Reese’s Senior Bowl to welcome collegiate underclassmen

2023 Senior Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
2023 Senior Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

For years, the Reese’s Senior Bowl has served as a postseason opportunity for college seniors to practice and compete in front of NFL scouts. The Mobile, Alabama event is several days long and includes practices, drills, interviews, Combine-like testing, and an All-Star game in which players get the opportunity to be scouted (and coached) by the NFL community.

The Covid-19 pandemic created a lot of issues with tracking player eligibility as the 2020 season essentially has been a “free” year in which no scholarship players exhausted any eligibility, whether they played or not that season. This “Covid redshirt” meant that the 2021, 2022, and 2023 Senior Bowls have been populated by more than just the standard 4th or 5th-year seniors.

Now, keeping with the theme of adding more and more players to the Senior Bowl festivities, the NFL (who controls the rules surrounding the Senior Bowl) is expanding the reach of college All-Star games. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league will now allow any draft-eligible, draft-declared player to participate in its collegiate All-Star games.

This means that, in addition to the redshirt juniors (academic college seniors) and the actual seniors who have participated in the Senior Bowl for years, true juniors and even redshirt sophomores will have the opportunity to play in the Senior Bowl. The rule change will affect other All-Star games like the East/West Shrine Bowl, HBCU Legacy Bowl, and Hula Bowl.

In the current 2024 NFL Draft class, players like Drake Maye, Caleb Williams, and Marvin Harrison, Jr. are set to be among the top players taken in the draft. In years past, their status as college juniors would have exempted them from eligibility to participate in any form of collegiate All-Star game. With this rule change, if they so desired, Maye, Williams, and Harrison can take part.

The Senior Bowl and other All-Star showcases have been most beneficial to seniors who had been hoping to increase their draft stock. With the addition of the underclassmen, it remains to be seen how the dynamics surrounding the Senior Bowl may change. Typically, the top-ranked seniors in the class have not participated in the event. Will the top-ranked underclassmen follow suit?

The 2024 Senior Bowl will take place on February 3rd, 2024 with the practices, testing, and interviews taking place in the days preceding the event.

South Carolina Football: Xavier Legette named to Senior Bowl midseason All-American team. light. Related Story