The Temple Owls might see running back Bernard Pierce for the last time in a team uniform on Saturday during the 2011 New Mexico Bowl against the Wyoming Cowboys. Pierce is a strong candidate to leave early for the 2012 NFL Draft, and ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. believes (Insider subscription required) a great game against the Cowboys will seal Pierce's decision to leave early.
Pierce rebounded from a sophomore slump to post his second 1,300-plus rushing yard season, going for 1,381 so far this season and 1,361 as a freshman in 2009. He's rushed for 25 touchdowns so far this season and has 51 in his career. The Cowboys allow 230 yards on the ground, which could provide a great matchup for Pierce and Matt Brown to run wild.
Running backs usually slide down in the draft, but Pierce appears likely to be a middle-rounds selection. He isn't quite at the level of Trent Richardson or LaMichael James, but he has the size (6-foot-1, 218 pounds) to be considered a decent prospect coming out of a MAC school.