Four Ohio State football players had a chance to wear their Buckeye helmets for one final audition in a game setting in front of pro scouts Saturday at the Senior Bowl. The South Team defeated the North, 27-16.
Adolphus Washington, Nick Vannett, Braxton Miller and Tyvis Powell played for the North at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, while former Buckeye Noah Spence patrolled the defensive line for the South. Linebacker Joshua Perry sat out with a groin injury he suffered earlier in the week.
No Buckeye scored Saturday, but most players — Spence especially — received rave reviews from draft analysts on NFL Network either for their work in practice this past week or the game.
Braxton Miller – Wide Receiver
Miller had a rough start, dropping a pass in the flat thrown by North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz on the North's first drive. But the former Buckeye quarterback turned wide receiver showed his skills not only on the outside, but as a runner and returner. He finished with two catches for eight yards, one rush for five, returned a kickoff 31 yards and also a punt for two more.
Miller nearly scored twice. He forced a pass interference penalty on Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones in the corner of the end zone on a fade route, then had a pass from USC quarterback Cody Kessler go off his hands after it was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Ohio State WR Braxton Miller gets open in the end zone but ball is tipped at LOS and falls incomplete https://t.co/oGDHp8Zyet— Eric Seger (@EricSeger33) January 30, 2016
Nick Vannett – Tight End
The Ohio State tight end had the best statistical day of all Buckeyes, snagging three passes for 58 yards to lead the North Team in receiving.
Nick Vannett all up in your secondary https://t.co/hDlSQjUzva— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) January 30, 2016
Vannett earned praise from NFL Network analysts Charles Davis and Mike Mayock during the broadcast, both for his hands over the middle and work in practice this week. They both said he was one of the most consistent pass-catchers in Mobile.
Adolphus Washington – Defensive Tackle
Washington didn't make much noise until late in the fourth quarter, when he exploded into the backfield to tackle Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington for a five-yard loss.
Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington tackle for loss https://t.co/fxKH4cIcCE— Eric Seger (@EricSeger33) January 30, 2016
Washington missed his final game as a Buckeye after Urban Meyer suspended him for the Fiesta Bowl following a solicitation citation, so the week was essential for his draft stock. Mayock named Washington among the defensive players he thought made some money this week during Senior Bowl prep.
"Every day that ends with a 'y' this week, nobody can block him," Mayock said of Washington.
Tyvis Powell – Safety
Powell didn't hear his name called much Saturday, but finished with three tackles. He also was pointed out by Davis and Mayock as the key player to thwart a flea-flicker attempt by the South Team.
Powell staying deep forced Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen to scramble on the play, which was eventually called back due to a holding penalty.
Noah Spence – Defensive End
The former Buckeye turned Eastern Kentucky Colonel was a dominant presence on the South's defensive line, recording two tackles and a sack of Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan.
Field analyst Daniel Jeremiah said no other player on the defensive line in the Senior Bowl rivaled Spence's athleticism. His performance in Mobile this week helped him immensely before the draft, especially considering his drug history and exit from Ohio State.
Former Ohio State DE Noah Spence getting some love at the Senior Bowl. Spence with one sack, two tackles thus far: pic.twitter.com/6Fb7yi7kyR— Eric Seger (@EricSeger33) January 30, 2016
Spence spent the majority of his time on the field in the North Team's offensive backfield, showing the talent that made him a five-star prospect and 2013 first team All-Big Ten performer.
- Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott earned Most Outstanding Player honors after throwing for 61 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 13 yards on three carries.
- Michigan State wide receiver Aaron Burbridge caught a Hail Mary from Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskel on the final play of the game from 29 yards out.
- Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert returned a blocked field goal 73 yards to the South's 5-yard line in the third quarter.
- The game was played in four 15-minute quarters, with the final two minutes of each stanza being "two-minute drill" style, where quarterbacks had to use a hurry up offense to try and get points on the board. The ball switched hands at the end of each quarter.
- Mayock said Ohio State could have "seven or eight" players go in the top 50 selections of the NFL Draft. He called quarterback Cardale Jones a wild card.