We have a lot of talent currently playing in the NFL who came from Division II schools. It is important to keep an eye out for these hidden gems. They could be the next Tyreek Hill or Austin Ekeler and could be an asset to your team down the road. Let’s look at a couple of rookies in 2023 and guys with potential for 2024.
COLTON DOWELL, WR, 6’3″, 212 LBS.
The Titans selected UT Martin wide receiver Dowell in the seventh round at 228 overall. He can be both a deep threat or possession wide receiver with the agility to make plays. He is a nice stash to have behind Hopkins and Burks.
SHAQUAN DAVIS, WR, 6’5”, 215 LBS.
Davis is an undrafted free agent from South Carolina State who landed on the New Orleans Saints as a wide receiver. He was one of the country’s top small school wide receivers, capable of making plays, and could use his long speed to become a deep threat in the NFL. Davis put up some big numbers in his 2022 season, including 11 touchdowns and 45 catches, totaling 934 yards.
New Orleans gave him large guarantees for an undrafted rookie, ultimately demonstrating his value to the team. Michael Thomas and Chris Olave are their main targets this year, but Michael Thomas is past his prime and consistently inconsistent. Davis has a solid opportunity to add depth and develop behind the effective Olave if he can make the 53-man roster.
JAROD BOWIE, WR, 5’9”, 160 LBS.
Bowie was the only player in Division II to average more than 150 yards per game in the 2022 season. Out of Concord State, a wide (slot) receiver, he produced an average of 9.3 receptions per game and led the country in receptions totaling 1,773 per game during the 2022 season, tying with 18 touchdowns. He went over 160 yards six times and finished his season with three straight games of 200 yards. He hit the transfer portal and is now at Jacksonville State for 2023. Someone to look out for, especially a deep stash in a devy league.
MAX MCLEOD, WR, 6’3″, 205 LBS.
Max McLeod caught 3 touchdown passes in @MinesFootball's semi-final win over Shepherd – that's the Orediggers FOURTH straight game (all in playoffs) with a receiver catching 3 TD's. McLeod's now done it twice along with Josh Johnston and Tristan Smith #Denver7 pic.twitter.com/gLFh48vWqq— Nick Rothschild (@nick_rothschild) December 10, 2022
Lookout for McLeod, a redshirt senior from Colorado School of Mines and a force to be reckoned with. Given the right circumstances, this guy can potentially be a powerhouse. In 2022 he started every game at receiver, putting up 1,492 yards and 18 touchdowns on 79 catches averaging 18.89 yards per catch. He was named All-America by the Associated Press and Don Hansen Football Gazette, ranking second nationally in touchdowns and third in yards.
JOHN MATOCHA, QB, 5’11”, 180 LBS.
Voted Lindy’s preseason Division II most valuable player, another Colorado School of Mines player to look out for, John Matocha. He is arguably the best player in Division II football. After a 44-13 victory over Shepherd in West Virginia, Matocha took his team to the Division II Title game against Ferris State. He snagged the 2022 Harlon Hill Trophy as the 20th quarterback to do so, passing for more than 4,500 yards and 52 touchdowns on the season.
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