Jesse Palmer has watched countless college football games this season, but it’s difficult for him to pick out a single time he has seen a better pair of defensive linemen than he will witness at the Texas Bowl on Wednesday.
Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett vs. Kansas State’s Jordan Willis feels more like a matchup of NFL pass rushers.
“Garrett will be a first-rounder and Willis could join him there,” Palmer said Tuesday in a phone interview. “I love watching both of them play.”
Palmer, an ESPN college football analyst and former NFL quarterback, is fascinated to see how both teams will try to neutralize the other’s top defensive weapon.
“Myles Garrett is a big story in this one,” Palmer said. “A lot of people think he could be the top pick in the NFL Draft. LSU found success on the ground against Texas A&M, but they really ran away from Garrett.
“There aren’t many guys I have studied that impact the game the way that he does. Offensive coordinators go out of their way to run away from him or double- and triple-team him. Not many people feel comfortable going right at him.”
Garrett made 15 tackles for loss this season, including 8 1/2 sacks. But his production dropped as the season went on due to injuries.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said Garrett finally began practicing fully this month and should be healthy for the Texas Bowl.
“This guy was not healthy after Arkansas, and is still a dominant player,” Sumlin said. “The fact that he wanted to play in games at 50 percent, whatever it was, third downs, whatever, with his teammates, says more about him than just his talent. That speaks to our team.”
Willis isn’t projected to go as high in the draft as Garrett, but experts have tabbed him as an early-round selection.
The K-State senior led the Wildcats with 11 1/2 sacks this season and won Big 12 defensive player of the year honors.
“He is an under-the-radar player,” Palmer said. “People outside the Big 12 don’t know about him, but he is such a complete player. He can stop the run, he’s quick to the point of attack and he is a phenomenal pass rusher.
“Plus, he never leaves the field. That will help his value on Sunday (in the NFL). He can literally play every snap. His productivity is off the charts. I think he will really help himself at the Senior Bowl, because nobody will be able to block him. He could certainly sneak into the first round.”
Trevor Knight considered K-State
Before Trevor Knight decided to transfer from Oklahoma to Texas A&M this season, the quarterback contemplated a move to K-State.
Knight said Tuesday he talked with Snyder about the possibility.
“I’ve always respected the way he runs his program,” Knight said. “Obviously, getting to play against them for four years and just the way that he treated me personally, but also the way he ran his program was top-notch. I still believe that today. I’m excited to get this opportunity to play against them, because I do respect them so much.”
Knight eventually chose Texas A&M and stepped right into the starting quarterback slot as a graduate transfer. He amassed 2,716 yards of total offense this season.
A Texas Bowl luncheon featured playful shenanigans from both teams on Tuesday, including a short singing competition.
Players from K-State and Texas A&M grabbed microphones and sang in front of a packed ballroom at the Westin Galleria Hotel.
The back-and-forth ended with K-State offensive lineman Will Ash belting out religious lyrics. Texas A&M players were given a chance to top him, but no one came forward.
Scout team star
Snyder singled out senior defensive lineman Logan O’Dea as the team’s top scout-team player during bowl practices.
“He has a great grasp on hard work and dedication and commitment and being a great teammate and all those things that we address all the time,” Snyder said. “He’s really invested in that. So I’m very, very proud of him.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett