The 2022 Hula Bowl won’t be in Hawai’i this season due to Aloha Stadium’s condemnation and COVID restrictions statewide, but a change in venue won’t affect the action on the gridiron, as the second edition of the renewed Hula Bowl will take place in Orlando, Florida.
The bowl game, rebooted in 2021 after first being established in 1946, will see six former MAC stars participating between both teams. The coaching staff for both sides are stacked with former NFL and NCAA talents, with former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith leading Team Aina, while former Super Bowl champion head coach Brian Billick leads Team Kai. Other coaches involved include Mike Tice, Wade Phillips, Kevin Sumlin, Ron Turner and Jonathan Hayes.
The 2022 Hula Bowl, in its new location at UCF’s Bounce House Stadium, will be aired on CBS Sports Network, with kickoff slated for 12 noon Eastern time/11 a.m. Central time on Saturday, January 15.
Here is a brief profile of the six MAC players who will look to make their marks in Orlando on Saturday afternoon:
- Thomas Odukoya, TE, Eastern Michigan
A native of the Netherlands, Odukoya was primarily a blocking tight end who showed sure hands on shot plays in limited routes. 2021 was Odukoya’s best season as an Eagle, with 130 yards and two touchdowns on 13 receptions, averaging exactly 10 yards per catch, picking up third-team all-MAC honors in 2021 for his efforts.
Odukoya, a 2020 team captain who was chosen to wear the #2 legacy jersey in the same year, finished his EMU career with 21 receptions for 194 yard and four touchdowns in 40 games played.
- Brayden Patton, OL, Northern Illinois
Patton, an Elletsville, Illinois native, was a four-year starter in his six seasons at NIU, with a late focus on the center position after 1.5 seasons at right guard. Patton is a two-time all-MAC selection, peaking at second-team all-MAC this past year during NIU’s title run. Standing at six-foot-five, 309 lbs., he has size in the interior of the line which could be attractive to any team who wants to primarily run the ball at the next level.
- Kadofi Wright, LB, Buffalo
Richmond, Virginia’s own Kadofi Wright was a do-it-all linebacker for the Buffalo Bulls in his six seasons for the flagship SUNY school. Wright was a notable omission from a deep class of linebackers in the 2021 all-MAC list, but the lack of award doesn’t discount his season, as he finished with 49 tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks, a fumble forced, a fumble recovery, one interception and five passes defensed.
An outside linebacker with excellent pass coverage skills, Wright finishes his Bulls career with 147 tackles, 16.5 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks, two fumbles forced, four fumble recoveries, four interceptions, and 12 pass break-ups (with all 12 of these in 2020/21.) Wright made one all-MAC appearance, being names second-team in his breakout 2019 season.
- Bryant Koback, HB, Toledo
Koback took a gamble transferring from the ascendant Kentucky program in the SEC, but it definitely worked out, as Koback is widely regarded as one of the best running back prospects to come out of the MAC in recent years.
The Holland, Ohio, native’s final season in Blue and Gold saw him finish with 1,734 total yards and 18 total touchdowns, averaging 103.5 yards per game on the ground along the way. His efforts placed him on the all-MAC first-team for 2021, to make for his second appearance on the list; Koback first appeared on the list in 2019 as a member of the second-team all-MAC squad.
Over his career, Koback picked up 4,026 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground, paired with 654 yards and seven touchdowns as a receiver on 66 receptions, proving himself an effective three-down back who was unafraid of contact.
Koback currently projects as a Day 3 or priority undrafted free agent selection by most NFL Draft prognosticators.
- Ralph Holley, EDGE, Western Michigan
Holley was the opposite EDGE to MAC Defensive Player of the Year Ali Fayad throughout their respective careers, but that doesn’t mean Holley stood by and watched.
In 2021, Holley complimented one of the MAC’s fiercest pass rushers with a respectable 39 tackles, including 16.5 tackles-for-loss, six sacks and a forced fumble, finishing as a second-team all-MAC down lineman honoree.
Holley, a West Bloomfield, Michigan native, finished his WMU career with an impressive resume, with 135 tackles, 44.5 tackles-for-loss, 20.5 sacks over his five years in Kalamazoo.