As we enter the depths of the offseason in college football, attention is shifting toward recruiting. In the world of the NFL, the playoffs are nearly over and eyes will slowly begin to shift toward the NFL draft and free agency. For those teams not preparing for the Super Bowl next weekend, that shift has already occurred.
As such, nearly every NFL team has had their attention on Mobile, Alabama this week. That’s the site of the annual Reese’s Senior Bowl, which takes place at 1:30 CT on Saturday. Practices have been underway all week and a pair of Hawkeyes have been looking to use those extra reps in front of scouts to up their draft stock.
The Hawkeyes in attendance are G Sean Welsh and RB Akrum Wadley. The pair make up two of the three of Hawkeye seniors invited to the game. The third, the Outlaw Josey Jewell, declined the invitation to focus his efforts on the upcoming NFL combine.
Jack Bechta, Josey Jewell's agent, on why client chose to skip Senior Bowl: "Josey is healthy. He was pretty sick during and after the Pinstripe Bowl. He lost some weight and took awhile to recover. He just wants to focus on the Combine and stand on his body of work."— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) January 23, 2018
Wadley and Welsh will compete for the North team. They’ll be joined by 14 other former Big Ten players. Indiana TE Ian Thomas is the lone conference member to be competing for the South team, which is largely comprised of ACC and SEC players. The SEC leads all conferences with 21 players participating.
Also joining the Hawkeyes on the north squad will be this year’s lone representative from D-III. Michael Joseph is a defensive back from the University of Dubuque in Iowa. He has quite a back story and will be interesting to watch compete against some of the nation’s best seniors.
Michael Joseph (Dec. 2017 graduate, B.A. in Sport Marketing and Management) of the University of Dubuque was named to the Reese’s senior Bowl as the lone representative of Division III. Joseph was never recruited out of high school and finished his prep accomplishments with just six tackles. The undersized freshman at UD did not go out for football his first year (2013). He joined the team the following year (2014) and did not see the field in any games. The next season he grew into a starting spot and earned the first of his three First Team All-Iowa Conference Honors ( 2015, 2016, 2017).
His work ethic propelled him into being named Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Defensive MVP in 2017 and collecting nearly every award for Division III. He was named the prestigious Cliff Harris Award for 2017 (first ever Division III recipient), AFCA First Team All-American, AP Little All-American, D3football.com Defensive Player of the Year, D3football.com All-West Region Defensive Player of the Year. He was atop the NCAA Division III statistics all season and finished with a school record tying eight interceptions for UD. His only kickoff return of his career, which happened in the final game of his career, he returned the ball for a 96 yard touchdown.
Wadley and Welsh have already been turning some heads in practice this week. Wadley recorded the third fastest speed for RBs yesterday at 19.3 mph. For reference, Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette is reportedly the fastest in the NFL at 19.5 mph. Wadley also recieved the Practice Award as the top RB during practices.
'18 @alabamapower Practice Awards— Reese's Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) January 26, 2018
Overall: Shaquem Griffin, UCF
QB: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
RB: Akrum Wadley, Iowa
TE/WR: James Washington, OSU
OL: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
DL: Justin Jones, NCState
LB: Kemoko Turay, Rutgers
DB: M.J. Stewart, No. Carolina
K/P: Daniel Carlson, Auburn pic.twitter.com/0E6umzvvIw
You can find the official bios for both Welsh and Wadley, as well as a wealth of other informstion about the game itself and highlights from the week of practices from the official Reese’s Senior Bowl Website.
Here’s a rundown of the game time and how to watch.
DATE: Saturday, January 27, 2018
TIME: 1:30pm CT
WHERE: Mobile, Alabama
STADIUM: Ladd-Peebles Stadium
TELEVISION: NFL Network
Best of luck to both Sean Welsh and Akrum Wadley.