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Game Notes

Lending Tree Bowl: Malik Willis Looks Dominant

Lending Tree Bowl

The Liberty Flames defeated the Eastern Michigan Eagles, 56-20.

Let’s look at what the top prospects did in this game.


Eagles RB Darius Boone has shifty feet and runs with power. The redshirt sophomore is unlikely to be a part of the 2022 draft class. Boone finished the Lending Tree Bowl with 51 yards on 12 carries.

Senior tight end Thomas Odukoya is an absolute monster blocking. I watched him pancake several Liberty defenders during the game. Odukoya sets the edge like he is an offensive tackle. He is a solid route runner. It is hard to fathom why Eastern Michigan doesn’t feature him more as a receiver. I expect Odukoya will be a more productive pro than a collegian. He can be everything the Cincinnati Bengals thought they were getting with Drew Sample. And he will likely be selected where Sample should have been. Odukoya finished the game with one catch for 15 yards on one target.


 I have been more critical of senior QB Malik Willis than most of the draft media. He is currently ranked outside of my top 100 prospects despite being a likely first-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. With that being said, it is easy to see why NFL scouts and draft media alike fall all over themselves to heap praise upon the Flames signal-caller. Willis probably has the best arm talent of any prospect in this class. This doesn’t mention his high-end athleticism.

The problems with Malik Willis have always been his pocket presence. His inability to diagnose quickly and avoid a sack. In the two games I watched earlier this season (Ole Miss and Syracuse), Willis was sacked a combined 15 times. This is something he needs to get fixed. Luckily for myself, I was able to see him in person tonight at the Lending Tree Bowl and will get to again in February at the Senior Bowl.

Against Eastern Michigan, there was no sign of the Malik Willis who couldn’t avoid a sack against Ole Miss and Syracuse. There was no sign of the player who could only complete 41% of his passes against Louisiana. Instead, we got to see first-round talent, Malik Willis. Against the Eagles, Willis completed 13/24 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran eight times for 58 yards and two scores. Willis was only sacked once. He was named MVP of the game.

Junior RB TJ Green showed a great burst through the hole on a 34-yard TD run. The Utah transfer ran 8 times for 88 yards and one score. Green was named Offensive MVP of the Lending Tree Bowl.

Junior edge rusher Durrell Johnson has long arms on a lanky frame. He is a talented player but needs to work on his strength to be able to maximize his talents. He isn’t likely to enter the draft this year. During the Lending Tree Bowl, Johnson finished the game with four tackles (three solos).

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