Mobile, Alabama (April 27, 2020) – The LendingTree Bowl had an impressive NFL Draft as five former bowl participants were selected in the 2020 edition of the league’s Player Selection Meeting.
Louisiana offensive lineman Robert Hunt was selected in the second round (39th overall) by the Miami Dolphins, Appalachian State linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither was picked in the fourth round (107th overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals, Louisiana offensive lineman Kevin Dotson was taken in the fourth round (135th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Louisiana running back Raymond Calais was taken in the seventh round (245th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and from the Mid-American Conference Miami (OH) kicker Sam Sloman was taken in the seventh round (248th overall) by the Los Angeles Rams.
The Sun Belt Conference boasted seven total draft picks from the conference. The Mid-American Conference had two picks in this year’s draft with many others signing agreements after the draft.
2020 NFL DRAFT – LendingTree Bowl Alumni
Robert Hunt, Louisiana – 39th overall selection (Second Round), Miami Dolphins
Hunt became the first former Sun Belt football standout drafted as the Dolphins selected the former Ragin’ Cajun as the 39th overall pick.
The Burkeville, Texas, native capped his final season for the Ragin’ Cajuns with his second All-Sun Belt recognition after once again anchoring an offensive line that paved the way to one of the best offensive seasons in school history. Louisiana was among the FBS leaders ranking sixth in rushing offense (257.4) and 10th in scoring offense (37.9). Hunt was a stalwart for the Cajuns with three years of starting experience, including the last two seasons at right tackle. He played and started in all 14 games in 2019, but sat out the 2019 LendingTree Bowl due to an injury.
Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State – 107th overall selection (Fourth Round) – Cincinnati Bengals
Davis-Gaither was the second Appalachian State player selected as the first pick of the fourth round (107th overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Davis-Gaither accumulated 209 tackles and 24.5 tackles for loss as a starter. He played on Appalachian State teams that went a combined 54-12 with a 5-0 bowl record, including the Dollar General Bowl, and four straight conference titles. In the 2017 Dollar General Bowl the Appalachian State Defense held Toledo to zero points and only 146 total yards. In that game Akeem accounted for 4 total tackles including 1 solo
Kevin Dotson, Louisiana – 135th overall selection (Fourth Round) – Pittsburgh Steelers
Selected in the fourth round (135th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dotson earned All-America honors from the Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Focus and became the first player in school history to earn first-team recognition from the AP.
Dotson earned his 52nd collegiate start, the second-longest start streak in the country, in Louisiana’s LendingTree Bowl win over Miami (Ohio).
Raymond Calais, Louisiana – 245th overall selection (Seventh Round) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Calais capped off a historic draft for Louisiana with his seventh-round selection (245th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was the third Ragin’ Cajun drafted, the most in school history.
Calais was a key contributor in Louisiana’s three-headed ground attack that shattered the school’s single-season record with 42 rushing touchdowns. The third-team All-Sun Belt selection was responsible for six of those touchdowns, rushing for 886 yards on 117 carries. In the 2019 LendingTree Bowl Calais had 5 attempts for 19 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per carry. He also had 2 kick returns for a total of 41 yards in the win over Miami (OH).
Sam Sloman, Miami (OH) – 248th overall selection (Seventh Round) – Los Angeles Rams
With the 248th pick in the 2020 draft the Los Angeles Rams selected, Miami (OH) kicker, Sam Sloman. Sloman ranked 4th in the FBS in field goals made. He boast a success rate of 26 of his 30 attempts as a senior and proved accurate and lethal from all ranges.
The Roswell, GA native was nearly flawless from inside the 40 yard-line, successfully scoring 15/16 kicks.
Despite the RedHawks loss, Sloman was a point leader for Miami in his appearance in the 2019 LendingTree Bowl.