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15 former MAC players invited to 2024 Tropical Bowl

The next collegiate all-star game is the Tropical Bowl where over a dozen former MAC stars are set to suit up for NFL scouts.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Ball State at Western Michigan Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The ninth annual Trillion Tropical Bowl is set to take place on Saturday, January 20 at 12:00 P.M. Fans can tune in via the Tropical Bowl’s exclusive Pay Per View event.

This year, over a dozen former MAC players accepted invites to the second collegiate all-star game in this cycle. Last year, 12 players earned invites whereas this year, that number increased to 15.

The former MAC players will get the opportunity to work out and impress scouts from not only the NFL (31 teams will be present) but the CFL and newly-formed UFL as well.

Here, we will break down the 15 players by team.

National (Black)

Cole Harrity, WR, Buffalo

Harrity came to Buffalo by way of the Transfer Portal. Buffalo was his fourth school as he went from Weber State to Saddleback College to New Mexico State to Buffalo. Prior to Buffalo, Harrity amassed 1,113 yards and seven touchdowns in four years. In his two years at Buffalo, Harrity added 464 yards and four touchdowns. Harrity appeared in 25 games in two years with the Bulls.

Adrian Gonzalez, DT, Eastern Michigan

For the last two years, Adrian Gonzalez anchored down the Eastern Michigan defensive line. In 21 games with the Eagles, Gonzalez tallied 19 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, half of a sack, two pass breakups, and a fumble recovery. Prior to EMU, Gonzalez played at ITESM Monterrey in Mexico and won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 on a team that won the National Championship.

D.J. Miller, DB, Kent State

D.J. Miller held down the secondary for the Golden Flashes over the last two years. Before that, he spent three years at Iowa State where he appeared in 28 games and totaled 18 tackles, four pass deflections, a forced fumble, and recovered a fumble. Then, he became a regular in the Kent State secondary. Miller played in 24 games and tallied 113 tackles, seven pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, and an interception.

Michael Dowell, DB, Miami (OH)

Before spending two years with the Miami Redhawks, Michael Dowell was a member of the Michigan State Spartans secondary. In the Big Ten, Dowell appeared in 19 games (all 12 in 2021) and recorded 82 tackles, five pass breakups, and recovered a fumble for a touchdown in his third collegiate game. With Miami, Dowell played in all 26 games and added 157 tackles, 11 pass breakups, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. For good measure, he added 8.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.

American (White)

Layne Hatcher, QB, Ball State

One of the more well-traveled quarterbacks in the MAC, Layne Hatcher landed at Ball State after a few transfers. His freshman season was spent redshirting as a depth piece at Alabama. Then, he transferred to Arkansas State where he played in 32 games and threw for 7,437 yards and 65 touchdowns while completing 61.6 percent of his passes. For the 2022 season, Hatcher transferred to Texas State where he threw for 2,653 yards and 19 touchdowns in 12 games.

Last year, Hatcher only appeared in seven games and managed 582 yards and four touchdowns.

Brian Dooley, OL, Eastern Michigan

Another sixth-year player, Brian Dooley has been with Eastern Michigan ever since his freshman year in 2018. In that freshman year, he maintained a redshirt by only appearing in four games as a tight end (one catch, 20 yards). From then on, he was a regular face on the offensive line. In total, he set the program record for games played with 58.

He earned second-team all-MAC in 2022 and 2023 and third-team all-MAC in 2021. Dooley was the subject of a feel-good story prior to the year as he gave up his scholarship for a four-year walk-on. That earned him the 2023 Disney Spirit Award.

Gabriel Wallace, OL, Buffalo

Gabe Wallace spent six years in the Buffalo program. After redshirting in 2018, Wallace appeared in a total of 12 games over the next two years as a reserve tackle. Over the next three years, Wallace showed versatility. In 2021, he started two games at right tackle and 10 at guard. In 2022, he started all 13 games at left guard. Last year, he started five at left guard then seven at left tackle.

Wallace earned Third-Team All-MAC honors in each of the last two years.

Deiyantai Powell-Woods, OL, Central Michigan

A stalwart on the Central Michigan offensive line, Deiyantai Powell-Woods played in 51 games for the Chips over five years. The talented guard helped pave the way for some of the most prolific rushing attacks (notably Lew Nichols in 2021). He worked primarily as guard for the Chips.

Robi Stuart, DT, Central Michigan

Even in the era of the free COVID year, it’s rare to see a player suit up for seven seasons. Robi Stuart did just that for the Chips. In total, he appeared in 56 games and contributed 113 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and a forced fumble. He missed all of the 2021 season due to an injury as well.

Joe Sparacio, LB, Eastern Michigan

Another sixth-year player, Joe Sparacio spent four years at Boston College before making his way to Eastern Michigan. He appeared in 21 games for the Golden Eagles and recorded 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. He also added an interception in 2019. In two years with Eastern Michigan, Sparacio amassed 225 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. He also hauled in two interceptions, broke up four passes, forced three fumbles, and recovered one.

He earned second-team all-MAC honors last year.

Aljareek Malry, DB, Ball State

Aljareek Malry spent just one year with Ball State after four years at VMI. As a member of the Keydets, Malry was a star on the defensive side of the ball. He appeared in 42 games and amassed 233 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 17 pass breakups, a forced fumble, a blocked kick, two interceptions, and three sacks. Last year, Malry totaled 55 tackles, three tackles for loss, two pass breakups, and an interception.

Judson Tallandier II, DB, Akron

After four years at Pitt, Judson Tallandier came to Akron for the 2023 season. As a Pitt Panther, Talldier appeared in 42 games and accounted for 50 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and a pass breakup. Then, in 2023, Tallandier had a career year with 40 tackles, three tackles for loss, and five pass breakups for the Zips.

Davon Ferguson, DB, Bowling Green

One of the stars of a very good Bowling Green secondary for three years, Davon Ferguson started off his career at Hartnell College before spending three years at Kansas. At Hartnell, Ferguson amassed 55 tackles and two interceptions. At Kansas, Ferguson appeared in 20 games where he totaled 89 tackles, five tackles for loss, an interception, a pass breakup, and a forced fumble.

At Bowling Green, Ferguson was a star when on the field. He suffered season-ending injuries in both 2021 and 2022. In total, he appeared in 24 games for Bowling Green and amassed 126 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

Ferguson earned third-team all-MAC honors in 2023.

Walter Reynolds, DB, Ohio

Walter Reynolds spent 2023 with Ohio after five years at Holy Cross. As a member of the Crusaders, Reynolds played in 43 games and contributed 183 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 32 pass breakups, 10 interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. This past year, Reynolds started all 13 games and totaled 71 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, and two interceptions.

Keni-H Lovely, DB, Western Michigan

For five years, Keni-H Lovely called Western Michigan home. Over those five years, Lovely appeared in 42 games for the Broncos. In total, he amassed 108 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, a sack, six interceptions (one pick-six), 10 pass breakups, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries (on for a touchdown.

Lovely made the third-team all-MAC in both 2022 and 2023.