite like an Oklahoma game or a Penn State one does.

But at the end of the season, fans want football. So, when faced with the choice of watching another Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel with their significant other or watching the Las Vegas Bowl featuring San Diego State and Houston they can say, “Sorry honey, but the game is on.”

In the process, they get to see some talented young players that they would have otherwise never seen. But come draft time, NFL teams will be mining these teams for talent as much as the big-name schools.

When Bowl Season kicks off, the following players are names you probably don’t know much about. But you will hear about them when the draft rolls around. Most of them will not get picked, if they get picked at all, until the later rounds of the draft.

But they’ll make a roster somewhere.

Logan Woodside, quarterback, Toledo Rockets

NFL teams may wish the Rockets senior quarterback was an inch or two taller (he’s 6’2”), but they will love his efficiency (170.5; third best in FBS). Anyone that throws 345 times and only throws three interceptions is going to spark interest among NFL teams.

Mike White, quarterback, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

His size alone will get a couple of teams to give him a look (6’4” and 225 pounds). His numbers dipped this season compared to last, but he still finished the regular season third in the country in total passing yards. Western Kentucky’s struggles this season (6-6) may keep some scouts from giving him a good look. But those that do will be glad they did.

Michael Gallup, wide receiver, Colorado State Rams

With the emphasis being put on the passing game these days, every team is looking for the hidden gem among wide receivers in the draft. With 94 catches for 1345 yards (fourth in the nation) and seven touchdowns, he may not be a hidden gem, but a gem nonetheless. He has almost three times as many receptions as the Rams second best guy. Clearly, more targets come his way than any of his teammates. That means teams probably double cover him a lot. For him to still make so many receptions is impressive and will help attract attention from NFL teams.

Joe Ostman, defensive lineman, Central Michigan Chippewas

He may be a little small at 255 pounds (6’3”), but NFL teams are going to like a guy who can lead the nation in sacks/game (20) and make 17.5 tackles for a loss as a senior. He may go undrafted because of his size. But if he does, someone will be making him a free agent offer the minute the draft ends.

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, defensive end, Arkansas State Red Wolves

Like Ostman, he is a little on the small side (6’2” and 244 pounds). But NFL teams will work with that by moving him to outside linebacker. He has more of a track record than Ostman (60.5 tackles for a loss in four years; 19.5 as a senior, 41 career sacks; 13 as a junior and 12 as a senior). Because of that, teams will be more willing to overlook his size.

Jaylon Ferguson, defensive end, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

#45 Jaylon Ferguson

 

He burst onto the scene last year with 14.5 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. This year, his numbers took a hit (six sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss), but he did miss two games, which could explain some of the dip. Teams likely planned for him the entire season, too. But At 6’5” and 269 pounds, he has the size that NFL scouts love to work with.