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Mississippians show out in Reese’s Senior Bowl

Mississippi State's Nathaniel Watson prior to Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Watson finished with a game-high seven tackles (Photo courtesy of Reese's Senior Bowl)

Despite South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler grabbing MVP of the 2024 Senior Bowl on Saturday, four Mississippi-based players had good showings during the annual all-star game in Mobile, Ala.

Nathaniel Watson (Mississippi State), McKinley Jackson (Texas A&M/Lucedale), Cedric Johnson (Ole Miss), and Jaden Crumedy (Mississippi State) – all suiting up for the American team – combined for 11 tackles, two for loss, and one pass break-up. Watson led the group with a game-high seven tackles.

“I look to take advantage of all the opportunities that are given to me,” Watson said after the game as he continues to try to boost his NFL Draft stock. “It’s just like a family down here, just like when I went to Starkville.”

Although Watson finished with most of the stat line, Jackson and Johnson used their large frames to force a few quarterback hurries and consistently close running lanes. Crumedy was crucial to his team on a handful of possessions.

How the game played out

Rattler drove down the field for the American team and threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Georgia wide receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint with 10:46 left in the first quarter. After Alabama’s Will Reichard converted the extra point, this would be the last of any scoring for the American squad.

A few series after the initial score, Oregon quarterback Bo Nix led the National team on an eight-play scoring drive that resulted in Minnesota tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford catching a two-yard touchdown. The score was 7-7 going into halftime.

Coming back out of the gates, neither team was too aggressive on offensive as quarterback play from Tennessee’s Joe Milton (American) and Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman (National) were stopped by the opposing defenses. Hartman and company finally got something going via the rushing game as Stanford kicker Joshua Karty hit his first of three field goals to give the National team a 10-7 advantage.

Paired with Karty’s latter two kicks, two interceptions by Washington State defensive back Chau Smith-Wade sealed a 16-7 victory for the National team.

The numbers don’t lie

While the American team beat out the National team in terms of total yards (271-184) and had 10 pass break-ups, the winning team was three of five in red zone attempts compared to zero red trips for the American team. The National team also committed no turnovers in comparison to four from the American team.

On the defensive side of the ball, the National team finished with two sacks and forced four turnovers versus the American team’s lone turnover, which came in quarter one.

What’s next?

While a handful of players used Saturday’s opportunity to further impress scouts, others will have some ground to make up when the combine comes around on Feb. 29 in Indianapolis. The 2024 NFL Draft is set for April 25-27 also in Detroit.

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