BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi made a strong final impression on NFL scouts to close his college career Saturday.
The Cougars' senior recorded a game-high nine tackles, seven of them solos, with three tackles for loss and a pass breakup to lead BYU's failed comeback effort in a 35-28 loss to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl. The performance gave Kaufusi 20 tackles for loss on the season.
Next stop for Kaufusi? The East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., for an all-star game where NFL scouts will gather to evaluate senior draft prospects. At 6-foot-8 and 280 pounds, he'll be easy to spot.
Here are four other things we learned Saturday in college football:
- Scooby Wright came back from a foot injury for what turned out to be his last college game. The Arizona linebacker said he will apply for early entry into the 2016 NFL Draft after piling up 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks in a 45-37 win over New Mexico in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. But will he be a top draft pick? One scout believes he'll be fortunate to be a day-two choice.
- Florida's Alex McCalister joined Wright in deciding to apply for early draft entry, but without such a storybook ending. McCalister reportedly was dismissed from the UF program, and decided the NFL was a better option than a transfer.
- McCalister wasn't the only Gators player who bolted Gainesville Saturday, but the other one is a long way from the NFL draft. Freshman quarterback Will Grier, who is serving a one-year NCAA suspension, will transfer. With NCAA transfer rules requiring players to sit out a season of eligibility at their new school, and Grier still with half a season left to go on his suspension, it could be late 2017 before he resurfaces in a game. Long wait, Will.
- After BYU's loss to Utah, the Cougars confirmed they have hired Kalani Sitake as the program's new head coach. While Sitake is a respected defensive mind with plenty of experience as a coordinator at both Utah and OSU, his defense's performance this year was downright miserable: 481.5 yards allowed per game.
Prospects to watch in Monday's Miami Beach Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN):
*Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky: *One of the more prolific passers in the nation, Doughty has thrown for 4,594 yards this season with a whopping 45 touchdowns. Is he a legit pro prospect at 6-3, 220 pounds? Or has he benefitted from a weaker Group of Five schedule? That's the question NFL scouts will be looking to answer about the Hilltoppers star, who has already earned his degree.
Tyler Higbee, TE, Western Kentucky:One of Doughty's favorite targets pulled in eight touchdown passes on the year. He's 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, but athletic enough to be a dangerous downfield receiving target. Higbee, a fifth-year senior, caught 38 passes on the yeara for 563 yards.
Sean Price, TE, South Florida:Price has caught 19 passes on the year for five touchdowns, and averages more yards per catch (15.6) than most wide receivers. He's had an especially hot receiving hand late in the season as the USF offense has begun looking his way more. Price (6-3, 252) is a senior who has set the school record for career receptions at his position (75).
Jamie Byrd, DB, South Florida:Byrd has enjoyed a huge season for the Bulls, racking up 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions. He's small (5-11, 185) but is an aggressive hitter with a good knack for run support.