2012 Battle of Florida Game: Best, Worst Players Who Made a Name for Themselves
photo courtesy of: Miami Hearald
Saturday night over 100 prospective NFL hopefuls took the field at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida in the first annual "Battle of Florida."
The game was not only played in front of nearly 5,000 fans, but also caught the eye of over 140 scouts from 29 NFL teams, four CFL teams and an Arena Football League team.
Florida State Seminoles coaching legend Bobby Bowden coached the north team, who were victorious by the score of 51-3 over the South team coached by former University of Miami Hurricanes and Florida Atlantic University coach Howard Schnellenberger.
But in the end, the game wasn't about who won and who lost, not when it came to the score at least. Instead is was about who showed up to improve their stock in the NFL draft.
Here are some players that impressed on Saturday night, and some that didn't.
Stephen Garcia (Team North; University of South Carolina)
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The most controversial player going into Saturday's game was former Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia.
Garcia, you may remember, was kicked off of the team in October for repeated violations including testing positive for marijuana and alcohol, which violated an agreement he made to return to the school that he would not drink alcohol.
This game was a chance for Garcia to show NFL scouts what he could do on the field and potentially help him get selected in the draft.
Just based off of his yardage you would think Garcia would be a shoe-in for at least a fifth-round pick as he threw for 106 yards and two touchdowns (including a 60-yard pass play to Louisville wide receiver Josh Bellamy), however he went only 3-of-8 and most of his throws missed by plenty. Garcia definitely showed signs of rust while on the field.
An NFL team will take a chance on Garcia though since 6'2", 232-lb quarterbacks don't just fall out of the sky. For Garcia his best case scenario would be to go to a team set at quarterback already (New Orleans, Green Bay or New England) where he can not only sit and learn from one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but also gain a valuable mentor in either Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.
Garcia isn't someone I'd want to throw into the fire on a team like Washington, Miami or Cleveland, however, since the kid does need some time to mature. He has promise and can still recover from his controversial five years at South Carolina, but the onus is on him to get his stuff straight.
Jermaine Thomas (Team North; Florida State University)
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Prior to the game, Thomas was ranked 38th among running backs entering the NFL draft, but put together a good performance that should bounce him a little bit higher.
On nine attempts, Thomas rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown, averaging 8.8 yards per carry.
Thomas was used primarily as a power back. However, as he hit the holes he was able to find plenty of daylight. His longest run went for 23 yards late in the second quarter.
Thomas will likely get drafted in the mid to late sixth round. However, he made a good case on Saturday for becoming a team's power back and could be a steal in the draft.
Wes Carroll (Team South; Florida International University
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Here's someone I legitimately felt bad for during the course of the game.
Former FIU and Mississippi State quarterback Wes Carroll has quite a college resume to be proud of.
Carroll has two bowl victories between the two schools he attended and three bowl appearances, was named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2007 and will be forever known as the quarterback who along with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton helped to put Florida International (or as we call it in Miami FIU) on the map.
Yet on Saturday, Carroll just looked lost. The dual-threat quarterback wasn't much of a threat at all, going 1-of-6 passing for negative-two yards, and rushing the ball twice for four yards. He was sacked once, and on the day only netted negative-nine yards.
Carroll didn't have much of a draft stock to begin with, however, he only looked worse when he took the field.
Deonte Thompson (Team South; University of Florida)
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Team South was horrible as I'm sure the 51-3 score would indicate to anyone; however, there were a couple of bright spots.
One of those bright spots was Florida wide receiver Deonte Thompson, who finished with three catches for 24 yards as well as three kick returns for 80 yards.
Thompson showed great speed throughout the game. However, I doubt his performance will be enough to get him drafted (currently he is projected as an undrafted free agent). But he will certainly get plenty of invites to training camp from NFL teams throughout the offseason.
Jordan Delegal (Team North; Northern Illinois University)
The 6'1", 214-lb linebacker from Northern Illinois was mighty impressive on Saturday night.
Jordan Delegal recorded seven tackles, including one for a loss, to go with an interception that he returned for 29 yards as well as a pass breakup.
Delegal was all over the field on Saturday night as an integral part of the North defense, wreaking havoc on whatever the South offense would throw his way. Delegal might not be as fast as many other linebackers projected to go in the draft, but he has the tenacity and motor that would make him a great pick late in the draft and a fine addition on any team.
Marcus Dowtin (Team South; North Alabama)
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Another controversial player in the game was Marcus Dowtin, who is from Maryland, went to Georgia, then transferred to North Alabama after getting into trouble while at Georgia. Nothing there would make him "eligible" for the battle of Florida (unless they included a loophole stating that if you played in the World's Largest Cocktail party you're eligible), but it was a smart decision for Dowtin to play in the game.
Dowtin was the lone defensive bright spot for the South team, recording seven tackles including two that went for a loss. He was also active on the defensive side the whole game for the south team as the north was likely to stay away from him.
Dowtin showed first round talent, however, his troubled past might have him drafted lower. However, his attitude seems to be much more calm, more humble and his play on the field was excellent.
Marcus Dowtin will be a steal in the middle rounds, and will be a great contributor on defense for many teams, he might even be a possibility as a starter.
Kevin Elliott (Team North; Florida A&M)
Kevin Elliott's stats might not impress you. The Florida A&M wide receiver from Orlando only had one rush for 27 yards, one catch for 24 yards and two tackles, but both his rush and his touchdown catch were highlight worthy.
Elliott's running play came in the first quarter off of a reverse play. Helped out by immaculate blocking, Elliott ran down to the one to set up the second score of the game.
His lone reception was quite a beauty and came in the third quarter. Quarterback Stephen Garcia found him in the middle of the field, but the ball was thrown behind Elliot by just a bit. However, Elliott still made the catch AND avoided being tackled, then ran the ball up field for a touchdown that was a part of the north's deluge on the south.
He also had two tackles on special teams.
There were plenty of shades of Miles Austin in Kevin Elliott, as the 6'3", 205-lb wide receiver is as fast as he is strong.
Josh McGregor (Team North; Jacksonville University)
photo courtesy of judolphins.com
Josh McGregor is probably the best quarterback available in the draft that you have never heard of.
While at Jacksonville University, McGregor threw for 3,044 yards, 29 touchdowns and 17 interceptions his senior year for a quarterback rating of 150.1 (that's his college rating, to put it in NFL terms his QB rating was 96.5).
However, prior to the game, not too many fans knew about the former Jacksonville Dolphin.
Until now: let me give you a heads up on the future Green Bay Packers fifth-round draft pick that five years from now will be sure to be overpaid by a quarterback-needy team after a couple of great games that people will ask "hey, where did they find that kid?"
McGregor was the north's MVP of the Battle of Florida as he went 11-of-12 and threw for 123 yards, along with one rushing attempt that went for 27 yards. He was key in every north scoring drive in the first quarter (the only quarter he played in) as the North marched to a 27-0 lead.
At 6'2", 205 lbs, McGregor screams quarterback, he even has the perfect name for a quarterback. Everything about this kid making it into the NFL just makes sense.
He will be drafted likely by a smart team (hence the Green Bay Packers reference), he will be developed by said team. In five years, Josh McGregor will be a starter in the NFL.
And we'll just be asking "hey, where did they find that kid?"
Speaking of Jacksonville University, they were well represented by having five of their players in the game, as well as their head coach Kerwin Bell, who ran the practices for the north team and served as their offensive coordinator. Bell even got the customary Gatorade shower at the end of the game.
Look out for him in the coming years as a Division I FBS school is sure to snap up the former Florida Gators quarterback as their head coach.