Practices begin on Monday, January 14, for the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday, January 19 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. NFL scouts and personnel place greater emphasis on the practices than on the game itself.
Players on the East and West rosters hope to get noticed and increase their value for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Here are some of the players who have the most to prove this week in St. Pete.
QB Collin Klein
The Kansas State quarterback stole the hearts of many college football fans in 2012. Although finishing third in the Heisman voting, he is not considered a great NFL prospect. This week is key to erasing the doubts of many draft analysts.
RB Zac Stacey
Playing at Vanderbilt can often be a curse for anyone with NFL aspirations. Recently, though, Commodore standouts have had success in the draft and reached the NFL. At that level, alums have had moderate success.
Stacey is adored by some draft analysts and overlooked by others. This is a big week for the NFL hopeful.
S Josh Evans
Josh Evans started opposite Matt Elam as a Florida safety this past season. Elam is considered by many to be a top prospect, while Evans is thought of as a late-round pick who might be a backup safety and special teams player.
In my estimation, Evans was the better college player.
DE Devin Taylor
The 6’8”, 267 lb. South Carolina product was considered a top prospect coming out of high school. He never truly lived up to his potential with the Gamecocks and was overshadowed by YouTube phenom Jedaveon Clowney. Taylor needs a good week to prove he has an NFL future.
LB Sio Moore
The 6’2”, 229 lb. UConn product is another sleeper in the eyes of many draft analysts. If he has a big week in the Shrine game, more people will know his name, and supporting analysts will be vindicated.
OL Matt Sewell
Matt Sewell is a 6’8”, 345 lb. offensive lineman from McMaster University. Anyone who knows where that is deserves a cookie. This week is Sewell’s opportunity to rise up draft boards and put the Hamilton, Ontario school on the map.
WR Anthony Amos
In this draft, Anthony Amos is not even the most prominent receiver to come from a lower-level school in the state of Tennessee (former Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers transferred to Tennessee Tech). The East-West Shrine Game presents Amos a chance to make his own name in NFL circles.
RB Kerwynn Williams
Gary Andersen’s Utah State squad made waves this season in the WAC conference, leading to Andersen’s promotion to head coach at Wisconsin. It also made Kerwynn Williams a name to consider in this year’s draft.
At 5’8, 191 lbs., Williams is diminutive. This week, he will gain the opportunity to prove himself against solid competition. If he does well, his size may not mean much.
QB Seth Doege
Texas Tech quarterbacks historically put up great numbers in college but are not considered legitimate NFL prospects. Graham Harrell is the only Texas Tech great with staying power in the league—he is Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay. Doege is less of the thrower than many of Red Raider quarterbacks, but he has more athletic ability.
DL Brandon Thurmond
As one of the lesser known players in this game—from Arkansas-Pine Bluff—Brandon Thurmond needs to hold his own this week. Ideally, he would dominate. If he can do that, his stock will spike significantly in the coming months.
OL Kirby Fabien
Kirby Fabien is a prospect from Calgary. Recent collegiate players from Canada—Vaughn Martin and Akiem Hicks—have been selected in the middle of the NFL draft. Fabien, or one of the other Canadian players, aims to follow suit. The East-West Shrine Game will play a role in whether his goals are reached.