College seniors get one more chance to surprise NFL scouts

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Photo Courtesy pennstatenews

Ryan Stevens a media relations volunteer watches the Senior Bowl practice as part of his job.

Picture this: you have been playing college football for the past three years, trying to raise your draft stock and showcase your talent to NFL scouts. All your hard work has brought you to this one game, which will make or break your chance to play in the NFL.

The Senior Bowl is a post-season college football all-star game played on the last Saturday in January at the University of South Alabama. Every year, the nation’s top senior college football players are invited to play in the Senior Bowl. The game is played after a week of events meant to introduce players to NFL scouts. 

The Senior Bowl is a non-profit organization that was established under the umbrella of The Mobile Arts and Sports Association. Since its inception in 1951, the Senior Bowl has donated $7.8 million dollars to youth-related charities along the Gulf Coast. 

The teams that compete in the Senior Bowl are the “Americans” and the “Nationals.” In 2021, the Americans were led by Brian Flores (coach for the Miami Dolphins) and the Nationals were led by Matt Rhule (coach for the Carolina Panthers). The 2021 quarterbacks were Feleipe Franks (Arkansas), Sam Ehlinger (Texas), and Ian Book (Notre Dame) for the Nationals. For the Americans, the Quarterbacks were Kellen Mond (Texas A&M), Jamie Newman (Wake-Forest), and Mac Jones (Alabama). 

In 2021, the game started slow for the Americans.  At the end of the first quarter, they had zero points. In contrast, the Nationals scored 10 points with a field goal by Riley Patterson and a touchdown by Demetric Felton. In the second quarter, neither team was able to make any significant gains. The only score was another field goal by Riley Patterson for the Nationals. The end of the half had the Nationals leading the Americans 13-0. “The first half was not very exciting,” sophomore Saurav Khetan said.

The game started a little boring, but in the second half it got interesting.”

— Brett Halpern

The second half proved much more exciting from the start. The Americans had the first possession. They came out of the locker room firing off a quick TD followed by a two-point conversion by Amari Rodgers. With the momentum on their side, the Americans stormed down the field and scored again with a TD by Josh Palmer and a two-point conversion by Rodgers. The only points the Nationals scored in the third quarter was a last-second TD by Micheal Carter. The fourth quarter shifted the game from offense plays to big defensive plays. First was an interception by Shawn Davis for the Americans, and the next possession was an interception for the Nationals by Damar Hamlin. The offense came back into the groove, but only in one last possession for both teams. Kenny Yeboah scored a TD for the Nationals and then the Americans scored nine points with a Trevon Grimes TD and then a two-point conversion by Kylin Hill. “The game started a little boring, but in the second half it got interesting,” Junior Brett Halpern said.

At the end of the game, the Nationals beat the Americans 27-24, but the American QB Kellen Mond was the MVP of the game with 13-25 passes completed 173 yards and two TDs. “Mond deserved the MVP. He put everything on the line for the Americans,” senior Ari Glazier said.