The bowl-game heroics of players like C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, and Quentin Johnston are well-known, but how about some of the prospects currently projected to come off the board a little later in the draft? Below, find ten of this year’s most outstanding bowl game performances by draftable prospects currently trying to work their way up the board on the second or third days (one per position).
Stetson Bennett (QB – Georgia)
Bennett’s clutch final drive to seal a comeback victory against the Buckeyes and advance to the championship game against Texas Christian was just part of his impressive 398-yard passing performance, with four total touchdowns (including one on the ground.) He’s currently in the third-day mix despite his diminutive frame.
Frank Gore Jr. (RB – Southern Mississippi)
The son of an NFL legend, Gore set an NCAA bowl record with 329 yards in the Golden Eagles’ victory over Rice, averaging an eye-popping 15.7 yards per carry and throwing a touchdown as well. The third-year sophomore still has plenty of college eligibility remaining but may wish to cash in on his massive game.
A.T. Perry (WR – Wake Forest)
Perry was on a roll heading into the game, with eighteen receptions and four touchdowns in the two games preceding the Gasparilla Bowl. He continued to impress against Missouri, posting eleven catches on seventeen targets for 116 yards to continue pushing his way into the second-day conversation.
Sam Laporta (TE – Iowa)
LaPorta may not be the biggest tight end, but he has a polished, well-rounded game and is currently in the mix to be one of the top eight or so tight ends off the board on draft day; his five catches for 56 yards in his final game indeed helped. He currently projects as an early third-day selection.
Graham Barton (OL – Duke)
Barton played left tackle at Duke but could conceivably play anywhere on the offensive line as a pro, being slightly smaller than your typical tackle and having also played center for the Blue Devils in 2020; he dominated in pass protection in the Military Bowl, finishing 2022 having allowed just two sacks.
Kobie Turner (DL – Wake Forest)
Turner has been projected as a possible second-day pick even before the bowl game, generally playing on the ends of Wake Forest’s odd fronts, and did a lot to solidify his draft stock in the win over Missouri, picking up two tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble, and four additional pressures.
Dylan Horton (DE – Texas Christian)
One of the players currently projected anywhere from the late-second day to the middle rounds of the draft, Horton is undoubtedly working his way up draft boards after picking up four sacks in the Horned Frogs’ victory over Michigan, helping the team advance to the championship game.
Ivan Pace Jr. (LB – Cincinnati)
Pace has been one of the most consistent linebackers in college football in recent years and put an exclamation point on his first season with the Bearcats (he spent his first three seasons at Miami, OH), finishing with a season-high 17 tackles, including a sack and a forced fumble.
Jakorian Bennett (CB – Maryland)
A two-year starter who allowed just 44.4% of his targets to be completed this season, allowing no touchdowns, Bennett was impressive in Maryland’s bowl game against North Carolina St., allowing just one completion on five targets and intercepting a pass.
Ji’Ayir Brown (DB – Penn St.)
This year’s class isn’t especially deep at the safety position, and spots are up for grabs as early as the middle rounds. Brown punctuated a solid season with a dominant bowl game performance in the Nittany Lions’ win over Utah, finishing with eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, and an interception.