I’ve been pretty complimentary of the things Craig Redd and Jose Jefferson are doing with the College Gridiron Showcase, an event that will give ’16 draft hopefuls an audience with NFL scouts without breaking the game’s bank. Still, Craig and Jose aren’t the only ones trying to give young players a platform.
Michael Quartey ran the FCS National Bowl earlier this month. Though the players participating must cover a game fee (around $600) plus their travel, there were 13 NFL teams in attendance for a contest that featured the Dolphins’ placekicker, Rensselaer Tech’s Andrew Franks, last year. This month, he’s back with another chance for players to impress with the first-ever Tropic Bowl next month in Miami. What’s interesting is that Michael isn’t content to run the game with his own expertise and contacts. He’s brought in former NFL and CFL scout Ken Moll as well as Austin Atkinson, who was formerly a central part of the hugely successful Medal of Honor Bowl in Charleston, SC, which just converted to a traditional bowl format.
I sent Michael a few questions this weekend, and he responded with the answers. I’ve gotten several agents who’ve been asking about the contest, so I thought I’d present those answers here.
Let’s start with the name of the game, its location, its format (just practices? Combine included? Game too?), and how many players will be participating.
“The FBS-level Tropic Bowl all-star game will take place Sunday, Jan. 17, at 1 p.m. at North Miami Athletic Stadium in Miami, Fla. The practice schedule will be the same as our FCS Bowl, and includes two days of practices and one game day starting Friday, Jan. 15, with practice at Florida International University’s (FIU) practice field, a grass surface.
“There is no combine included with the Tropic Bowl. Approximately 80-100 players will participate in the game, and our coaches have been with us for 5-plus years, so they will keep implementing a quick-learning playbook that has helped many of our other alumni get into camps.”
What is your football background and background organizing and running all-star games?
“East Preps is going into its seventh year of putting on successful all-star games and combines. I’m a former certified NFL contract advisor for a number of years and have organized the National Bowl and FCS Bowl at FIU, which had 13 NFL teams in attendance last week at FIU Stadium.”
What will be covered by the game’s organizers? (food, lodging, travel, jerseys, etc.)
“The Tropic Bowl will cover the three-day event, including food and game jersey but not travel to the game or lodging while here. Also, equipment will not be provided. We are not a big-budget game, and compared to the rising costs of player representation and training, booking a flight and a hotel room for the player to get some more film and to be scouted is minimal compared to the potential gains.”
How many NFL team commitments do you have? How many do you expect?
“We just had 13 NFL teams at our FCS / National Bowl and have just finalized our staff including experienced Deputy Director of Player Personnel Austin Atkinson of the Medal of Honor Bowl, along with 13-year NFL scout Ken Moll, so we will start getting commitments from teams starting Tuesday as we send info to the league. Although it’s our first year, we expect a decent turnout of scouts. We already have some great player commitments, and NFL scouts will only need to travel to Florida three days before the East-West Shrine Game reporting day (in St. Petersburg, Fla.).”
How does this game differ from the FCS/National Bowls that you ran in December?
“Our FCS / National Bowl featured top talent from Non-FBS Schools and is not a sponsored event. The Tropic Bowl is partially sponsored by NFL Draft Blitz and our training partner, Genetics Athletics. The game will not be held at FIU Stadium in order to keep the game costs lower and make the game sustainable to grow over time. Hopefully, we can grow our sponsorship in the next five years for this game.”
Why should a player attend your game over the other bowl games?
“In a time where bowl games open and close regularly, the Tropic Bowl will give players an opportunity to get scouted and interviewed and play in a great game with players from across the country, and there is no fee for FBS-level players. If a players plays, lives, or trains in Florida, it is a big plus, as it’s a short drive away. The Tropic Bowl will not be about bells and whistles, but rather players getting film, getting scouted, getting interviewed, and just playing football!”
For agents who don’t like to think outside the box, this might not be the right game. But for other contract advisors (and their clients) who are willing to take a small risk, this might be just the right opportunity. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 609-367-2911.