Just about everyone has heard of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, The Shrine Bowl, and the NFLPA Bowl, where top college seniors looking to impress NFL scouts meet for practices and a game to try to make it to the next level.
But how many of you have heard of the HBCU Spirit of America Bowl or the Dream Bowl? If you haven’t, start to learn about it. Over the time of its existence, the two games have consistently been labeled as the 4th best college all-star game after the other 3 mentioned games. The Spirit Bowl, in it’s second year, hosts top players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to celebrate the history and culture that these schools have, and of course, give these players an opportunity to showcase their talents in front of NFL and CFL scouts, agents and GM’s. Last year, in the games inaugural event, Jylan Ware was drafted by the Oakland Raiders because of the event. On the other hand, The Dream Bowl, which just hosted it’s sixth event, focuses on the top college football players from FCS, DII, and DIII players, where it gives these players an opportunity to play in one last game, in the hopes of getting drafted to the NFL or signing with a team, or a CFL team. The Dream Bowl also was the host of many NFL and CFL scouts. The Dream Bowl has had many players get professional shots in NFL and CFL, but most notably is Chester Rogers, a starting Wide Receiver on the Indianapolis Colts. The two games, The Spirit Bowl and The Dream Bowl, are hosted on the same weekend in the same location, where every player who accepts an invitation gets the chance to participate in an NFL style combine, 4 practices in front of scouts and of course the main event is the game. This year, the games were host to somewhere between 30-40 NFL and CFL scouts.
This year, between both games, there were potentially somewhere between 5-6 players with really good shots at being drafted, and many more players who have a chance to be signing with teams right after the draft thanks to their performances at the Dream Bowl and Spirit Bowl.
The Spirit Bowl and Dream Bowl, which are both hosted by Cutting Edge Sport Management, had the best talent this year, than in any year in the past. The games are always held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend to celebrate his legacy and to follow after this iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, with the ‘Dream’ Bowl being held on MLK Day, and the Spirit Bowl being held the day before.
This year’s event was hosted in Salem, Virginia at Salem Stadium, which is also host to the DIII National Championship. In the HBCU Spirit of America Bowl, team Brave outlasted last minute efforts to tie the game by team Pride with the final score being Brave: 14, Pride: 7. Touchdowns in the game were scored by DeLance Turner (Brave/ Alcorn), Vincent Jefferies (Brave/ Florida A&M), and Chett LeVay (Pride/ Alabama State). This game was close all the way through and could’ve possibly been even tighter if it wasn’t for a game saving play by Team Brave with less than 2 minutes left, when Eldin Anu (Robert Morris) made a hit at the goal line, causing a fumble and a turnover, thus saving the game for the team. In the competitive, and spirited game, NFL scouts were pleased with the talent they saw on the field. In this game, the Offensive MVP was awarded to RB DeLance Turner (Alcorn), The Defensive MVP was awarded to LB Dakota Baer (Chowan), and the Special Teams MVP was awarded to LB Kenneth Hagins (Morehouse College). Some of the biggest standouts of the game are guys with real NFL potential. Those guys are, aforementioned RB DeLance Turner from Alcorn State (pictured below), Alabama State WR Willis White, and Bethune-Cookman WR Frank Brown. Those are just a few guys with potential to keep an eye on in April and May.
Next was The Dream Bowl. In this game team Patriots beat team Crusaders 37-24. The Patriots took a big lead in the second half after an interception returned for a touchdown by DL Billy Silke from Suny Maritime, and an 80 yard touchdown reception by Josh Crockett (pictured below) from Central Oklahoma. The Dream Bowl was a great game, with great players. The Offensive MVP, was WR Josh Crockett (Patriots/ Central Oklahoma), The Defensive MVP was DE/LB Patrick Afriyie (Patriots/ Colgate), and the Special Teams MVP was WR Gary McKnight (Crusaders/ Northeastern State). There were many young men at this game who stood out, and who have realistic NFL draft potential. I’ll start off by pointing out Offensive MVP Josh Crockett (Central Oklahoma) who is 6’2, 190 and had swarms of NFL interest this weekend at the practice facilities and at the team hotel (and certainly had more after his game performance). Josh ran a 4.51 forty on limited training and could be the games next sleeper like previously mentioned Dream Bowl Alum Chester Rogers, but maybe even as a draft pick. Next, were a few OL/DL, OL Brandon Schindler from Bemidji State and Rhode Island’s DE Jose Duncan who stood out amongst others as potential NFL prospects. One of the biggest standouts in my opinion on the defensive line was Delaware’s DT Blaine Woodson. Blaine is a big body than can fill up a lot of space in the middle and has above average pass rushing skills (had a few QB hurries in the Dream Bowl). Blaine should find himself on and NFL roster come next season. Another player was Defensive MVP DE/LB Patrick Afriyie from Colgate who played unbelievably as a pass rusher and a pass coverage LB. He is a guy who potentially can be a 6th or 7th round pick if he continues to impress scouts and teams. Next were a pair of Cornerbacks who stood out this week, Central Arkansas’ Tremon Smith, who could potentially be picked as early as the 5th or 6th round, he played out of this world and left a lot of scouts even more interested than previously. (Also wouldn’t be shocked to see him playing again in the Senior Bowl or NFLPA Bowl). Also there was Samford’s CB Omari Williams who showed up and impressed during measurables this week. He then showed it on the field. He recorded and interception in the game, and potentially can find himself as a 6th round draft pick this year. I could go on all day about players who impressed me and so many others this week, but I will leave it with those guys who stood out the most. They will all get real looks on teams draft boards and if not will get calls after the draft in undrafted free agency. The Dream Bowls best pool of players to date.
As I said, if you don’t know about these two games, get familiar with them, they are real good games with real talent, real scouts and real opportunity. I worked closely with a lot of these players over the last few months and they are all impressive young men with great heads on their shoulders who, like many, were impressed with the opportunity the Dream Bowl and Spirit Bowl gave them to achieve their dreams of playing professional football. It was a great week filled with promise and it was great to finally meet a lot of these players face to face and learn about them. For me personally, interacting with scouts and these players was one of the best experiences in my life. I’d like to give a shout out to Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting, and Neil Malvone of Cutting Edge Sport Management, who find these players, and organize this event because without them, this game wouldn’t be where it is today.
Thanks to all of the players who participated in this event and good luck in the coming months, and to the incoming seniors, give it your all, the next Dream Bowl and Spirit Bowl is only a year away.