In contrast to last year, the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl is loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball. Last year was headlined by departing “god to football” Tim Tebow, which brought more attention to that side of the ball then it deserved. This time, both the North and South rosters are so loaded with talent that it’ll be really interesting to see how the coaches scheme and develop some packages for certain future super stars. What’s impressive is that the defensive side of the ball is loaded with just as many big names as the offense, which should make for a superb football game on Saturday.
The South team is headlined by nationally recognized QBs, Alabama’s Greg McElroy, Florida State’s Christian Ponder, and TCU’s Andy Dalton. All three quarterbacks are very talented and extremely smart players. It has been said that these three were some of the best decision makers in the NCAA this past season. Coupled with their abilities, this will be an exciting group to watch. Look for Dalton and Ponder to focus on staying in the pocket, but using their legs when needed. Out of the three, Christian Ponder faces the biggest uphill battle due to a season full of bursa sac draining and minor arm surgeries. With that being said, I think he has the capability to be the best looking QB on the field during this event.
The Running Backs and Wide Receivers are a group of who’s who in the NCAA. The backs are headlined by West Virginia’s Noel Devine, Kentucky’s Derrick Locke, and diamond-in-the-rough Bilal Powell from Louisville. Each were 1,000 yard rushers this past season and each bring something different to the table, so it’ll be intriguing to see how they all complement each other. Watch for Georgia Tech’s Anthony Allen to be a boom or bust this week. He’ll either be a surprise leading back or a player that will fade into the background.
The receivers are headlined by Hawaii’s Greg Salas, TCU’s do-it-all man Jeremy Kerley, and Miami’s Leonard Hankerson. Hankerson decided to come back for his senior year to improve his draft stock, and he did just that by leading the ACC this past season in nearly all receiving stats. USC’s Ronald Powell has something to prove this year as USC players typically do not fare so well at this event, so he’ll be looking to ride some season-ending momentum into this showcase. Salas is coming off of a stellar year and with solid QB’s tossing him the ball, I expect a really nice showing from him.
The Offensive line sports a couple of all conference guys, and even one All-American in Florida State’s G Rodney Hudson. This is a group loaded with some SEC talent that has faced some of the best defensive lineman in the country.
The other side of the trenches looks extremely impressive with names like Clemson’s Jarvis Jenkins, Miami’s Allen Bailey, Texas’ Sam Acho, and Arizona’s Brooks Reed. Watch for this line to be a high-tempo, pass rushing group that will have a really good shot at racking up some sacks.
The linebackers will see Miami’s Colin McCarthy, NCST’s Nate Irving, Texas A&M’s Von Miller. This is a fast and extremely athletic group that will show up in run support. Nate Irving returned from a life-threatening car accident that took place in 2009 causing him to miss all of the 2009 season. He returned to lead the Wolfpack in tackles and tackles for a loss.
The secondary is full of some big names like Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel and Marcus Gilchrist, USC’s Shareece Wright, and UF’s Ahmad Black. This group is a little weaker than the North side, but the Clemson tandem is two of the better ball-hawking DBs in the entire group. Black can really surprise some people and increase his stock by having a solid shut-down performance that we expected out of him this season.
This should be a fun game. I can’t wait to get out there and see these guys in action. More to come from Mobile.