Birmingham Bowl Players To Watch
RB Patrick Taylor, Memphis: Darrell Henderson announced that he’s taking off early for the NFL, after ripping off 1,909 yards – just 91 yards away from a 2,000-yard season – with 22 touchdowns and nine 100-yard games. Taylor will be the main man bringing more thump. He ran for 1,012 yards and 15 scores, using his 6-3, 233-pound size to power away to go along with a bit of a burst.
LB Curtis Akins, Memphis: The Tigers might not play too much defense, but they have a few strong playmakers, starting with Akins, the leading tackler who made 91 tackles including a season-high 14 in the American Athletic championship game against UCF. He’s not going to get into the backfield, but he’ll always be around the ball.
QB Jamie Newman, Wake Forest: Thrown into the starting quarterback job when Sam Hartman went down with a broken leg, Newman saved the season with two wins in the last three games to get the team bowl eligible, throwing for 297 yards and three scores in the win over NC State, and hitting 78% of his passes with four touchdowns to beat Duke. Mobile, he ran for 94 yards in the two games, and tore off 73 yards and a score in the loss to Notre Dame.
CB Essang Bassey, Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons only picked off five passes as a team, but Bassey managed to do his part as one of the ACC’s better all-around corners. He can hit a bit, coming up with 71 tackles to go along with a pick and 14 broken up passes.