The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is set to kick off this weekend, and will roster several familiar names on both the American and National teams.
The American side, coached by former Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson, will feature Ball State offensive lineman Danny Pinter, former Central Michigan running back Jonathan Ward and former Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke.
Pinter, a former tight end, was moved to offensive tackle in 2018, starting all 24 games in his junior and senior seasons after the transition. The six-foot-four, 300 lb. tackle was named to the all-MAC first team in 2019, as he helped to lead one of the more efficient offenses in the MAC. Pinter will likely be most remembered by most fans for scoring an eight-yard rushing touchdown against Central Michigan.
Ward, a dynamic dual-threat running back, finished the 2019 season with 1,108 yards on 183 carries and 15 touchdowns on the ground, as well as 329 yards on 34 receptions for one receiving touchdown in nine games played on the season. (He missed four games with an arm injury.) The six-foot, 208 lb. back was named to the all-MAC second team in 2017 for his efforts as a sophomore, totalling over 1,200+ yards and 11 touchdowns, but dealt with injuries in 2018 and 2019. He’s seen as an UDFA prospect by most pro scouts.
Rourke, standing at six-foot-two, 209 lbs., was one of the nation’s best dual-threat quarterbacks over the last three seasons leading the Bobcats, finising his career as the most efficient quarterback in Bobcat history by passing efficiency rating. He also shattered the program record for touchdowns responsible for, breaking the old mark (83) in September and re-setting it at 111, with 60 passing touchdowns, 49 rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns. Rourke made the all-MAC postseason teams in all three years as a starter, with first-team honors in 2019 and second-team honors in 2017 and 2018. Rourke, an Ontario native, will be a top prospect in the CFL Draft, but might also draw NFL interest.
The National side, coached by former Cincinnnatti Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, will feature Ball State safety Ray Wilborn.
Wilborn, at six-foot-four, 224 lbs., made the conversion from outside linebacker to safety for the 2019 season, and seemingly thrived in the position, totalling 83 tackles, two tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and four pass break-ups.
The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, established 12 years ago, works closely with the NFLPA and other current and former league members to “[prepare] players for the speed and intensity of professional football, [and] for the business and lifestyle changes that come with it.”
A few famous alumni to emerge on NFL rosters who played in the game include Tarik Cohen, Samson Ebukam, Shaquill Griffin, Troy Apke, Marques Valdez-Scantling, Jamal Agnew. and former MAC star Jatavis Brown.
The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will be played on Sat., Jan. 18, at The Rose Bowl in Pasedena, California. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Eastern (4 p.m. local time), with the game being televised exlusively on the NFL Network and the NFL App.