clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2024 Hula Bowl Post-Game Stats and Analysis

The first collegiate all-star game kicked off on January 13th, with four former MAC stars making their mark for NFL scouts.

NCAA Football: Arizona Bowl-Toledo at Wyoming Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023-24 College All-Star game slate kicked off on Saturday as athletes came from all over to participate in the 78th edition of the Hula Bowl. Traditionally, the Hula Bowl is played in Hawai’i, but Orlando, Florida played the host for the third consecutive season due to renovations in Honolulu.

Team Kai, led by former Super Bowl-winning coach Brian Billick, beat Team Team Aina, coached by former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, 24-17.

Toledo’s Judge Culpepper and Bowling Green’s Odieu Hilaire were selected as members of Team Kai while Team Aina had James Ester out of Northern Illinois and Alex McNulty from Buffalo.

There are no official stats, unfortunately, so most conclusions are subjective.

Hula Bowl Highlights

Judge Culpepper got off to a hot start. In his first two snaps, he recorded a pair of tackles. It was apparent that Culpepper was playing his best football in this one as he showcased his high motor and ability to get to the passer.

He succeeded on a few snaps to anchor down against double teams and disrupt the offense’s play. In total, Culpepper finished with 2.5 tackles and a quarterback hurry. On that hurry, he forced an incompletion.

Odieu Hilaire was a late addition to the Hula Bowl roster and wasn’t even on the original official roster. The talented receiver out of Bowling Green earned a solid handful of snaps for Team Kai where he showed his ability to find the soft spots in the zone.

In total, he converted three targets for three receptions and 30 yards. Away from catching the ball, Hilaire had a crucial block on Team Kai’s second touchdown of the game on the ground.

James Ester had himself a strong week of practice ahead of the game. When it came time for the Hula Bowl, he was able to clog up the interior running lanes and disrupt the offense’s blocking schemes.

There are a few players who are double-dipping the Hula Bowl and another all-star game and there have been some calls from NFL scouts to allow Ester to suit up for another down the line as well.

Finally, being a kicker on an all-star roster means the teams are made up and the loyalty doesn’t matter. Despite being considered Team Aina, Alex McNulty only ever attempted one extra point on one of Team Kai’s touchdowns.

The next all-star game on the docket is the Tropical Bowl, where 15 other former MAC players are set to suit up (more on that soon).

The Tropical Bowl will be on Saturday, January 20th at 12:00 p.m. Eastern, also set to be played in Orlando, Florida.