The Russell Athletic Bowl should swing in favor of West Virginia, considering the Mountaineers were at least mentioned in College Football Playoff talks all season long. Mark Richt appears to be the right man for the job to revamp Miami, but the Hurricanes aren't there yet.
These two squads may not be competing for the ultimate prize in the FBS, but there will be an abundance of NFL talent on display. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya is the highest ranked prospect in the Russell Athletic Bowl, even though the Hurricanes offense struggled with consistency. Beyond Kaaya, several Miami and West Virginia prospects will get their names called in the first five rounds.
Regardless of the outcome, there's plenty of NFL talent spread across these two squads. Morgantown and Miami have always been appealing destinations for some of the nation's top recruits.
Here are the top 2017 NFL Draft prospects in the Russell Athletic Bowl:
|2||Tyler Orlosky||C||West Virginia|
|5||Rasul Douglas||CB||West Virginia|
There was a time when Kaaya looked like the top NFL quarterback prospect of the 2017 class. He was forced to learn a new offense under Richt this season, and had a below average offensive line, so his stock fell a bit. But the Miami passer is still the No. 4 QB expected to get selected in April. He has all the tools to thrive, but has shown vulnerability under pressure. At this point we don't know if Kaaya will even depart for the NFL but all indications point that way.
When you watch a Kaaya highlight reel, everything looks good. Remember, these clips usually don't show the bad, but the Hurricanes gunslinger has a great shot to succeed.
Orlosky is one of the best in the business holding down the middle of the offensive line. NFLDraftScout.com has a high evaluation of Orlosky, and even though he is a center, most draft analysts believe he will get selected in the second round.
"As a NFL prospect, Orlosky competes with the intelligence and mentality coaches look for at the center position. He has strong hands to latch-and-control at the point of attack, shooting his reach off the snap and using his vision to quickly scan the field. Orlosky is always looking for someone to block and looks to bury defenders with nasty finishing toughness."
This is high praise for a college offensive linemen — especially a center. This video was pulled from just one game, but it does a great job of summing up Orlosky's strengths up front.