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11 most interesting first-time players at American Century Championship

Jay Bilas
ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas will play in his first American Century Championship. (Photo by Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

The American Century Championship returned to Edgewood Tahoe this week, and while familiar names like Charles Barkley, Justin Timberlake, Steph Curry, Jack Wagner, Jerry Rice and Ray Romano headline the field, the tournament has a number of fresh faces this year. Here is a look at the 11 most interesting first-time players at the ACC.

* Josh Allen, Bills quarterback: The No. 7 pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Allen, a Wyoming alum who played at Nevada during his career, had a solid rookie season in Buffalo. He rushed 89 times for 631 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 52.8 percent of his passes for 2,074 yards, 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, I imagine Allen can pound a drive.

* Jay Bilas, ESPN analyst: The former Duke Blue Devils player has become one of the most prominent basketball voices on ESPN, serving as a college analyst and being a lead figure on the network's draft coverage. He's also called NCAA Tournament games and averaged 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for Duke from 1982-86, leading the Blue Devils to the title game as a senior.

* Andy Dalton, Bengals quarterback: Four active NFL quarterbacks are in this year's event, with Allen and Andy Dalton being first-timers. (Aaron Rodgers and Case Keenum are the other two). Dalton has spent eight seasons in the NFL, including three Pro Bowl appearances. He's passed for 28,100 yards, 188 touchdowns and 86 interceptions.

* Dylan Dreyer, meteorologist: Dreyer is one of four women playing in this year's event. She's a meteorologist for NBC News and Today Show. The good news for Dreyer is it won't be that hard to forecast the weather at this year's ACC. It's supposed to be sunny and in the low 80s all week.

* Kira Kazantsev, Miss America 2015: Kazantsev will join Dreyer among the ladies in the field (the others are NHL on NBC host Kathryn Tappen and Golf Channel host Lisa Cornwell). Kazantsev, a first-generation American, has supported protecting women against domestic violence and aspires to be a lawyer specializing in international law.

* Travis Kelce, Chiefs tight end: Few players in the NFL have as strong of a personality as Kelce, so it's easy to see how he could be a fan favorite at the ACC. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound pass-catching target has made four Pro Bowls in six seasons in the NFL. Last year, he set career highs in receptions (103), receiving yards (1,336) and receiving touchdowns (10).

* Joe Mauer, retired MLB: A potential Hall of Famer, Mauer retired after last season, which opened up his schedule for his first ACC appearance. The 2009 AL MVP slashed .306/.388/.439 in 15 seasons in the big leagues. Like Kelce and Allen, Mauer stands 6-foot-5, making him one of the tallest catchers ever, so he could win a long-drive contest.

* Tyler Seguin, Stars center: Hockey players have had a lot of success in the ACC, and Seguin will have his first go in the event. Only 27, he's already logged nine seasons in the NHL, scoring 206 goals while assisting on 258 more. Seguin scored 80 points this season, the second most of his career behind the 84 he tallied in 2013-14.

* Shane Victorino, retired MLB: The Flyin' Hawaiian, as he was known during his playing career, is a two-time World Series champion, winning with the Phillies in 2008 and Red Sox in 2013. He's also a good guy off the field, winning the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for character and integrity in 2008 and Branch Rickey Award for exceptional community service in 2011

* Mike Vrabel, Titans coach: NFL head coaches love their golf. Six of the 32 coaches in the league will play in this year's event. Vrabel is one of four first-timers along with Frank Reich (Colts), Matt Nagy (Bears) and Anthony Lynn (Chargers). Back for a repeat appearance are Doug Pederson (Eagles) and Sean Payton (Saints).

* Eric Weddle, Rams safety: Weddle (and his beard) will debut at the Tahoe event. The six-time Pro Bowler has made five All-Pro teams. He'll begin his 13th NFL season with his third team after joining the Rams in the offseason. He has 1,067 tackles and 29 interceptions in his career. He is one of 22 active NFL players in the field.

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