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Mason's Prospect Guide: Players to watch in this weekend's bowls

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SATURDAY, DEC. 23

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

Texas Tech (6-6) vs. South Florida (9-2)

Time:10 a.m. MST
*Site: *Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
*
TV: *ESPN

USF QB Quinton Flowers:At 6 feet tall and 210 pounds, Flowers doesn't check off any of the boxes regarding measurables, and the offense he ran often asked him to run before he threw. His career completion percentage of 57.9 will not be good enough at the next level. But in the past three years, he emerged as the program's unquestioned leader, and despite carrying the burden for the offense, he rarely made crucial mistakes. He improved his touchdown-to-interception ratio each season, and if he runs for 28 yards Saturday, he will post his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season to go along with two seasons in which he has averaged more than 215 passing yards per game. Most schools that recruited Flowers wanted him to switch to the defensive backfield. He signed with USF because it gave him a chance to play quarterback, and he should get an opportunity in some team's camp next summer.

USF CB Deatrick Nichols:The 5-foot-10, 189-pound cornerback is headed for the East-West Shrine Game after earning first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors this season. Nichols is quick to react when the ball is thrown in his direction; he intercepted 11 passes over the last three seasons -- with at least three in each of those campaigns -- with 34 passes defensed and 13.5 tackles for loss.

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Texas Tech QB Nic Shimonek:Shimonek will join Flowers in next month's East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida. He stepped in for 2017 first-round pick Patrick Mahomes and ensured there was little drop-off for the Red Raiders at the position, racking up 3,547 yards and 30 touchdown passes this season.

LOCKHEED MARTIN ARMED FORCES BOWL

San Diego State (10-2) vs. Army (9-3)

Time:1:30 p.m. MST
*Site: *Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
*
TV: *ESPN

San Diego State WR Mikah Holder:Holder will play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl after leading the Aztecs with 602 yards on 43 receptions. No other SDSU receiving target had more than 20 catches or 300 yards as the offense was focused on the ground.

San Diego State CB Kameron Kelly:The Senior Bowl-bound Kelly made the transition from safety to cornerback this season and fared remarkably well. He didn't allow a touchdown until the Aztecs' 11th game of the season. He could end up projecting as a safety who has the flexibility to work as a No. 3 cornerback.

San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny:A first-team All-American, Penny will play in the Senior Bowl after capping his career by earning Mountain West Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year honors. In addition to averaging 7.4 yards per rush in gaining 2,027 yards on 275 attempts, he also averaged 30.6 yards on 15 kickoff returns. He returned 79 kickoffs in four seasons, posting a 30.2-yard average. He also had a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown this season -- one of just two punts he returned for the Aztecs. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Penny may not have the best timed speed at the Combine, but his vision and decisive cuts allow him to pick up plenty of yards in a hurry.

Army OT Brett Toth:An outstanding run blocker in an offense that must succeed on the ground or gradually choke to death, Toth will have to add bulk to succeed at the next level, as he carries 259 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame. His military service commitment ensures a team will have to be patient, but if he can hit the weight room while he serves in the U.S. Army and maintains his quickness, he could follow in the footsteps of Steelers Pro Bowler Alejandro Villanueva, who gained 40 pounds during his first camp after serving in the Army and moved from tight end to tackle.

DOLLAR GENERAL BOWL

Appalachian State (8-4) vs. Toledo (11-2)

Time:5 p.m. MST
*Site: *Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
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TV: *ESPN

Appalachian State G Colby Gossett:The core of the Mountaineers' success this season was their offensive line, and Gossett is perhaps the best prospect in the unit. The 6-foot-6, 315-pounder is a mauler in the run game and has been consistently successful as a four-year starter.

Toledo RB Terry Swanson:Swanson never failed to average at least 5.0 yards per carry for any of his seasons at Toledo. This year, he averaged 5.7 yards per rush en route to a 1,319-yard, 14-touchdown season.

Toledo LB Ja'Wuan Woodley:The 5-foot-11, 228-pound Woodley is a three-year starter who is also one of the best coverage linebackers among Group of Five schools. Woodley can cover a lot of ground and is an instinctive player who can make plays from sideline to sideline.

Toledo QB Logan Woodside:The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder could be worth a late-round or college-free-agent flyer after rewriting the Rockets' record book. He holds school records for passing yards (10,390) and touchdown passes (93) and was selected as the Mid-American Conference's Offensive Player of the Year this season. His passer rating -- using the college calculation -- is the third-best in FBS.

SUNDAY, DEC. 24

HAWAI'I BOWL

Fresno State (9-4) vs. Houston (7-4)

Time:6:30 p.m. MST
*Site: *Aloha Stadium, Honolulu
*
TV: *ESPN

Fresno State edge rusher Tobenna Okeke:One of the Mountain West Conference's most consistent pass rushers this year, Okeke was credited by Pro Football Focus with multiple quarterback hurries in eight of the Bulldogs' last 10 games, including three in their conference-championship loss to Boise State. Okeke is also solid against the run.

Houston WR Steven Dunbar:The 6-foot-3, 202-pounder will play in the East-West Shrine Game after catching 66 passes for 873 yards and three touchdowns this season. Dunbar doesn't have high top-end speed, but is good at making catches in traffic and will adjust well to the ball in flight.

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