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Six Camellia Bowl Alums Taken in NFL Draft

Posted April 29, 2020
Darrynton evans draft

Six players with Camellia Bowl ties were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, the most ever selected in one draft.

The six players join 11 players selected in the previous four NFL drafts and include two players who participated in the 2019 game at Cramton Bowl.

Florida International quarterback James Morgan and cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver were among five players selected on Saturday, joining third-round pick Darrynton Evans from Friday.

Evans, a redshirt junior tailback, was selected with the 93rd pick in the third round by the Tennessee Titans. Evans played on special teams when he appeared in Cramton Bowl in 2016 as a true freshman, setting a bowl record with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Toledo.

Evans was the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 after leading the league in rushing in 2018. He was a two-time Sun Belt Championship Game most valuable player and was the most valuable player of the New Orleans Bowl in December. At the NFL Combine, Evans ranked fourth overall in RB athleticism with a 4.41 40-yard dash time that was second among running backs.

After the Camellia Bowl appearance, Evans sat out 2017 with an injury and returned as a redshirt sophomore in 2018 to rush for a league-best 1,187 yards after taking over for the injured Jalin Moore as the starter in Game Five.

He was joined by teammate Akeem Davis-Gaither, the first player selected on Saturday. Davis-Gaither, who made one tackle in a reserve role in the 2016 Camellia Bowl against Toledo, was taken with the 107th pick by the Bengals.

Davis-Gaither was the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year this past season and an all-conference selection after recording 104 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, eight PBUs, one interception and a blocked field goal. He was the team captain on the first Sun Belt program to win 13 games this past season.

Morgan was also selected in the fourth round with the 125th pick by the Jets. Morgan, a Green Bay native who transferred from Bowling Green early in his career, completed 22 of 38 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions as the starting quarterback last December against Arkansas State.

He finished his career with 10 school records, including three he set in the Camellia Bowl for passing yards, most completions and longest pass. He also finished with the highest pass efficiency in school history after setting school records a season earlier for most passing touchdowns and total offense average.

Georgia Southern cornerback Kindle Vildor was taken with the 163rd pick in the fifth round by the Bears. Vildor, a starting cornerback against Eastern Michigan in the 2018 Camellia Bowl, made three tackles in that game.

Vildor, an all-conference selection, had 27 tackles, including 3.0 for loss, to go along with two interceptions and six pass breakups.

His teammate, kicker Tyler Bass, was selected with the 188th pick in the sixth round by the Bills. Bass kicked the game-winning field goal in the 2018 game and recorded a then-bowl record 11 points against Eastern Michigan. He made a school-record 20 field goals this past season and all 36 extra-point attempts.

Thomas-Oliver was selected in the seventh round with the 221st pick by the Panthers. Thomas-Oliver was the third leading tackler in the 2019 Camellia Bowl with seven stops along with a sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup against Arkansas State.

He played receiver early in his career but made the switch to defensive back prior to his junior season and started turning heads.  He had 54 tackles this past season, along with a team-high eight pass breakups.

Appalachian State defensive end Ronald Blair was the first Camellia Bowl alumnus drafted, going to the San Francisco 49ers with the 142nd pick in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.

In 2017, a trio of Toledo players were taken, starting with running back Kareem Hunt by the Vikings in the third round, followed by tight end Michael Roberts (Lions) in the fourth round and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester (Raiders) in the seventh round.

In 2018, Appalachian State guard Colby Gossett was selected by the Vikings in the sixth round, followed by a trio of players in the seventh round: Ohio linebacker Quentin Poling (Dolphins), Middle Tennessee receiver Richie James (49ers) and Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside (Bengals).

Last year, three more Camellia Bowl stars were taken, starting with third-round pick Diontae Johnson, a Toledo receiver selected by the Steelers. In the fourth round, Eastern Michigan defensive end Maxx Crosby was drafted by the Raiders and in the sixth round, Toledo cornerback Ka’Dar Hollman was picked by the Packers.