PHILADELPHIA – Many young men across the country saw their dreams come true as their names were announced at the 2017 NFL Draft held in Philadelphia, April 28-30, including 17 former college student-athletes who played in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
As many in the El Paso community are aware, the first round featured three players getting selected by their new NFL teams who played in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Chicago Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky, former North Carolina quarterback, as the No. 2 overall pick. Stanford’s star defensive lineman, Solomon Thomas, was selected as the No. 3 pick overall by the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Hurricanes former tight end David Njoku was chosen at No. 29 overall by the Cleveland Browns.
What some might not be aware of are the other 14 players who saw action in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Those NFL draftees include three defensive players from UCLA, which faced Virginia Tech on Dec. 31, 2013 with the Bruins winning 42-12. The third round picks from UCLA are cornerback Fabian Moreau, who went to the Washington Redskins and Eddie Vanderdoes, who was chosen by the Oakland Raiders. Nazair Jones from North Carolina, who was picked by the Seattle Seahawks, also went in the third round.
Jones was the 2016 Jimmy Rogers Jr. Most Valuable lineman after recording five solo tackles, three assisted tackles, one sack for a loss of seven yards and two tackles for a loss of 14 yards as the Tar Heels dropped an exciting Hyundai Sun Bowl, 25-23.
“Our bowl game continues to bring in some of the best talent from across the nation,” said Hyundai Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas.
During the 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl, Mitch Trubisky completed 23-of-39 pass attempts for 280 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Trubisky set UNC single-season records for touchdown passes (30) and total offense (4,056 yards) in 2016. Trubisky finished the season with just six interceptions, but all six came in UNC losses.
Stanford’s defensive lineman and Texas product Solomon Thomas preserved the victory. Saving his best for last, he sacked Tar Heel quarterback Mitch Trubisky on a two-point conversion attempt with 25 seconds left. Thomas finished with seven tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss, and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Njoku played for the Miami Hurricanes and participated in the 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl, making one catch during the 20-14 loss to the Washington State Cougars. At 6’4” 246lbs, Njoku has great size for the position as he moves to the next level. Couple that with explosive athleticism, and it’s easy to see why teams had him rated highly, and why the Browns ended up taking him in the first round.
Former Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was taken in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions. Kaaya threw for 219 yards on 17-of-31 passing while throwing one touchdown pass during the 20-14 loss to the Washington State Cougars during the 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Mark your calendars to watch future NFL players in the 2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl on Friday, Dec. 29 at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas.
Players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft who also played in the Hyundai Sun Bowl:
(Players listed by round. Included is the player’s name, position, college attended and NFL team)
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina, CHICAGO BEARS
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford, SAN FRANSICO 49ERS
David Njoku, TE, Miami, CLEVELAND BROWNS
Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA, WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA, OAKLAND RAIDERS
Nazair Jones, DL, UCLA, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Miami, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina, DALLAS COWBOYS
Corn Elder, CB, Miami, CAROLINA PANTHERS
Jayon Brown, LB, UCLA, TENNESSEE TITANS
T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina, ARIZONA CARDINALS
Chuck Clark, DB, Virginia Tech, BALTIMORE RAVENS
Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami, DETROIT LIONS
Stacy Coley, WR, Miami, MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Shalom Luani, S, Washington State, OAKLAND RAIDERS
Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina, OAKLAND RAIDERS