If you have been following The Hunt Report all season long, you know that scouting never sleeps. It is always scouting season, and I love when we start getting into the part of the year where postseason all-star games start announcing their player acceptances and game rosters start to take shape.
While many are focused on the major games like the Reese's Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Bowl, true talent evaluators and scouts understand that the first game out of the gate starts this weekend in beautiful Daytona Beach, Florida with the FCS National Bowl.
The FCS National Bowl was created back in 2014 as two separate games: the FCS Bowl and the National Bowl. The former was catered to more prospects hailing from the FCS, while the latter was more for the prospects coming from the Division II, Division III, NAIA and USports ranks. Founded by former Franklin & Marshall football star Michael Quartey, Esq., both games were combined in recent years into one all-star event, where the players go through weigh-ins conducted by pro scouts and two days of practice that culminate in a game on Sunday Dec. 11.
I've gone to this event since 2014, and with this being the first all-star game out of the blocks, the attendance from scouts across the professional football gambit will be tremendous. Expect to see a lot of scouts from the NFL, CFL, USFL, XFL, IFL and ELF sprinkled about Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium this weekend.
Keep it locked on my YouTube channel, Football Gameplan, where I will provide practice video highlights and recaps, as well as player interviews from the event.
For the full FCS National Bowl rosters, click here.
Here is a look at some of the players to keep an eye on this weekend:
WR LaMartez Brooks
- College: Murray State
- Height: 6-2
- Weight: 208
Brooks is a very physical receiver and plays a physical brand of football. What I mean is that he's both physical in his approach as a receiver, from getting off press coverage, to how he plays at the catch point, to what he does after the catch in terms of breaking tackles. He's also physical on the perimeter as a blocker in the run game. The redshirt senior definitely understands where his hands are, showing comfort in catching the ball away from his body and also in traffic. He's a quarterback's dream with his catch radius. I will be looking to see if there is some position flexibility within his game, which will help with his projection as a professional player.
RB EJ Burgess
- College: Franklin Pierce
- Height: 5-11
- Weight: 220
One of the better running backs in Division II, Burgess brings tremendous burst and acceleration to the position. I like how he has the ability to hit a second or third gear to rip off long runs and make a house call. As a junior last season, Burgess ran for more than 1,200 yards with 10 rushing touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He was also able to haul in 26 receptions for 400 yards and two touchdowns. This season, the Ravens struggled on offense, so Burgess' numbers essentially halved. However, despite the numerical decline, the talent was still there and is still impressive. I'm excited to see how he competes this week in front of pro scouts, as there is a lot of interest in his game. Scouts flocked to New Hampshire this past season to watch Burgess practice and play in games. One of the best drills of an all-star practice is the RB-vs-LB 1-on-1 blitz-pickup drill. And that's where I can get a greater gauge on his ability in pass pro.
DL Tyler Tate
- College: Millersville University
- Height: 6-3
- Weight: 260
Head coach J.C. Morgan is one of the more underrated coaches in college football and has done a strong job bringing in talent to Millersville. Tate is one of those guys who has blossomed under Morgan's tutelage. This past season Tate replicated his 15.5 tackles for loss performance that he had as a junior, while also finishing with 6.5 sacks. What is impressive on tape is how stout at the point of attack he is for only a 260-pound defensive lineman who plays primarily as a 5-technique. It raises your eyebrows as an evaluator because you notice the requisite skill is there, but the upside potential is high because you recognize he's playing a bit undersized. He will be a fun study throughout the process and also this week at practice, as you get to see him matched up against some FCS offensive linemen to see where he is currently and how far the gap will be for him to close as he makes the jump to the pro ranks.
DB Kyeon Taylor
- College: Kean University
- Height: 6-2
- Weight: 198
Taylor is a fantastic Division III prospect who has a Division I frame, which instantly stands out on film. He's got proficient skills in press and off coverage, and very active -- yet patient -- with his hands as well. Over the course of his time at Kean, Taylor has picked off 10 passes and broke up another 30 in his career. Taylor is unafraid in run support and actually hits like a linebacker in that regard. I think he's got a home as more of a combo safety as a pro player. This week is going to be vital for him because of the significance of the jump in competition and athleticism he'll see out there on the field. He's got a lot of the physical and athletic traits you want to see from someone playing in the secondary in today's game.