College football players giving up big bowls include big names

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Some of this year’s biggest bowl games will be missing many of college football’s biggest stars.

That includes Heisman Trophy winner LSU quarterback Jaden Daniels, who sat out the Tigers’ ReliaQuest Bowl game against Wisconsin.

Another All-America pick, Ohio State superstar Marvin Harrison, has yet to announce whether he will play in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri. Like Daniels, Harrison is considered one of the top prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft and will likely be a top-5 pick.

Looking at the New Year’s Six bowl lineup and the Jan. 1 games, here are the top draft prospects who decided to opt out and get an early head start on NFL life:

Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (Cotton Bowl vs. Missouri, Dec. 29)

Viewed as a generational wide receiver prospect expected to be selected near the top of next spring’s NFL draft, it seemed inevitable that Harrison would opt out. The junior, who has a season left to play, has not officially announced whether he will file for the early draft. He caught 67 passes for 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns during the regular season and finished fourth in Heisman voting. Ohio State’s unavailable list included starting middle linebacker Tommy Eichenberg.

Penn State DE Chop Robinson (Peach Bowl vs. Mississippi, Dec. 30)

Robinson was a two-time all-conference selection after transferring to Penn State from Maryland following the 2021 season. The Nittany Lions will miss his ability to wreak havoc off the edge against an opponent that ranked 15th nationally in yards per play and 13th in quarterback efficiency during the regular season. Robinson projects as a first-round pick.

Florida State, Jared Verse (Orange Bowl vs. Georgia, Dec. 30)

Verse would have landed in the first round a year ago, but opted to return for another season with the Seminoles, once again playing a huge role for a team that came close to the College Football Playoff. The former Albany transfer had 18 sacks in two seasons at FSU and should be one of the top players off the board in late April.

Florida State WR Keon Coleman (Orange Bowl)

After a productive 2022 season at Michigan State, Coleman cemented his spot as a first-round pick by leading the ACC champions in receptions (50), receiving yards (658) and touchdowns (11). Like the rest of the Seminoles’ offense, Coleman’s production has taken a sharp dip since quarterback Jordan Travis suffered a season-ending injury against North Alabama in November.

LSU QB Jayden Daniels (ReliaQuest Bowl vs. Wisconsin, Jan. 1)

Daniels made a late-season touchdown to pass Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nix to become the second LSU quarterback in five seasons to capture the Heisman. He accounted for nearly 5,000 yards of total offense and 50 touchdowns during the regular season to offset LSU’s lackluster defense and nearly lead the Tigers to a second straight New Year’s sixth bid. Sophomore Garrett Nussmeier will replace Daniels.

Oregon OL Jackson Powers-Johnson (Fiesta Bowl vs. Liberty, Jan. 1)

Powers-Johnson is one of the best interior linemen in this year’s draft class after playing a key role in one of the Bowl Subdivision’s top offenses. While the Ducks will have the Knicks under center for what is expected to be a Fiesta Bowl upset, Powers-Johnson has been a leader on that offensive front and will be hard to replace.

Oregon WR Troy Franklin (Fiesta Bowl)

Franklin arrived as an all-conference talent in 2022 (61 receptions for 891 yards), but took things to another level this season, leading the Ducks in catches (81), yards (1,383) and scores (14) to finish one of the best receiving seasons in program history. Oregon will have Tez Johnson (75 catches for 1,010 yards) against Liberty and will get a more substantial look at younger receivers Gary Bryant Jr., Kyler Kasper and Jurrion Dickey.

Tennessee QB Joe Milton III (Citrus Bowl vs. Iowa)

Milton was a late and somewhat surprising dropout heading into the game against Iowa. Considering Iowa ranks second nationally in rushing yards allowed and has allowed 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the year, it might have been a good decision. Milton’s selection opens up the starting role for true freshman and successor Niko Yamaleava, who played in four games during the regular season and retained his redshirt.

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