Mel Kiper released his first mock draft this week, which means the long, arduous journey to the NFL Draft in late April has officially begun. Outside of the combine, one of the most vital scouting exercises is performed during January during college all-star game season. Several MAC stars already played in the SPIRAL Tropical Bowl, which occurred on January 14.
Miss MAC football? Watch the SPIRAL Tropical Bowl today and see:— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) January 14, 2018
Reggie McGee-Ball State
Watch live at https://t.co/0otaVAYLxR at 9am ET
One game is already in the books, but there are three more to go.
East-West Shrine Game
Saturday, January 20 — St. Petersburg, FL
NFL Network, 3 pm EST
Joe Davidson, P, Bowling Green
The best punter in the MAC was rewarded with a trip to Florida. A Ray Guy watch list member, Davidson booted 60 punts in 2017 with a 44.0 average. Bowling Green will miss his role in changing field position, but an NFL team will certainly want Davidson on its roster. He also was named a First Team Academic All-American with a double major in finance and mathematics.
Heath Harding, CB, Miami (OH)
Even as a cornerback, Harding was one of the RedHawks' best tacklers over the past couple years. He totaled a career-high of 97 tackles during the 2014 season and finished his time in Oxford with 284. Thanks to a medical redshirt in 2015, Harding enjoyed a long career at Miami and was a member of the historic 2016 team that won six-straight and achieved bowl eligibility after an 0-6 start.
Joe Ostman, DE, Central Michigan
Ostman (along with NIU's Sutton Smith) led the entire nation in sacks with 14.0. Ostman performed plenty of damage on the Ball State offensive line in a game where he managed to bring down the quarterback four times and force a fumble. His stat sheet which features 19.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles will definitely be presented to NFL scouts in attendance.
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
Saturday, January 20 — Pasadena, CA
FS1, 4 pm EST
Amari Coleman, CB, Central Michigan
The First Team All-MAC corner will don a maroon and gold helmet for the final time at the Rose Bowl. He produced a special moment near the end of his Chippewa career by returning a 33-yard interception to the end zone to stave off an Eastern Michigan comeback on November 8. For a defender, Coleman had the pigskin in his hands quite frequently — seven interceptions in his final two seasons in Mt. Pleasant.
Josh Cox, FS, Central Michigan
Cox was Coleman's partner in crime in the Central Michigan secondary. He intercepted six passes for 118 yards in his senior year and landed a spot on Second Team All-MAC. The Warren, MI native finished with career highs in nearly every statistic and was part of a special senior class that qualified for the postseason all four years.
Donnie Ernsberger, TE, Western Michigan
After seldom use in his first few years in Kalamazoo, Ernsberger was treated to a breakout senior year. His two touchdowns in the 7OT win over Buffalo were a very memorable part of Western Michigan's 2017 run, and he earned a career-high 91 receiving yards in a thrilling overtime win over in-state rival Eastern Michigan.
Quentin Poling, ILB, Ohio
Poling earned First Team All-MAC honors in 2016 and 2017 after recording 109 and 106 tackles in these seasons, respectively. The heart and soul of the Bobcats' defense dominated in green and white with 18 sacks and seven interceptions in a storied career. Poling's time in college came to an excellent close as he earned his first bowl win in a 41-6 pulverization of UAB in the Bahamas Bowl.
Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo
Woodside is one of the best quarterbacks in MAC history. The MAC Offensive Player of the Year award was bestowed to Toledo's all-time leading passer after tossing 28 touchdowns on 3,882 yards in 2017. Woodside led the entire FBS in passing touchdowns during his junior season and was a crucial part in securing Toledo's first conference championship since 2004.
Saturday, January 27 — Mobile, AL
NFL Network, 3 pm EST
Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan
Conklin began the season on the bench with an injury, but upon his return, he proved why he's one of the best receiving tight ends in the nation. His 2017 debut featured a 10-catch, 136-yard outing with two touchdowns. On top of that, his team was able to capitalize on his performance and pull off a road upset over Ohio. Conklin's final three games as a Chippewa included an outstanding 269 receiving yards.
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
One year after his former teammate Taylor Moton was selected, Okorafor looks to become the next great offensive tackle from Western Michigan to be chosen in the NFL Draft. The back-to-back First Team All-MAC selection is one of the 3-5 best tackles in this draft. His 6-6, 330-pound build combined with his solid footwork will lure in plenty of NFL teams that need a left tackle for the future.
Darius Phillips, CB/RS, Western Michigan
Phillips entered Western Michigan as a receiver, but he did most of his scoring outside of the offense — including five career kickoff returns for touchdowns (four of 100 yards, including a barnburner at USC on Week 1). His blazing speed has also been demonstrated on his interceptions, as he led the entire FBS with 263 interception return yards during Western Michigan's 13-1 season in 2016. Phillips finishes college with 14 career touchdowns (2 offense, 6 defense, 6 special teams), and he is a spectacle to watch on any side of the ball.
- Out of the 11 MAC players playing in the East-West Shrine Game, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and Senior Bowl, the breakdown by team is: Central Michigan (4), Western Michigan (3), Bowling Green (1), Miami OH (1), Ohio (1), Toledo (1).
- Eastern Michigan QB Brogan Roback was originally slated to appear in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl before suffering an injury in his season finale.
- Toledo RB Kareem Hunt rushed for 118 yards and boosted his stock by winning North Outstanding Player honors in the 2017 Senior Bowl.
- Akron QB Charlie Frye won the MVP of the 2005 Senior Bowl before starting 23 games over a five-year NFL career.
- Central Michigan DE Dan Bazuin is the only MAC player to be named an MVP of the East-West Shrine Game (2007).
- Following the college all-star games, the NFL Draft will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX this year from April 26-28.