It has been unclear if any players from Michigan football or Alabama would skip the Citrus Bowl and now we have an answer.
As Alabama practiced on Monday to prepare for Michigan football in the Citrus Bowl, two notable starters were absent for the Crimson Tide,
Both players will sit out to prepare for the upcoming 2020 NFL draft.
Diggs recorded 37 tackles for the Crimson Tide in 2019 while snagging three interceptions on the season while scoring two defensive touchdowns. Lewis had 31 tackles to go along with six sacks and a fumble recovery.
As for Michigan football, no players have announced that they will sit out the bowl game.
Defensive lineman Kwity Paye, who is weighing his options in terms of whether to return to school or declare for the draft, told the Detroit Free Press that he doesn’t expect any Wolverines to sit out the bowl.
“I don’t think anybody’s gonna sit out,” Paye said in an article from the Free Press. “I feel like we should end the season strong. I feel like a lot of our seniors didn’t end the season strong. I feel like it’s another way to do that.”
Can Michigan’s offense benefit?
The Crimson Tide losing two experienced players on defense can only benefit the Wolverines. Even though Alabama has depth, losing two upperclassmen against a U-M offense that has NFL-caliber weapons is a loss.
Diggs is a corner with elite-level athleticism that is capable of keeping up with the likes of Nico Collins, Donovan People-Jones and Ronnie Bell. According to analysis from thedraftnetwork.com, he can “open his stride and keep up with college football’s deep threats.”
As for Lewis, Alabama will miss his ability to rush the passer as only linebacker Anfernee Jennings has sacked the quarterback more times (7.5) than Lewis on the season on the Crimson Tide defense.
Shea Patterson will still have to on on high alert, as cornerbacks Xavier McKinney and Jared Mayden have combined for seven interceptions this season. And Alabama linebackers have combined for 12 sacks excluding Lewis’ numbers.
But with two starters out, that could be enough to open the door for Michigan to make a few more big plays on the offensive side of the ball against the 17th ranked total defense in the nation.
Michigan football fans will find out if the offense can take advantage on Jan. 1 when the Wolverines take on the Crimson Tide at 1 p.m. in Orlando. The game will be televised by ABC.