So, is everyone ready to get back to football?
I hope so, because Bowl Season is starting to ramp up as we approach New Years and the College Football Playoffs. And with the New York Giants all but securing a top five draft choice, we should be paying attention.
Cactus Bowl: UCLA vs. Kansas State
ESPN - 9 p.m.
On paper the Cactus Bowl should be all about a single player — UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.
From a draft perspective, while Rosen has yet to confirm that he is declaring for the 2018 draft (he is an underclassman), he has already made waves by saying that he would rather play for the Giants than the Cleveland Browns.
"I'd rather be a lower pick at the right team than a higher one at the wrong team,'' Rosen said Tuesday, per Josh Weinfuss, reinforcing an earlier report from Adam Schefter.
Privately, Rosen has expressed concern about winding up in Cleveland and would rather be with a more stable franchise, such as the Giants.
Rosen plans to sit down with his parents after the Cactus Bowl for a "serious conversation" before making a final decision about whether to turn pro. Whether Cleveland has the No. 1 overall pick could influence his decision, according to a source.
Should both underclassman quarterbacks declare, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold are vying for the title of top quarterback in the draft class among media evaluators. And this game could, along with the Cotton Bowl between USC and Ohio State, be used to help differentiate the two.
However, Rosen might not play tonight.
In recent years it has become a trend for top prospects to skip their respective bowl games. It is certainly controversial — among NFL teams, NCAA teams, the media, and players themselves — but the argument is that players who are anticipating making the next step in their football careers shouldn’t bother with Bowl Games that are, essentially, exhibition games.
Rosen might be the next top prospect to not play in a bowl game, but it should also be noted that if Rosen misses the Cactus Bowl, it might not be his choice. Rosen is, reportedly, dealing with concussion symptoms.
Like Darnold, Rosen would certainly like to end 2017 on a strong note after a disappointing season. Throwing for 3,717 yards, (62.5 completion percentage), 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, Rosen’s season certainly wasn’t up to expectations. He is, however, is reportedly being held out of the game by the medical staff and will make his decision regarding the NFL draft at some point after the game.
Complicating matters there is the arrival of Chip Kelly, replacing former HC Jim Mora. Rosen is regarded as a bright young man and he will certainly take his fit in Kelly’s high-octane offense (and with Kelly the coach) into consideration when making his decision.
In the absence of Rosen, UCLA center Scott Quessenberry might be the top prospect on the field.
Scott is the younger brother of Houston Texans’ offensive tackle David Quessenberry, who made his long-awaited debut in the NFL on Christmas Day after a three-year battle to overcome non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The younger Quessenberry is a tough blocker with solid awareness and movement skills. He likely isn’t a high pick, but could surprise and carve out a job as a solid back-up or potentially start given the right opportunity.
Safety Kendall Adams is probably Kansas State’s best prospect. He might miss the game with a foot injury, but he has the upside to appeal to defenses as a box safety. Listed at 6’1,” 221 pounds, Adams has the size to be an enforcer in the tackle box. Over the last three years he has had 163 total tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 5 interceptions, 4 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, and a touchdown.