Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Matchup: Middle Tennessee vs. Navy
Date: Monday, Dec. 30, 11:45 a.m. (ESPN)
Prospect to Watch: MTSU S Kevin Byard
Middle Tennessee and Navy don't share a bevy of NFL draft prospects, but the best of the bunch might be MTSU's sophomore safety Kevin Byard.
After a stellar first year, Byard was named a freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America. Now a sophomore, Byard will be capping off another outstanding campaign.
The Lithonia, Ga., native led all MTSU defensive backs with 92 tackles and five interceptions, while also forcing and recovering a fumble. He also returned two picks for touchdowns.
However, as The Daily News Journal's Adam Sparks opined, Byard was snubbed when he didn't make the All-Conference USA team:
Byard was one of the conference’s best defenders at any position this season. Yet Byard was completely left off the list of C-USA all-league teams, released on Tuesday.
For those missing the math of the C-USA teams, that means Byard was not perceived as one of the top eight defensive backs in the league.
Byard had 92 tackles (ninth most in C-USA, fourth among defensive backs) and five interceptions (tied for third in C-USA) along with two picks returned for touchdowns (tied for league lead). He also had five pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.
Nonetheless, Byard has plenty of time to prove his worth as an NFL draft prospect. CBSSports.com tabbed him as the No. 4 strong safety for 2016 in its early projections.
Any draft fanatics watching the Armed Forces Bowl will want to keep an eye on Byard.