MOBILE, Ala. --- Seniors Jessamen Dunker and Ezra Robinson have officially accepted their invitations to participate in the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl. The nation’s premier all-star game is set for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. and will be televised on the NFL Network.
Dunker, who was named to the Watch List in late August, is an offensive lineman from Boynton Beach, Fla., who started in 40 games over his career, including 10 this season. Dunker moved from guard to left tackle for the 2016 campaign and anchored the offensive line for the top scoring team in the OVC, which averaged 32.3 points per game. Dunker and his line mates powered an offense that generated 415.1 yards per game and topped the Ohio Valley Conference at 6.6 yards per play. Dunker and the Big Blue line allowed the least amount of sacks in the OVC (14).
Robinson was not on the initial Watch List, but was added for consideration during his stellar senior campaign. Robinson capped of his career at TSU with his fifth interception of the year on the final play of the season finale at Southeast Missouri. The cornerback started all 11 games for the Tigers in 2016 and compiled 42 tackles, 31 solo and had eight pass breakups. Robinson also recovered a fumble and was the only player in the OVC to return two interceptions for touchdowns and tied for second in the FCS. The Sarasota, Fla. native earned adidas OVC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his play versus Eastern Kentucky (10/16).
The two selections give Tennessee State four over the last four seasons and five since 2008. Robert Myers and Kadeem Edwards were the last two linemen at the Senior Bowl for TSU. Myers was selected in 2015 while Edwards played in 2014. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the last Tiger cornerback to participate when he accepted an invitation in 2008.
Dunker and Robinson bring the TSU total of participants to 27, which is the largest amount of any non-FBS program in the country. The Tigers outdistance all other HBCU institutions, just ahead of Jackson State (21) and Grambling (17).
The selections are also, at this time, the first two player invitees from an OVC school in the same season. In all, the conference opponents have sent 15 representatives over the years, led by Eastern Kentucky with five, followed by Jacksonville State and UT Martin with three each. Since joining the conference, TSU has sent nine players.
This also marks the first time TSU has sent two in the same season since 1978 when defensive linemen Sylvester Hicks and Stan Johnson went to Mobile. In 1973, wide receiver Ollie Smith and offensive lineman Robert Woods were the first Tiger duo to play together. The following year, TSU sent its largest group to Mobile as linebacker Waymond Bryant, wide receiver John Holland and defensive lineman Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones played in the game.
The list of accepted invites has risen to 29 and will reach 110 seniors during the upcoming weeks. Practices will be broadcasted live on ESPN2 and the NFL Network beginning on Jan. 23.
List of All TSU Tigers at the Senior Bowl
1967 - Bill Tucker, B
1968 - Claude Humphrey, DL
1969 - James Marsalis, DB
1971 - Vern Holland, OL
1972 - Cliff Brooks, DB
1973 - Ollie Smith, WR and Robert Woods, OL
1974 - Waymond Bryant, LB, John Holland, WR and Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones, DL
1976 - Larry Dorsey, WR and Mike Hegman, LB
1977 - Oliver Davis, DB
1978 - Sylvester Hicks, DL and Stan Johnson, DL
1979 - Dwight Wheeler, OL
1980 - McDonald Oden, TE
1982 - Donald Laster, OL
1993 - Patrick Robinson, WR
1994 - Randy Fuller, DB
2000 - Michael Thompson, OL
2001 - Ligarius Jennings, DB
2008 - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DB
2014 - Kadeem Edwards, OL
2015 - Robert Myers, OL
2016 – Jessamen Dunker, OL and Ezra Robinson, CB