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Temple, Florida International prospects to watch in the 2017 Gasparilla Bowl

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We highlight and profile the 2018 NFL draft-eligible prospects for Thursday’s Gasparilla Bowl.

Central Florida v Temple Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

We continue our coverage of bowl match-ups in the first week. So far this week, we have had back-to-back blowout victories for FAU and Louisiana Tech. Today, our focus turns to the Temple Owls of the American Athletic Conference and the Florida International Panthers of Conference USA. We return to the sunshine state for the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl taking place in Tropicana Field.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Why You Should Watch

The Temple pass rush should be fun to watch in this game against a vulnerable FIU offensive line. There will be draft eligible linebackers and wide receivers featured in this game. Especially if the 49ers decide to invest later picks at these positions.

How They Got Here

Temple had a rough start to the season and needed to win three of it’s last four games to become bowl eligible. However, the Owls did just that (6-6) and now look to bring home some hardware to Philadelphia. As for Florida International, their season under new head coach Butch Davis started on a rough note with a 61-17 defeat to the now undefeated, and Peach Bowl Bound Central Florida Knights. However, Davis rallied his troops, and in his debut season led the Panthers to an 8-4 season.

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Florida International Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Interesting Fact

This Bowl matchup will feature two first year head coaches. Coach Butch Davis of Florida International and Coach Geoff Collins of Temple.

NCAA Football: Temple at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction

Florida International can score points, however I project that this will be one of the best defenses they face all year, particularly the Owl’s pass rush. Temple is not exactly the same team from last season, but they were still second in the AAC on defense. Expect a close game, with Temple’s defense earning the Owl’s the win.

The Pick: Temple

Game Info

Bowl name: Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Teams: Temple vs Florida International
Date: Thursday, Dec. 21
Time: 5:00 p.m. PT
Location: Tropicana Field -- St. Petersburg, Florida
TV: ESPN

Top 5 Players To Watch

Sean Chandler* - CB - Temple - 6’0” - 195 lbs. (3rd)
Treyvon Williams* - LB - Florida International - 6’0” - 230 lbs. (7th)
Alex McGough - QB - Florida International - 6’3” - 218 lbs. (UDFA)
Frank Nutile - QB - Temple - 6’4” - 225 lbs. (UDFA)
Adonis Jennings - WR - Temple - 6’2” - 200 lbs. (7th-UDFA)

Player Spotlight

Sean Chandler - CB - Temple - #3

NCAA Football: Temple at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Chandler had yet another productive season for the Owls. His stats include 74 tackles, 53 solo tackles, and two interceptions. Chandler runs fluidly through his hips, and plays aggressive in man to man coverage. He is a physical presence along the line of scrimmage, and often looks to eliminate his opponent from the play, knocking the receiver off his route. A seasoned, four year player, Chandler’s arrow continues to point up. Many, including myself have Chandler valued as a day two pick. He could continue to raise his stock in tonight’s bowl game, as well as the draft process. The 49ers can use more cornerback depth, and if they are looking to address the position on day two, Chandler is someone to keep your eye on.

Treyvon Williams - LB - Florida International - #52

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Florida International Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Sure the 49ers drafted Reuben Foster, but adding depth to the linebacker position is still a priority for the team. Williams was one of the do-it-all linebackers in Conference USA this season. He led the Panthers in tackles totaling 82, and added eight tackles for a loss, and 3 sacks. Has efficient straight-line, downhill speed. He frequently was utilized in blitz designs and packages. His lateral movement is still a work in progress, and his ability in pass coverage needs some fine tuning. However, Williams finishes his tackles, hits with authority, and makes his presence known against the run. At the moment, Williams is a day three pick, however if the 49ers are looking to add depth at a position that needs it, then Williams is certainly someone to watch tonight, and on day three of the NFL Draft.