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2024 Tropical Bowl Preview

Take a look at the Mountain West players participating this weekend.

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 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 Hula Bow, the Tropical Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game, 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, 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, played 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.

This year, three players from the Mountain West are participating in the Tropical Bowl. 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 as the person behind it all, check out our interview with Michael Quartey from a few years ago.

Tropical Bowl Schedule:

Check out the schedule for the week here.

Saturday January 20, 2024 (Gameway)

Municipal Stadium3917 LPGA Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32124

12pm (ET) Kickoff


The Players:

Note: The roster, released on Monday, indicates a much larger Mountain West cohort than what is detailed here. We were not able to cover them all here, but will attempt to include more in the stock report. Traditionally, we go off of what players, teams, or the bowl itself announces on Twitter. Also, it is unknown which players are practice-only and which are competing in the games.

LS Nick D’ambra (Fresno State)

(provided by Matt)

The best thing that a long snapper can do is be anonymous on the field, and Nick D’ambra accomplished that in his single season in Fresno. I do mean that in the best way possible, because it means that he didn’t make mistakes on the field. He was pretty well perfect in his duties all season, and helped to anchor a special teams unit that was breaking in a new kicker this season. Special teams players can be hard to predict, but the fact that he’s been invited to a postseason showcase proves that he has done a great job at Western Illinois and at Fresno State.

OL Tyrone Sampson Jr (Fresno State)

(provided by Matt)

This one is hard to project, if I’m honest. He came to Fresno St as a 4* Army All-American recruit but never really cracked the starting lineup. He played sparingly in the lineup and tested the waters of the transfer portal before 2022 before Tedford’s return. Whether his lack of progression was because of the constant OL Coach turnover (basically an annual tradition in Fresno), or because he just didn’t have the skills remains to be seen. I guess that’s the one plus to these All-Star games since we can really see what he can do. Maybe he’ll really impress and blow the scouts away, or we’ll get more evidence as to why he couldn’t crack the starting rotation in his 5 years on campus.

DL William Green (Nevada)

(provided by Dom)

It’s going to be all about reps for William Green. The defensive lineman didn’t see any action with Nevada in his sixth year and appeared in nine games in 2022. Green has done great at collecting tackles when he gets playing time, including recording 21 tackles in his first season at Georgia Military. He saw time with Liberty in 2020, helping its 11th-ranked defense. In his one year of playing time with Nevada, Green recorded two sacks and eight tackles. Both sacks came against San Jose State followed by another two-tackle game against Boise State.

DB Jaden Dedman (Nevada)

(provided by Dom)

Dedman was a rarity in college football, playing all six of his seasons with Nevada. He emerged into the starting role starting in 2022, and the cornerback has been a staple of an improving Nevada defense. In 2023, Dedman finished the year with 33 total tackles (24 solo) one tackle for loss and one sack in all 12 games. He finishes his college career with 104 total tackles (75 solo) 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and 13 passes defensed. He possesses leadership qualities and should have no problem showing off in this one.

DB Chase Williams (San Jose State)

(provided by Vic)

6’1” 200 lb. safety Chase Williams was part of San Jose State’s defense that was ranked second in total defense and fourth in total pass defense in the conference. Along with stalwart safety Tre Jenkins, Williams was a very consistent and dependable cornerstone of the Spartan defense that led to an incredible 2023 run last season for the Spartans.

Three main things characterize Williams in terms of his college career and NFL potential: discipline, leadership and reliability - all qualities leading to continued growth and coachability into the next level. Coming out of high school, Williams was a highly-ranked cornerback who landed at USC in 2018 before transferring to SJSU for the 2022 season. Williams had 40+ tackles his last three years and has shown real-time field knowledge and leadership to be that additional “coach-on-the-field.” Considered a student of the game, Williams also has the size and athleticism to reach the next level. But therein is the million-dollar question for all next-level candidates: can Williams execute against bigger, faster bodies and more exotic schemes and concepts. Williams certainly has the mentality and intelligence for the transition.

WR Ayir Asante (Wyoming)

(provided by Mike)

Ayir had limited production in the run-heavy Cowboy offense, but he made it count. 6 of his 21 receptions last season went for touchdowns and he averaged 17.7 yards per catch. For his college career, Asante found the endzone 17 times, which is sneaky impressive production. If he can show that same knack for the endzone at the Tropical Bowl, it may answer questions about his size and prove that he can produce in a system that features a more prominent passing game.