Every year, the pre-New Year’s Day college football bowl schedule is usually chock full of games that don’t arouse much excitement on a national scale. When there’s 39 bowl pairings to fill, there’s going to be a number of mediocre squads that are needed to fill up those spots.
With new bowl sponsors like Zaxby’s, Bitcoin, Duck Commander, Foster Farms and Popeyes now entering the fray, there are no shortage of contenders for the title of goofiest bowl name of the 2014 season. Still, you won’t find a bowl name this year that sounds less appealing to the average football fan than the Camellia Bowl.
Named after Alabama’s state flower—the inaugural Camellia Bowl is a game that fits into that “meh” category of bowls, pitting two average “space-filler” teams against each other.The game, which will take place tonight in Montgomery, Alabama, features a 6-6 South Alabama squad out of the Sun Belt battling a 7-6 Bowling Green team out of the MAC.
The very necessity for existence of the so-called “made-for-television bowl” is up for debate, so it’s no wonder that the matchup between two also-ran teams from non-power conferences has generated relatively no buzz.
Since ESPN has opted to televise it in prime time, though, it will end up being the proverbial “Saturday night background game” that will be on at bars and parties, but relatively few patrons will be paying much attention to it.
Still, if you’re looking for a reason to actually give a game—which on paper looks to be just another frivolous bowl between two uninteresting teams—at least a semblance of your attention tonight, then look no further than Brandon Bridge: South Alabama’s super-sized, strong-armed senior signal-caller.
Bridge has managed to fly under the radar throughout his final collegiate campaign, due in large part to his rather pedestrian statistics (52 percent completion percentage, 17 total touchdowns and 1,648 passing yards). However, he’s undoubtedly a must-watch player whose skills demand attention, and now, he finally has the stage to show off his eye-catching ability to a national prime time audience.
The erratic, yet highly athletic 6’5’’, 235-pound dual-threat playmaker is one of the most unique quarterbacks in the collegiate ranks. The Canadian native, who hails from Mississauga, Ontario, started his career at Alcorn State before transferring to South Alabama.
Once he was given the keys to the Jaguars offense at the start of the 2013 season, he quickly blossomed into a player that piqued the interest of NFL scouts.
Though still noticeably raw at this stage in his development, Bridge is the prototypical “project quarterback” who possesses rare physical gifts.
In a recent article written by Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, an AFC North scout had this to say about the intriguing QB.
“He’s as raw as he is talented. The ball shoots off his hand and he has some traits you cannot teach. I’m just not sure how naturally the game comes to him. How much better can he get? What is his football ceiling? I’m not sure. But he could end up being a bargain for a team that brings him along at his pace.”
Back in October, The Draft Insider’s Tony Pauline spoke to a league insider who said Bridge was “building a real buzz inside war rooms” while another source compared him to Colin Kaepernick.
His tremendous arm strength, coupled with his rare blend of size and athleticism makes him a quarterback that plenty of NFL offensive assistants would love to invest in and try to develop for the future.
After being overlooked, Bridge seems to be the type of prospect who is seemingly ready to rise to the forefront during the postseason phase of the evaluation process.The senior class of quarterbacks for the 2015 NFL draft lacks a true standout prospect, and it’s a group that’s already been widely panned and labeled as a weak crop. That’s good news for a player like Bridge, who will have the opportunity to set himself apart from a ho-hum field in the coming months.
He’ll have an opportunity to wow scouts at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl next month, and it’s likely that an invitation to the NFL Combine will be forthcoming.
Before that, though, Bridge will have one last chance to strut his stuff in a South Alabama uniform tonight against the Falcons.
It’s been a long journey for the Canadian native to get to the state of Alabama, so it’s only fitting that he’ll end his collegiate career in the state’s capital, guiding the Jaguars in their first ever bowl game.
Like Bridge, the first ever Camellia Bowl may be unheralded. But the game’s must-watch featured playmaker has the skills to put on a special show that should be worth watching tonight.