The 2022 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl is in the books. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish knocked off the South Carolina Gamecocks, 45-38.
In a game that was played before a near-sellout crowd of mostly South Carolina fans, no one can say the Gator Bowl wasn’t interesting. There were several defensive and special teams scores, as well as, big plays on offense.
Let’s look at how the top prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft performed.
2022 GATOR BOWL PROSPECT REWIND
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Spencer Rattler has a decision to make. Does he return to Columbia for the 2023 season? Or does he enter the 2023 NFL draft? Rattler obliterated the Tennessee and Clemson defenses to close the season. Like he has all season, you saw the flashes of greatness mixed in with boneheadedness during the Gator Bowl. Rattler had at least three passes that should have been intercepted. He interspersed that with multiple throws that only a handful of QB prospects can make. Rattler completed 29/46 passes for 246 yards and two TDs. He added 27 yards rushing while throwing a pick.
Juice Wells also has the same decision to make. The James Madison transfer has been tremendous during his first year in the SEC. Wells is excellent after the catch but isn’t a polished route runner. Notre Dame mostly kept him in check, however. Wells caught five passes for 30 yards (on 9 targets).
Jovaughn Gwyn has been a regular starter for the Gamecocks over the last few seasons. He has been great (at times) as a pass blocker and in the run game. He will occasionally get beat with quickness inside. I expect Gwyn to hear his name called late on day three.
Marcellus Dial has filled in admirably lately, stepping in for Cam Smith and Darius Rush. As the only veteran defensive back in this game for South Carolina, Dial wasn’t challenged much by Notre Dame. Dial finished the Gator Bowl with four tackles and a PBU.
Jordan Burch has finally started to play up to his five-star rating out of high school. Burch, along with Tonka Hemingway (4 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 QBH) and Alex Huntley (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 PBU), was consistently pressuring Irish QB, Tyler Buchner. Burch had four QB hurries in the loss. because of the Gamecocks’ lack of depth entering the game, you could visibly see him and the others wearing down in the fourth quarter.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Brandon Joseph is a rangy safety prospect. He has fallen off a bit from his 2021 preseason rating at Northwestern. Unfortunately, despite being listed on the two-deep prior to kickoff, Joseph sat this one out.
Jarrett Patterson is a tremendous interior offensive line prospect. He is the starting left guard for Notre Dame but we project him to center at the NFL level. Patterson will play at the Senior Bowl next month.
Joshua Lugg starts at right guard for the Irish. He is not a highly-rated player like Patterson. However, I expect Lugg will be selected late or signed as a priority-free agent.
This was my first time ever covering a football game at an NFL stadium. I want to thank the staff at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. Especially, TaxSlayer Gator Bowl vice president of marketing Katie Cox for all of her hospitality.