The 2021 college football season is over, but post-season bowls will be occurring over the next few weeks. Mountain West alums are taking part in the Tropical Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game (although the game won’t be played), the Hula Bowl, and the Senior Bowl. This post will focus on the Tropical Bowl.
These events are used primarily as camps with a game at the end. Invited players get officially measured and weighed upon checking in. Then, there are a few days of practice with NFL coaches. The practice time for players is really at the heart of these events.
This is due to the time players and coaches can spend together honing their craft collaboratively. It gives the players a chance to be looked at by coaches who know the NFL game. What better way to understand where and how to improve than to hear it from the source. Receiving this feedback can give the players an edge as they head into their training for the NFL Combine or their respective Pro-day.
Finally, and somewhat related, this gives players a chance to stand out. If a player was overshadowed on his team by other talented individuals, wasn’t featured in his offense, or in the case of those in this article, playing in a Group of 5 conference, they have the opportunity to open the eyes of the coaches with their play and jump onto the radar before draft time. While the combine and pro-days are also good opportunities for this, the more chances of coaches seeing one play and compete, the better position they put themselves in.
Only one player from the Mountain West is participating in the Tropical Bowl this year, but he is listed on both of the teams. Below we will provide a brief description of each player and illustrate what kind of showing they need to improve their draft stock. Also, if you want to learn more about the purpose and history of the Tropical Bowl, as well the person behind it all, check out our interview with Michael Quartey from last August.
Tropical Bowl Schedule:
January 15, 2021 (Friday)
- Players report and check-in
- Players get official measurements
January 16, 2021 (Saturday)
- Team meetings
- Scouts and players can have direct contact for meetings
January 17, 2021 (Sunday) (all times are Eastern)
- 10:00am – 11:00am Pre Game Warm Up/ Walk Through
- 11:00am – 1:30pm The Tropical Bowl Game (at SPEC Martin Stadium DeLand, FL)
P Tanner Kuljian (SDSU)
Special Teams players often have a straight forward path to improving their draft stock in these exposure bowls. However, their opportunities are limited, and more than any other position, it basically becomes a pass/fail type of situation.
It is no different for Kuljian. As a punter, if he punts well, he will look great. If he struggles, coaches and scouts will take notice. His job is to showcase the strength of his leg as well as the accuracy (kicking to a specific spot on the field) or understanding and ability in situations (can he pin the ball outside the goal line in short punt situations?). If Tanner can check off those boxes, he will really cement himself as one of the top punters in this draft year.
Kuljian has the stats to his name to already come in with people taking notice of him. In seven games this season, he punted the ball 28 times for a total of 1212 yards, good for a 43.3 average. Unfortunately, he only had one year as the primary punter for the Aztecs, so his sample size is small compared to others.
Note: The weaknesses or questions described about each player below aren’t necessarily the views of the contributors or site, but rather what could be questions or concerns NFL scouts or talent-elevators or the media have about them, which are still worth discussing as they can have ramifications.