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Six MAC players named to 2024 Senior Bowl Preseason Watch List

Kurtis Rourke, Rocky Lombardi highlight the #MACtion representation for Mobile’s premier prospect bowl.

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Senior Bowl is the premier bowl game for NFL-bound prospects, with the Mobile, Alabama-based exhibition match often graduating lots of Roud 1 picks and steady contributors who have gone on to find roles as professionals.

Being named to the Senior Bowl watchlist, then, is an accomplishment in and of itself, as it’s an indication that NFL scouts are interested in what these players have to offer.

This season, a total of six players from three schools in the Mid-American Conference have gotten the nod from the Senior Bowl’s scouting department. In the 2023 edition of the game, the MAC ultimately sent two prospects to the dance in Thomas Incoom (now in Denver) and Karl Brooks (now in Green Bay.)

Here are the names under consideration for this year, listed by alphabetical order of program:

Rocky Lombardi

NCAA Football: Cure Bowl-Northern Illinois at Coastal Carolina Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Rocky Lombardi returns for his seventh season of service in college football after dealing with an injury which derailed most of his 2022 campaign.

The former Michigan State Spartan arrived in DeKalb in 2021 and was influential in turning the Huskies’ fortunes around en route to their MAC Championship win. Lombardi finished the 2021 season with 24 total touchdowns (15 passing, nine rushing) and 3,070 total yards. Under his leadership, NIU has an 11-6 record in games he’s made appearances in.

Between NIU and Michigan State, Lombardi is 409-of-750 (54 percent completion) for 5,144 yards and 39 touchdown passes, with 640 career rushing yards and nine scores.

Kurtis Rourke

NCAA Football: Ohio at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Kurtis Rourke took up his brother Nathan’s mantle and ran with it, proving to be an effective dual-threat quarterback and one of the NCAA’s best playmakers. He’ll have both NFL and CFL intrigue as a Canadian national, making his 2023 campaign a vital one for his future prospects.

Rourke was the MAC’s breakout player of 2022, earning Offensive Player of the Year honors after splitting time with Armani Rogers in the ill-fated 2021 season. Rourke played in 11 of the Bobcats’ 14 games last season, suffering a torn ACL vs. Ball State just two weeks before the end of the regular season.

Rourke was 207-of-302 (69 percent) passing for 2,725 yards, 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions through the air in 2022, with 234 yards and four scores on the ground in 62 attempts.

He’ll be back in time for their Week 0 contest vs. San Diego State, in the hopes of keeping up similar efforts.

Quinyon Mitchell

Toledo v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Quinyon Mitchell was one of the MAC’s most opportunistic playmakers on the defensive side of the ball in 2022, showing a great nose for the football from the corner position. Much like Rourke, Mitchell was a breakout candidate last season after being part of a rotation at his position.

Mitchell finished with 41 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, five interceptions, 20 pass break-ups and 25 passes defensed in 2022. His 25 defenses led the country, while his 20 pass break-ups led the MAC.

Mitchell, a first-team all-MAC selection, was also noticed by the national media, as he earned selections to All-American teams by Walter Camp, Phil Steele, Pro Football Focus (all second-team), and the Associated Press (third-team.)

Mitchell has 82 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack, five interceptions, 33 passes defensed, a fumble recovery, and forced fumble over 33 appearances in three seasons.

Devin Maddox

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Toledo at Buffalo Photo by Joshua Bessex/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Prior to 2022, Maddox had made his name for the Rockets as a kick returner, earning second-team honors as a punt return specialist after a 2021 season where he picked up 7.6 yards on average per punt.

2022 saw Maddox in an elevated role, and he put up admirable numbers, finishing the campaign with 39 receptions (third on team), 539 yards (second on team) and three touchdowns as part of a deep Rockets rotation.

With a number of departures and a wide-open receiver battle up top this season, Maddox is expected to have a large role, one where he could have success given his years of experience in the program as a role receiver.

Over his four-year career, Maddox has 108 receptions for 1,419 yards and 11 touchdowns, never missing a game he was eligible for dating back to 2019.

Maxen Hook

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Toledo at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Maxen Hook is one of the MAC’s best safety prospects, anchoring the back of a Toledo secondary which was one of the most dangerous positional units in the conference in 2022.

Hook built up on a promising 2021 season where he earned third-team all-MAC honors with another all-conference campaign, this time landing on the first-team roster after accumulating 81 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, a sack, two interceptions, six passes defensed and four pass break-ups.

It was a bit of a reduction in sheer tackling numbers (81 compared to 95 the prior year), but Hook showed great improvements in coverage, with double the pass break-ups (six in 2022 compared to three the prior year) and two picks, the first of his career.

Should Hook, a true senior, continue to build a true all-around resume, he’ll certainly catch the eyes of pro scouts as a late-round intrigue pick, a la former teammate Tycen Anderson.

Marshawn Kneeland

NCAA Football: Quick Lane Bowl-Nevada at Western Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The presence of Marshawn Kneeland wasn’t a sure thing in 2023 for the Western Michigan Broncos. The down lineman had initailly entered the transfer portal and committed to Colorado after the arrival of new head coach Lance Taylor, but was convinced to return.

The Grand Rapids native will now play his final year of eligibility in Kalamazoo instead, a welcome relief for a team which finds itself desperately in need of upperclassman leadership after a wave of transfers. Kneeland had a career year in 2022, picking up 37 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks last year as a redshirt sophomore despite missing three games due to injury.

Dating back to 2020, his first year of action, Kneeland has 92 total tackles, 20 tackles-for-loss, 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble, three passes defensed and a field goal block.