Two of the biggest events in Mobile collide in a cosmic convergence on Jan. 30. While five Carnival parades will take over the streets of downtown that Saturday, thousands of fans will be screaming for touchdowns and not moonpies when the 67th annual Reese’s Senior Bowl kicks off.
The coaches and many of the players have been announced for the all-star classic at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game will start at 1:30 p.m. and be broadcast on the NFL Network.
Why was the kickoff moved up 90 minutes earlier than usual? “We wanted to accommodate our fans that want to see football and floats on the same day this year,” Executive Director Phil Savage said.
Overseeing the workouts will be coaching staffs from the Dallas Cowboys and the Jacksonville Jaguars. On Tuesday, the South squad will practice at Fairhope while the North team will drill in Mobile. Both teams will remain at Ladd-Peebles for practices on Wednesday and Thursday.
Jason Garrett, in his fifth year as the Dallas head coach, will direct the North team. Leading the South squad will be Gus Bradley, who just finished his third season in Jacksonville.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to coach in the Senior Bowl,” said Garrett, whose Cowboys own the fourth pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. “It’s a great chance to get to spend time with the best players in the country, and all the people associated with the game do a great job of hosting the coaches and personnel people from around the NFL throughout the week.”
This marks the third straight year that the Jacksonville staff will be coaching at the Senior Bowl. They led the South to a 20-10 win in 2014, but lost 34-13 last year.
“On behalf of the Jaguars, we’re excited about the opportunity to come back to Mobile and coach the Senior Bowl,” said Bradley, whose team has the fifth pick in the NFL Draft. “It provides our staff with a chance to work with the players and really get to know them, and we’ve found that to be a very beneficial part of the draft process.”
Roster filled with all-stars
The players will be divided into North and South rosters on Friday. Mobile’s own Jake Coker, a St. Paul’s alum who just directed the Alabama Crimson Tide to the national championship, will be one of the quarterbacks. KJ Maye, a wide receiver from Minnesota who graduated from Murphy, will also be playing.
The most recent list of other players who have accepted invitations to the Senior Bowl follows:
Quarterback: Brandon Allen, Arkansas; Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State; Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech; Kevin Hogan, Stanford; Cody Kessler, Southern California; Dak Prescott, Mississippi State; Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
Running back: Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech; Kenyan Drake, Alabama; Tyler Ervin, San Jose State; Aaron Green, Texas Christian; Chris Swain, Navy; Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
Fullback: Soma Vainuku, Southern California; Dan Vitale, Northwestern
Wide receiver: Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State; Leonte Carroo, Rutgers; Josh Doctson, Texas Christian; Jay Lee, Baylor; Kolby Listenbee, Texas Christian; Paul McRoberts, Southeast Missouri State; Braxton Miller, Ohio State; Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia; Chris Moore, Cincinnati; Jordan Payton, UCLA; Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Tight end: Jerell Adams, South Carolina; Glenn Gronkowski, Kansas State; Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky; Henry Krieger-Coble, Iowa; Jake McGee, Florida; Nick Vannett, Ohio State; Bryce Williams, East Carolina
Center: Jack Allen, Michigan State; Evan Boehm, Missouri; Nick Martin, Notre Dame
Offensive tackle: Vadal Alexander, LSU; Willie Beavers, Western Michigan; Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech; Joe Dahl, Washington State; Taylor Decker, Ohio State; Spencer Drango, Baylor; Joe Haeg, North Dakota State; Kyle Murphy, Stanford; Jason Spriggs, Indiana; John Theus, Georgia; Cole Toner, Harvard
Offensive guard: Josh Garnett, Stanford; Connor McGovern, Missouri; Sebastian Tretola; Arkansas; Christian Westerman, Arizona State; Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
Defensive end: Jason Fanaika, Utah; Bronson Kaufusi, BYU; Carl Nassib, Penn State; Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech; Shawn Oakman, Baylor; Sheldon Rankins, Louisville; Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky; Charles Tapper, Oklahoma; Lawrence Thomas, Michigan State; Jihad Ward, Illinois
Defensive tackle: Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; Matt Ioannidis, Temple; Quinton Jefferson, Maryland; Austin Johnson, Penn State; Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
Cornerback: James Bradberry, Samford; Maurice Canady, Virginia; Sean Davis, Maryland; Deiondré Hall, Northern Iowa; William Jackson III, Houston; Cyrus Jones, Alabama; Jonathan Jones, Auburn; Harlan Miller, Southeastern Louisiana; Jalen Mills, LSU; Eric Murray, Minnesota; Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State; Tavon Young, Temple
Outside linebacker: Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; Kyler Fackrell, Utah State; Jordan Jenkins, Georgia; Deion Jones, LSU; Joshua Perry, Ohio State; Joe Schobert, Wisconsin; Eric Striker, Oklahoma
Inside linebacker: Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Josh Forrest, Kentucky; Nick Kwiatkowski, West Virginia; Blake Martinez, Stanford; Tyler Matakevich, Temple; Antonio Morrison, Florida; Jared Norris, Utah
Safety: Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee; Jeremy Cash, Duke; K.J. Dillon, West Virginia; DeAndre Houston-Carson, William & Mary; Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah; Jordan Lucas, Penn State; Tyvis Powell, Ohio State; Darian Thompson
Punter: Riley Dixon, Syracuse; Alex Kinal, Wake Forest
Kicker: Ka’imi Fairbairn, UCLA; Ross Martin, Duke
Special events start on Wednesday, Jan. 27, with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Chick-Fil-A Senior Bowl Rally. The event is 6:30-8 p.m. at the Mobile Convention Center. The cost is $5. For more information, visit www.SouthAlabamaFCA.org.
The Coca-Cola Meet The Players session is Friday, Jan. 29, 3:30-6 p.m., also at the Mobile Convention Center. At this free event, fans get to meet their favorite players for photos and autographs. There will be two sessions, and the lineup of players will be released the previous day at www.SeniorBowl.com.
Taking place in another section of the riverside facility is the Reese’s Senior Bowl Experience, 3-6 p.m. This free event will offer a new interactive football obstacle course.
The Food For Less Tailgate Party will be game day from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The first 3,500 fans who purchase a sideline seat get a free pass. In addition to food and drink, there will be inflatable activities, clowns and the Coca-Cola Family Festival game trainer.
The Baumhower Tailgate Challenge will be at the stadium from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Started in 2004, the event judges participants on good food, originality and outstanding presentation. The winner is recognized on the field during the first half.
The University of South Alabama band will perform at the game, while the New Orleans Saintsations will return to the sidelines for a second season. Halftime will feature the Bama Air Dogs, the two-time Canine Disc National Champions, performing acrobatic disc catching.
Tickets to the game range from $10 to $30. For information, call 251-432-4109.