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Linebackers made their mark in New Year’s Day college bowl games

Off-the-ball linebackers stood out in several bowl matchups

Bowl season came to a close on Monday and if there was one common theme throughout the day, it was the play of several linebackers. Including those mentioned below, players like Skai Moore from South Carolina and Roquan Smith from Georgia also had exceptional performances. See below for those players that stood out in bowl action on Monday.

Lorenzo Carter, linebacker (Georgia)

His teammate, Roquan Smith, may have been more noticeable, but Carter deserves an equal amount of praise. Carter spent the day covering the underneath routes, holding the edge in the run game, and rushing the passer. He also had perhaps the biggest play of the day, an overtime field goal block that kept the game tied and allowed Georgia’s next score to win the game.

Nick Chubb & Sony Michel, running backs (Georgia)

Cheating here a bit, but the two Georgia running backs were so successful together it was hard not to include both. They each demonstrated what they do best, Michel was the speedy big-play threat while Chubb banged out tough yardage on the inside. Both backs totaled more than 140 yards each on only 25 combined carries. Really the only stumble was a Michel fumble which was scooped up for a touchdown by Oklahoma.

Rashaan Evans, linebacker (Alabama)

Evans demonstrated his versatility in the game against Clemson, putting together first-round game tape. He had a hand in completely shutting down the Clemson run game, but also managed to sack Kelly Bryant on an edge rush and was on point in his coverage assignments. Evans eventually led the team in tackles, had a sack, a tackle-for-loss, and a pass break up.

Van Smith, safety (Clemson)

Clemson was plastered by Alabama in the CFB semi-final game, but Smith was a surprising bright spot of the team. He displayed high level great ball skills on a deep pass break up that was intended for Calvin Ridley. He also wasn’t afraid to make plays against the run, preventing Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris from breaking a few more long gains. Here’s hoping the junior safety decides to declare.

Jamiyus Pittman, defensive line (UCF)

Pittman’s energy in the middle of the defensive line was plain to see. He was in Jarrett Stidham’s face for most of the game. Using active hands and his short-area quickness, Pittman was never fully stymied by the blocking in front of him. At 6’0”, he always has natural leverage on his opponents. He finished with 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks in UCF’s upset victory.