By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
MAVIN Saunders will take the first step toward professional football and his post-collegiate playing career with his first senior bowl invite.
Saunders was one of four Kansas Jayhawks football players selected to the fourth annual SPIRAL Tropical Bowl, to be hosted at the Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium in Florida on January 13.
Saunders will join fellow Jayhawks Brian Lipscomb, Ryan Scadler and Dwayne Wallace who are expected to showcase their skills in an effort to secure a spot at the next level, while also representing Kansas football on the all-star level. Practice sessions will be hosted today and tomorrow as players become acclimated to their all-star squads ahead of Sunday’s game.
This year’s game will be video live streamed by FloSports - a FloFootball subscription is required.
Saunders will play for the National (Blue) Team, where they will be coached by Jim Collins. Collins has been a SPIRAL Bowl head coach, defensive coordinator and director of coaches/operations since its inception in 2016.
More than 110 Tropical Bowl participants have gone on to the NFL, while 26 NFL teams were in attendance and more than 70 total scouts flew in for the event in 2018.
During his lone season at KU, the 6’6”, 258-pound tight end played in nine games, and caught four receptions for 32 yards, including an 18 yard touchdown.
Saunders spent his first four seasons at Florida State before graduating and transferring to Kansas.
Saunders caught the first touchdown reception of his NCAA career in the Jayhawks’ 38-22 loss to then No.8/9 West Virginia in October.
His career-long 18 yard reception from quarterback Peyton Bender put Kansas on the scoreboard for the first time with 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter. His touchdown reception was also the first to a Jayhawks tight end this season. He also had two receptions for 10 yards in an addition to a two-point conversion in a week one 26-23 overtime upset loss to Nicholls State of the FCS.
Saunders was named to the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award - doled out to the top tight end in all of collegiate football. He transferred to the Jayhawks from the Florida State Seminoles and was ranked the third best transfer tight end by College Football Focus behind Thaddeus Young (LSU) and Jesse Conners (Syracuse).
Saunders did not record a reception in his last season and his Seminole stats for his career included 16 receptions for 234 yards.