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Isabella Rising: UMass WR impresses at Senior Bowl

Named North team MVP.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It's a subjective leap to declare any one player "wins the Senior Bowl" or "wins the NFL combine."

Still, one cannot help but feel a winning vibe coming from Andy Isabella's corner after finding praise (and the end zone) during Senior Bowl week.

The UMass product culminated his week of impressive practices with seven catches for 74 yards and a go-ahead touchdown to help the North squad topple the South, 34-24 on Saturday.

For all his contributions during the week, Isabella was also named the MVP of the North team (not to be confused with MVP of the game, which went to Duke quarterback Daniel Jones).

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Taking in the game and several stories written about you this week, Isabella checked many boxes that NFL GMs surely had with Isabella...

Footwork

The first impressions from the week of practice were captured in a series of tweets marveling at Isabella’s quick and precise routes. He was able to gain separation often with some displays of footwork that did not go unnoticed.

Physicality

Before Isabella steps on the field, teams will doubt him because of when he steps on the scale.

At 5’10”, 190 lbs., Isabella has played with a chip on his shoulder his whole career. However, this time of year, college players who are not built like freight trains tend to get a few red X’s on their draft board.

Isabella’s touchdown catch and run, however, may limit that red ink a bit.

Isabella took a quick screen pass from Jones and was able - with the help of a block - ran through what looked like a sure South tackle on the way to the end zone. Toughness after the catch was great and is exactly what will impress NFL teams who may question his size.

He also looked comfortable drifting over the middle of the field for a few catches. If Isabella is to become effective at the next level, living in the danger zone that is the middle of the defense will have to be his workshop.

First things first

Moved. The. Sticks.

These are three words that coaches and more general managers are starting to prioritize in their offensive skill players. And if we are, indeed, at the start of some sort of slot receiver revolution, the ability to get a first down is its mission statement.

On Saturday, Isabella got eight touches with six converted for first downs. He was on the receiving end of two of the North’s three fourth down throws that helped keep drives alive.

This includes a key catch on Fourth and 1 near midfield, that Isabella was able to churn into a 23-yard gain that helped set up the put-away score for the North.

What’s next?

Win the combine, of course.

Isabella is scheduled to continue his off-season, pre-draft year training with Hall of Famer Randy Moss down in Florida before taking part in the annual NFL combine.

As a former track standout, expect a solid 40-yard dash time.

If he can muster a Top 5 time at the position, keep an eye on his name showing up on three-round mock drafts.

Do this and, come April, maybe that official draft has his name called early, too.