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Natrell Jamerson Named MVP as West Wins East-West Shrine Game 2018 14-10

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2018

East safety Tracy Walker (11), of Louisiana-Lafayette, knocks down a pass intended for West wide receiver Steven Dunbar (85), of Houston, during the first half of the East West Shrine football game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek hit Houston wide receiver Steven Dunbar for the game-winning touchdown with just over a minute left to give the West a hard-fought 14-10 victory over the East on Saturday in the 2018 East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Wisconsin safety Natrell Jamerson (defense) and Northern Iowa wide receiver Daurice Fountain (offense) were named the Most Valuable Players for the 93rd edition of the event, which features senior college football stars from across the nation. Jamerson scored the West's first TD.

Aside from the late heroics, defense ruled the day as the teams combined for just 445 total yards in the postseason all-star game.

Jamerson scored the only touchdown of the first half when he picked up a fumble and returned it 68 yards to the end zone for the West.

The NFL Network highlighted the game's opening score:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

SCOOP AND SCORE! The West gets on the board first with a defensive TD! 📺: #ShrineGame | ONLY on NFL Network https://t.co/1nQF6FfDMF

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It helped cap an impressive display in Florida for the Badgers star. He shined in practice throughout the week, both on defense and special teams, which should help raise his stock in a 2018 draft class that lacks standouts at the safety spots.

Trevor Sikkema of the Pewter Report provided a look at an interception Jamerson made Monday:

Trevor Sikkema @TampaBayTre

QB Nic Shimonek goes deep for @OU_Football WR Jeff Badet, but it was snagged by @BadgerFootball S Natrell Jamerson for the INT. https://t.co/chIbxLNSuB

Nebraska kicker Drew Brown tallied the only other points in the opening half with a 33-yard field goal for the East with three seconds left in the second quarter.

The East grabbed its first lead of the contest late in the third quarter as Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett hooked up with Slippery Rock defensive lineman Marcus Martin on a four-yard touchdown. Martin worked at both defensive end and fullback in practice.

He ran a nice route underneath the defense to get open, as the NFL Network spotlighted:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

The East finds the end zone! J.T. Barrett Finds Marcus Martin for the TD! 📺: #ShrineGame | NFL Network https://t.co/PpGzN5hHYH

On Friday, Barrett was announced as the winner of the 2018 Pat Tillman Award, which is given to the player who "best exemplifies intelligence, sportsmanship and service" with their on-field performance and off-field conduct.

The East defense stood tall until the West's final drive, which featured a key fourth-down conversation on the play before Shimonek and Dunbar connected for the winning score.

Shimonek threw the ball up for grabs in tight coverage, and Dunbar made a terrific grab, as shown by the NFL Network:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

WHAT A CATCH! @UHCougarFB's Steven Dunbar hauls in the go-ahead score for the West! 📺: #ShrineGame | NFL Network https://t.co/NvysHGQgkl

Looking ahead, while none of the players in Saturday's contest were viewed as top prospects for the 2018 draft, the game's history features numerous NFL stalwarts, including Dick Butkus, Larry Csonka and Brett Favre. So it's possible to go from the East-West Shrine Game to NFL stardom.

Jamerson probably helped his stock more than anybody during the showcase. Now the question is whether he can continue that positive momentum through the NFL Scouting Combine and individual workouts in order to climb the board before the draft in late April.

Fountain and NC State defensive end Kentavius Street were among the other winners from the week.

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