PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS - 2012 BELK BOWL BLITZ: EDITION 4
By Helen Sowell
Did you know that some of the biggest names in the National Football League (past and present) had their professional careers begin after post-season play at Bank of America Stadium? The 2012 Belk Bowl, kicking-off on December 27 at 6:30 pm, continues this 10-year tradition featuring elite collegians from the ACC and the Big East anxious to showcase their talents.
Since the inaugural game in 2002 that pitted the University of Virginia against West Virginia University, promising young players have been a staple, no more evident than with the nascent yet explosive Virginia combination of signal-caller Matt Schaub (Houston Texans) to sure-handed TE Heath Miller (Pittsburgh Steelers). The Cavs dismantled West Virginia, 48-22, and Schaub earned ACC Player of the Year honors for his body of work that season. The Wahoos returned to B of A Stadium the following year besting Pitt, 23-16, with a roster full of future aces including Schaub, Miller and Ahmad Brooks (LB, San Francisco 49ers) to name just a few. For the Pitt Panthers’ faithful, and everyone else in the stadium, fans got a first-hand look at the best wide receiver in the country that year and Heisman Trophy runner-up, Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals).
There have been 18 “bowl alums” drafted in the NFL’s first round, and in 2006 Belk Bowl participant and NC State defensive end Mario Williams was selected with the #1 overall draft pick by the Houston Texans. In fact, that 2005 Belk Bowl champion Wolfpack squad saw three defensive playmakers drafted in the first round including Williams, who currently starts for the Buffalo Bills. If you’re keeping score the ACC has landed a total of 32 players selected in the first three rounds while the Big East has 15 and all showcased their potential in post-season play here. This archive includes some marquee players like Hakeem Nicks (WR, UNC, NY Giants), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (OT, Virginia, NY Jets), Mathias Kiwanuka (LB, Boston College, NY Giants), Matt Ryan (QB, Boston College, Atlanta Falcons), “discount double-check” B.J. Raji (DT, Boston College, Green Bay Packers) and Donald Brown (RB, UConn, Indianapolis Colts).
Even though the teams are yet to be determined, it’s guaranteed to be entertaining with many super seniors playing in their last collegiate game like Duke QB Sean Renfree or NC State QB Mike Glennon from the ACC, or Cincinnati RB George Winn who leads the Big East in rushing. Indeed, the Belk Bowl offers more than a football game - it offers a college gameday experience from the Battle of the Bands to FanFest activities, highlighted by a pregame concert with Lady Antebellum, Country Music Vocal Group of the Year. So mark your calendars, buy your tickets and bring your school spirit. It’s one of the best sporting events you will attend in the Carolinas.
Answer for Belk Bowl Blitz Trivia: