Two student-athletes from Charlotte who participated in last year’s Bahamas Bowl joined one other from FIU who played in the 2018 game as they were selected during the 2020 NFL Draft, held in a virtual format April 23-25.
Charlotte defensive end Alex Highsmith was selected in the third round (No. 102 overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Charlotte offensive tackle Cameron Clark was selected in the fourth round (No. 129 overall) by the New York Jets and FIU cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver III was selected in the seventh round (No. 221 overall) by the Carolina Panthers.
The three selections give the Bahamas Bowl a total of 26 total alumni chosen in the last six NFL Drafts. Hightower’s third-round selection extended the Bahamas Bowl streak of an alumni taken in the first three rounds to five consecutive years.
Highsmith was named third-team All-America by The Associated Press, and he was the first 49ers player to earn AP All-America honors. He was a first-team All-Conference USA selection by the league’s coaches in both his junior and senior seasons. A former walk-on, he finished his senior season fourth in the nation in sacks (14.0) and fifth in tackles for loss (21.5), and he holds the school record for career sacks (20.0), In the 2019 Bahamas Bowl, he started at defensive end, and posted seven total tackles (three solo), which was fourth highest for the 49ers in a 31-9 defeat to Buffalo.
Clark was a three-year starter for Charlotte and a first-team All-Conference USA selection by the league’s coaches as a senior in 2019. He was also a second-team All-Conference USA choice by Pro Football Focus. He helped anchor an offensive line that led C-USA and ranked 30th in FBS in rushing offense (a school-record 203.0 yards per game). He finished his career with a school-record 49 games played. Clark started at left tackle in the 2019 Bahamas Bowl against Buffalo, the last of 31 consecutive starts to close out his 49ers career.
Thomas-Oliver III converted from a wide receiver in 2017 to a solid defensive back in his final two seasons with the Panthers. He was a second-team All-Conference USA selection this past season, and an honorable mention All-Conference USA performer in 2018, when the Panthers participated in the Bahamas Bowl. He started at cornerback and posted four total tackles (three solo) and a pass breakup in the Panthers’ 35-32 victory over Toledo.
A total of 30 bowl alumni have played in at least one NFL regular-season game, including 21 who were selected in the NFL Draft. 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 (WKU, 2014 Bahamas Bowl) became the first bowl alum to play in the Super Bowl in Super Bowl LIII.
The Bahamas Bowl’s two participating conferences, Conference USA (10 players) and the Mid-American Conference (two players), combined for 12 total selections in the 2020 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 to begin the process of preparing for the 2020 season. A total of nine undrafted free agents who participated in the Bahamas Bowl have gone on to play at least one NFL game.
2020 NFL Draft Selections of Bahamas Bowl Alumni
Round 3, No. 102 overall: Charlotte DE Alex Highsmith (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Round 4, No. 129 overall: Charlotte T Cameron Clark (New York Jets)
Round 7, No. 221 overall: FIU CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver III (Carolina Panthers)
For more information on the 2020 Bahamas Bowl, visit BahamasBowl.com. The game is one of 16 postseason bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN.