The Tropical Bowl is one of the top-level collegiate all-star games that takes place following the season and before the NFL draft. The game is in its second year after seeing a great amount of success in 2016 where over 70 NFL scouts and 27 teams had executives present. This year, it takes place in Daytona Beach, Florida, and features over 140 athletes from schools in traditional power conferences, FCS conferences, and even lower levels from Division II and III teams.
The purpose of this all-star game is to showcase some of the best talent that might go unrecognized throughout the season due to a variety of reasons. Athletes often play in these games following injuries or because they come from a smaller school and get little media attention. There are quite a few of these players that are considered “sleepers” for the next level following a breakout season.
A total of 37 players from the 2016 Tropical Bowl made NFL summer camp or practice rosters, and four made it through cuts and to the final rosters during the 2016 season.
Some notable alumni from last year’s game: Spencer Pulley of the Los Angeles Chargers, Sharrod Neasman of the Atlanta Falcons, Will Lutz of the New Orleans Saints, and Anthony Lanier of the Washington Redskins.
Players to watch this year:
Cory Butler-Byrd, a three position athlete from Utah, has played running back, wide receiver, and defensive back as well as returning kickoffs for the Utes this year. He is a very versatile player that really improved from his junior to senior season.
He recorded 30 total tackles (22 solo) and three interceptions on defense, while also recording a rushing touchdown and returning a kick of 99 yards for a touchdown.
Jody Webb, a triple threat running back for the Youngstown State Penguins, played in the FCS national championship game a few days ago. The school plays in the Missouri Valley Football Conference which is widely considered the best conference at the FCS level. He can run, receive, and return kicks. He is a 5-9 running back and many may think he is a bit undersized, there have been players of his style succeed at the next level. Thinking of someone like Danny Woodhead, Webb can definitely find success at the NFL level.
Some notable season stats are his six games in a row of 100+ rushing yards, including a season high of 231 yards. He also recorded two rushing touchdowns in three straight games this year.
Tyler Jones, a quarterback out of Texas State, has shown signs of greatness throughout his career, but has always played on pretty poor teams. His statistics do not reflect his raw talent level. He threw for 8,480 yards in his career and 55 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,409 yards and 21 touchdowns.
His teams at Texas State went 18-30 during his time at quarterback, but he managed to become 2nd on the career passing yards list, 4th for single season passing yards, has the two highest passing yards per game performances, and ranks 2nd all time for total touchdown passes. He was sacked a whopping 79 times during his career and did not get much help from most of the other players.
Keep an eye on these three players at the Tropical Bowl and see if they can make it to an NFL roster.
The Tropical Bowl is being played at 9:00am on Sunday the 15th. Tune in on their website for a live stream of the game at www.tropicalbowl.com.