A couple student-athletes who participated in last year’s Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl joined three other players from previous years as they were selected during the 2019 National Football League (NFL) Draft, held April 25-27 in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
The five selections in the 2019 NFL Draft were the third-most in the history of the bowl behind the record seven in 2016 and the six taken in 2017. The five selections give the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl a total of 23 alumni chosen in the last five NFL Drafts.
Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson was selected in the third round (No. 66 overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Toledo Rockets’ cornerback Ka’dar Hollman was selected in the sixth round (No. 185 overall) by the Green Bay Packers. Johnson started and led the Rockets with six receptions for 98 yards and a two-yard touchdown catch with 7:21 remaining in the fourth quarter in the bowl game. Hollman started in the 35-32 loss to Florida International University (FIU) and posted six total tackles (four solo).
Johnson was a two-time All-MAC (Mid-American Conference) selection at wide receiver, punt returner and kickoff returner. He was also named the MAC’s 2018 Special Teams Player of the Year. He finished his career with 137 receptions for 2,276 yards and 24 touchdown receptions in three seasons. As a senior in 2018, Johnson led the Rockets with 49 receptions and 761 receiving yards. He had eight touchdown catches along with one punt return for a touchdown and one kickoff return for a score.
For his career, Hollman compiled 114 tackles, two interceptions and 27 pass break-ups. As a senior, he had a career-best 43 tackles and tied for the MAC lead with 12 pass break-ups. He came to Toledo as a walk-on, but eventually earned a scholarship and became a three-year starter at cornerback.
Also selected in the third round, Old Dominion University (ODU) defensive end Oshane Ximines was taken by the New York Giants at No. 95 overall, the first ODU player in the school’s history to be selected. Ximines started in the 2016 bowl game for the Monarchs and had one assisted tackle, one pass break-up and a pair of quarterback hurries in the 24-20 victory over for ODU over Eastern Michigan.
Ximines had a record-setting career for the Monarchs, setting ODU bests in sacks with 33, tackles for loss with 50.5, forced fumbles with 11 and quarterback hurries with 33. He also ranks ninth in ODU history with 12 pass break-ups. In 2018, he finished fifth in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) with 12 sacks and 15th in the FBS with 18.5 tackles for loss. His 58 tackles were the 10th most by an FBS defensive linemen.
In the fourth round (No. 106 overall), Eastern Michigan University (EMU) defensive end Maxx Crosby was selected by the Oakland Raiders. Crosby played in the 2016 game for the Eastern Michigan Eagles and posted four total tackles (three solo) against Old Dominion to move into a tie for second all-time in EMU career sacks. Crosby is tied for second in career sacks at Eastern Michigan with 20 and added 41 career tackles for loss, the second-most in EMU history. He was selected to back-to-back First Team All-MAC honors in 2017 and 2018.
Old Dominion wide receiver Travis Fulgham was selected in the sixth round (No. 184 overall) by the Detroit Lions. Fulgham started in the 2016 game for the ODU Monarchs and had one catch, a 31-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
Fulgham, a former walk-on, concluded his ODU career with 128 receptions, good for seventh in the Monarchs record book and recorded 2,044 receiving yards (sixth-most in school history) and 18 touchdowns. Fulgham earned second-team All-Conference USA accolades this year and earned first-team all-league honors by Pro Football Focus.
A total of 18 bowl alumni have played in at least one NFL regular-season game, including 14 who were drafted. Tennessee Titans’ wide receiver Corey Davis (Western Michigan, 2015 Bahamas Bowl) was the No. 5 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, the highest selection of a Bahamas Bowl alumnus all-time. Los Angeles Rams’ tight end Tyler Higbee (Western Kentucky University, 2014 Bahamas Bowl) became the first bowl alum to play in the Super Bowl in Super Bowl LIII last season.
The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl’s two participating conferences, Conference USA (six players) and the Mid-American Conference (nine players), combined for 15 total selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The NFL Draft is not the end of the process for players not selected as each NFL team will sign undrafted free agents to rosters in the next few weeks in anticipation of the league’s 100th season in 2019. Four Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl alumni who were not drafted have played in at least one NFL regular-season game in the previous four seasons.
For more information on the 2019 Bahamas Bowl, interested persons are asked to visit the website MakersWantedBahamasBowl.com. The game is one of 15 postseason bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN.