By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Two departing seniors from the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle football team have been selected to play in the 20th annual USA Football Bowl, a college all-star game of players from across the country.
Offensive lineman Wesley Sherrill from Antioch, Tenn., and defensive end Malcolm Mitchell from Stone Mountain, Ga., will play in the game next Monday afternoon (Jan. 20) at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Birmingham, Ala. They will participate in five days of activities at the site, including a Meet the Media event Friday, an Awards Dinner Sunday night, and a pro scout day on Tuesday following the game.
The USA Football Bowl will draw top players from the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision, Division II and Division III, as well as players from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), officials said.
"I'm proud of Wesley and Malcolm and I’m excited that they have been invited to play," Golden Eagle coach Watson Brown said. “This could prove to be an outstanding opportunity for them. Both of them played important roles for us and they deserve this opportunity."
The invitation to the game came from Dennis Wilson, the president of the USA Football Network, who is serving his 23rd consecutive term as president of the Metropolitan New York Football Writers Association. The USA Professional Football Leagues Testing Combine will be held on Tuesday, featuring NFL, CFL, and AFL coaches and scouts.
Both Sherrill and Mitchell received post-season honors for their efforts in 2013, including all-OVC selection from both the Ohio Valley Conference and College Sports Madness. Sherrill finished his career with 36 starts over the past four years. Mitchell was among the OVC leaders in both quarterback sacks (7.5) and tackles-for-loss (13), finishing the year with 47 total tackles.
Each of the teams in the all-star bowl game – the Admirals and the Generals -- will have 66 players, including three quarterbacks, Wilson said.
“This will be the last hurrah for some of the players and their parents, but the more serious ones will use it as a chance to show off their skills in an effort to play professional ball, Wilson said. "These kids are all capable of getting into the NFL."
The USA Football Bowl started in 1995 as the Division III Senior All-Star Classic. It later became known as the Aztec Bowl for 10 years and was played in Mexico, Wilson said. In 2010, the event absorbed the Division II Cactus Bowl, and in 2011, NAIA, NCCAA and USCAA senior All-Americans were made eligible. Then in 2012, FCS seniors who earned All-Conference designation were added.
The bowl game has moved around the country and last year was held in Virginia, Wilson said. Virginia proved to be too cold in January, so officials began looking for a warmer climate. The USA Football Bowl will have a live online radio broadcast on the National Gridiron Network and a tape-delayed national television broadcast, Wilson said. Typically, the game is aired two days later on ESPNU and/or the NFL Channel, he said.
The Hoover Met is the former home of the Birmingham Barons minor league baseball team and serves as the site for the SEC Baseball Tournament and Hoover High School home football games. Other events that have been held at the Met include the NCAA men's soccer College Cup Final Four and the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.