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5 Takeaways from 2022 Reese's Senior Bowl


That's a wrap for the 73rd annual Reese's Senior Bowl.

The 2022 installment of the college all-star game hosted on the University of South Alabama's campus in Mobile, Alabama, ended with a 20-10 win by the National team over the American team.

The National squad was coached by the New York Jets, with tight ends coach Ron Middleton being promoted by Head Coach Robert Saleh to lead the squad.

The American squad was coached by the Detroit Lions, with Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Duce Staley being tasked by Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell to lead the squad.

Middleton was showered with one cooler that contained Reese's peanut butter cups and another that contained Gatorade.

The week included three days of practices — Tuesday was mostly sunny, Wednesday was mostly rainy, and Thursday was beneath a pavilion with winds cutting through the structure's openings.

The week also included valuable opportunities for personnel departments to conduct formal and informal interviews with more than 100 prospects.

Here are five takeaways from Saturday's game, which uses modified rules.

Rules Refresher

The only two kickoffs occur to start each half. The other possessions after scores begin at the 25-yard line.

Every quarter has a 2-minute warning, and each team can use up to two timeouts per quarter.

Possession changes occur at the end of each quarter.

1. Boy, oh Boye

University of Minnesota defensive end Boye Mafe made his mark on the game, working both ends of the defensive line.

Mafe recorded 2.0 sacks and a separate quarterback pressure on a play that ended with a sack by Oklahoma defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey. Mafe also registered a tackle for loss on a run in the red zone. The native of Golden Valley's first sack forced a fumble by North Carolina QB Sam Howell.

The former Hopkins High School star's second sack was a takedown of Western Kentucky's Bailey Zappe in the third quarter.

We caught up with Mafe (his former Gophers teammate Daniel Faalele and Minnesota native Matt Waletzko) earlier in the week during the media breakfast.

Faalele, a native of Australia, started at right tackle for the National team, and was handed the ball to spike it after a 20-yard touchdown reception by Baylor running back Abram Smith.

Waletzko, a Cold Spring native who played for Rocori before heading to North Dakota, opened the second half at left tackle for the National team. He made a key block on the first play of the second half, which resulted in a 10-yard reception.

2. Multiple QBs put mobility in Mobile

Liberty quarterback Malik Willis started for the American squad and was the first to show his mobility. Willis scrambled multiple times, eluding defenders to avoid losses and finishing with a game-high 54 rushing yards on four carries. Willis completed two of four passes for 11 yards in limited action.

Howell added 29 rushing yards on five carries and scored on a 2-yard run. He completed six of nine passes for 67 yards before heading to the sidelines.

The National team started Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett. He went 6-for-6 with 89 yards that were capped by the short swing pass that Smith turned into a 20-yard touchdown with the benefit of a busted coverage.

He was replaced by Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder, who completed four of six passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Ridder also ran for 14 yards on two rush attempts.

3. D-lineman wins MVP

Who says the MVP of an all-star game can only be a quarterback?

Winfrey, who worked well with Mafe, on one of his 2.0 sacks was selected as the Reese's Senior Bowl MVP after the Oklahoma defensive lineman finished with five tackles and three for losses.

Vikings QB Kellen Mond won the award last year, and Chargers QB Justin Herbert claimed the honor in 2020.

In addition to the two apiece recorded by Mafe and Winfrey, Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa also recorded 2.0 to help the National team finish with eight sacks. The American squad only totaled one sack.

4. Productive trio

Running backs Rachaad White (Arizona State) and Smith each toted the ball 11 times. White finished with 52 yards on the ground and added a 7-yard reception. Smith totaled 48 rushing yards and 19 through the air.

Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson led all players with 62 receiving yards on just three receptions, which included a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ridder that provided the game's final score with 11:04 left in the game.

5. Booming punts

"Punters are people, too!" — Rich Eisen's claim was strengthened by the showings from Georgia's Jake Camarda and Penn State's Jordan Stout.

Camarda punted six times for 306 yards, averaging 51.0 with four that were at least 50 yards for the American Team.

Stout lived up to his name with four punts for 198 yards, good for an average of 49.5. He recorded three of at least 50 yards.