The Senior Bowl marks the absolute end of the college football season. This annual “classic” in Mobile is a showcase for college seniors to audition for the NFL. Three Penn Staters displayed their talents in this year’s edition: Tamba Hali, Anwar Phillips, and Michael Robinson.
Tamba Hali had been projected to be a mid-first round draft pick and he did nothing to damage his chances yesterday, delivering two sacks and sharing defensive MVP honors. He delivered a solid performance at defensive end, although he might be a bit undersized at the position for the NFL. There was some talk of making him a linebacker. In any case, his prospects are the best of those Nittany Lions who participated in the Senior Bowl.
Although Anwar Phillips had an interception, he did not show himself off well in pass coverage. His practices during the week leading up to the Senior Bowl were lackluster as well. He will probably have to wait for Day 2 of the NFL draft.
Michael Robinson is an enigma. He wants to play quarterback in the NFL, but he is realistic enough to know that he will probably not receive any interest if he insists on being the signal caller. The passing weaknesses that we have seen during his season as starting quarterback were glaringly obvious in his Senior Bowl performance: inaccurate passing, inability to find secondary receivers, pulling down and running too quickly, and releasing the ball at a low point that encourages it being batted down. On the other hand, when Robinson tucks the ball away and runs, he is impressive. He led two touchdown drives on his feet, delivering 63 yards on nine carries. NFL scouts and media analysts are mixed on whether Robinson is NFL material. If he is drafted, it will be late on Day 2, but not as a quarterback. Everybody agrees that Robinson is a superior athlete and a tough football player, but none of the pundits seem to be quite clear on where he would fit in the NFL. They were even talking about the possibility of converting him to a defensive safety.
Oh, I didn’t give you the score. The North won, 31-14. Who cares about that? I don’t know what the “north” is when Clemson, USC, Virginia, and Vanderbilt are deemed to be from it, while Tennessee and UCLA remain in the south. By the way, the three Nittany Lions played for the North squad, coached by Jeff Fisher of the NFL Tennessee Titans (of the AFC South). The South was coached by Dick Nolan of the NORTHern California San Francisco 49ers and his staff, including offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
There was one more Penn State “highlight.” As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter with victory assured for the North, the hackneyed tradition of delivering a Gatorade shower to the head coach appeared to have been executed by the Nittany Lion trio of Hali, Phillips, and Robinson. While the camera did not capture them in flagrante delicto, it nevertheless caught the three of them engaging in a suspiciously conspiratorial celebration before it quickly cut to a dripping Jeff Fisher. It is not known what effect this will have on their NFL draft possibilities.
The NFL draft will take place on April 29-30, in New York City.