PASADENA, Calif. — When teams coached by Mike Martz and Darrell Green take the field Saturday at the Rose Bowl, five Lone Star State alumni and one Texas transplant will look to make a mark in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
The University of Texas’ Armanti Foreman will join Texas A&M Commerce’s John Franklin-Myers, and Texas Christian University’s Patrick Morris and Southlake Carroll’s Kenny Hill, Jr.
Green is a two-time Super Bowl Champion, seven-time Pro Bowler, and 1996 Walter Payton Man of the Year with the Washington Redskins, and alumnus of the defunct Jessie H. Jones High School and now Jones Futures Academy.
The Houston, Texas native will guide a group of the possible stars.
According to information from its website, the 2012-founded NFLPA Collegiate Bowl provides prospective players the best opportunity to showcase their talents. Nearly 200 scouts, player personnel staff, general managers, and head coaches from all 32 NFL teams are expected be in attendance for live practices and player interviews.
The road to those events for Hill, a product of Southlake Carroll High School, has been one of ups and downs and twists and turns. He exploded in his first ever start in 2014 as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback, throwing for 511 yards and three touchdowns against South Carolina. In his first his first five starts — all wins — he threw for 17 scores against only 2 interceptions.
A series of circumstances led to a transfer to TCU and, again, a he rose to stardom. Hill led the Horned Frogs to a Valero Alamo Bowl victory against Stanford.
Morris, one of the men responsible for protecting Hill in the pocket, was the No. 2 center in the state and No. 8 nationally per Fox Sports statistics coming out of Denton Guyer High School. He played five games as a freshman in 2013, including a start at left tackle against Southern Methodist University.
During the three following seasons, he played 21 games and started in 11.
Jon Kitna, a former Martz pupil during their time together in Detroit and head coach of Waxahachie High School (TX), will be the offensive coordinator.
In successfully recruiting the 6-4, 255-pound Franklin, Stephen F. Austin State University got a defensive end big and strong enough to punish running backs but was fast enough to run on Greenville High School’s 2014 sprint relay. He registered 83 tackles and 10 quarterback sacks and 106 tackles as a senior and 13 tackles as a junior.
Four years later, the Lumberjack defensive end had almost 100 career tackles and 20 career sacks. Franklin recorded 55 total tackles and nine sacks during his senior season, led SFA in tackles for loss (8.5) as a sophomore, and tabbed 14 1/2 tackles for loss and eight sacks as a junior.
Texas City High School will see a former four-star prospect, All-District Selection, and 1,200-yard and 11 touchdown wideout step onto California’s heralded turf, too.
Despite being buried on the Longhorns depth chart, Armanti, brother of current Houston Texans’ running back D’Onta Foreman, was the team’s leading receiver in 2016. He was benched for a three-game stretch after first-year Head Coach Tom Herman questioned his practice efforts, but hauled in 31 receptions and team-high four TDs as a senior.
Armanti may have been the most important player in Texas’ 33-16 Texas Bowl win against Missouri — especially after an 18-yard touchdown run via a reverse that sent him to the end zone with 1:39 remaining in the fourth quarter.
— Hookem Football (@hornsfootball) December 28, 2017
Sam Ehlinger called him a “tremendous playmaker.”
Herman said he “deserved it by how he’s prepared and how he’s practiced.”
The 6-foot-1 and 180-pound Armanti will use both comments, as well as a resurgent season and the upcoming collegiate bowl, to build equity in a draft starving for elite wide receiver talent. Various mock drafts have him listed either falling to the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh rounds or going undrafted.
The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl could change that immensely.
Marcus Matthews-Marion is the managing editor of TexasHSFootball, covering prep football throughout the Lone Star State and collegiate and professional football throughout the country. Follow him on Twitter, @TheMJMatthews, and read more of his content here.
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