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Tag:East-West Shrine Game
Posted on: January 9, 2012 6:09 pm
 

NFLPA all-star game announces 1st junior player

The NFL's Player Association raised some eyebrows back in November with the announcement that it would sponsor a post-season all-star game and invite underclassmen as well as top-ranked senior prospects to participate.

In the past, the NFL had generally been unwilling to recognize all-star games that catered to underclassmen for fear that it would be perceived that the game or the league was attempting to push amateur athletes into the professioanl ranks too soon. The changing NFL landscape in which many of the top prospects are underclassmen, however, has led all-star games to consider other alternatives to boost interest.

All-star games have toyed with this notion in the past. I attended the East-West Shrine Game practices back in 2004 when that prestigious all-star game allowed Stanford defensive tackle Amon Gordon to participate despite the fact that he was only a junior.

While allowing underclassmen to participate may drive better attendance during the game, itself, it also guarantees that no NFL scouts will be attending the practices. NFL personnel are prohibited in attending all-star practices or games in which underclassmen are participating.

The fact that scouts won't be on hand to evaluate prospects, however, won't keep the players from participating. Scouts, after all, will get their hands on the practice and game tape, regardless.

The NFLPA game, to be held in the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on January 21, is apparently carrying through with their promise to invite underclassmen. On Monday, Miami junior offensive lineman Brandon Washington was among the nine players the NFLPA Game announced on their Facebook page as having accepted an invitations.

Not surprisingly, Washington is the most highly regarded of the 39 prospects the NFLPA has thus far confirmed as playing in the game. Washington is currently graded by NFLDraftScout.com as a solid second round value and is currently our No. 3 rated offensive guard, overall.


Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:51 am
 

FCS All-American team features NFL talent

Much is made of the household names that appear each season on the FBS All-American team.

Not enough attention, however, goes to those men recognized as All-Americans at the lower levels of college football.

Yesterday, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) released their choices for the FCS All-American team. For those sick of acronyms, FCS stands for Football Championship Subdivision, which replaced the long-held moniker Division I-AA. Not surprisingly, on this list are the names of several incredibly productive collegiate players who will struggle to repeat their success at the professional level -- just like the FBS All-American team.

There are, however, several NFL-caliber prospects, including three players who I believe could prove top 100 selections in the 2012 draft: Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, Furman cornerback Ryan Steed and Montana cornerback Trumanine Johnson.

Of the three, I am personally highest on Quick, a 6-4, 216 pounder who caught 71 passes this season for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns. This total helped make Quick the school’s all-time career leader with 202 receptions, 3,418 yards and 31 touchdown catches. 

Quick's height is obviously a "large" part of his success. He also possesses surprising overall athleticism and acceleration for such a big man. Quick was the one Mountaineer who really showed well when Appalachian State took on FBS standout Virginia Tech to open the season. proving to scouts that he has the talent to play with the big boys. Quick is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's 15th best receiver for the 2012 draft -- though I believe he could boost this grade once he answers concerns about his speed.

If Steed's name sounds familliar it should. He was the focus of a blog post just yesterday when his university, Furman, announced that he would be attending this year's Senior Bowl.

Steed may have taken the small school cornerback spot the Senior Bowl tries to annually feature. Some believed that prior to a run-in with the police, Montana's Johnson may have been the favorite for this honor.

Johnson, 6-2 and 204 pounds, had been steadily rising up scouts' boards. An all-conference selection after each of the past three seasons, Johnson was recognized as an All-American in 2011, posting 44 tackles, seven passes broken up and four interceptions -- including two he returned for touchdowns. A year earlier, Johnson was even more productive, totaling five picks and 11 passes broken up.

This year opponents had largely stayed away from him. Of his 31 tackles thus far, 24 were of the solo variety. He had not recorded his first interception of the season, but had posted six pass breakups and forced a fumble. For his career, Johnson has 13 career interceptions.

The rest of the FCS All-American team is here:


2011 AFCA Football Championship Subdivision Coaches’ All-America Team
Offense
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
WR Ryan Spadola 6-3 205 Jr. Lehigh Andy Coen Howell, N.J. (Freehold Township)
WR Brian Quick 6-5 220 Sr. Appalachian St. Jerry Moore Columbia, S.C. (Ridge View)
WR Nicholas Edwards 6-3 200 Jr. Eastern Washington Beau Baldwin Tacoma, Wash. (Foss)
OL Gino Gradkowski 6-4 295 Sr. Delaware K.C. Keeler Pittsburgh, Pa. (Seton-LaSalle)
OL Brett Moore 6-3 255 Sr. Georgia Southern Jeff Monken Warner Robins, Ga. (Northside)
C Bryan Boemer 6-2 317 Sr. Southern Illinois Dale Lennon St. Louis, Mo. (St. John Vianney)
OL Paul Cornick 6-6 309 Sr. North Dakota St. Craig Bohl Orono, Minn. (Orono)
OL J.C. Oram 6-4 300 Sr. Weber St. Ron McBride Marriott-Slaterville, Utah (Fremont)
QB Bo Levi Mitchell 6-2 210 Sr. Eastern Washington Beau Baldwin Katy, Texas (Katy)
RB Shakir Bell 5-8 185 So. Indiana St. Trent Miles Indianapolis, Ind. (Warren Central)
RB Tim Flanders 5-9 210 So. Sam Houston St. Willie Fritz Midwest City, Okla. (Midwest City)


Defense

Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
DL Ronnie Cameron 6-2 295 Sr. Old Dominion Bobby Wilder Westbury, N.Y. (Holy Trinity)
DL Andrew Schaetzke 6-4 245 Sr. Georgetown Kevin Kelly Toledo, Ohio (St. John’s Jesuit)
DL Ben Boothby 6-0 280 Sr. Northern Iowa Mark Farley Clinton, Iowa (Clinton)
DL Zack Nash 6-4 260 Sr. Sacramento St. Marshall Sperbeck Vacaville, Calif. (Vacaville)
LB Tyler Holmes* 6-0 224 Sr. Massachusetts Kevin Morris Blacksburg, Va. (Blacksburg)
LB Kadarron Anderson 6-1 234 Sr. Furman Bruce Fowler Greenwood, S.C. (Emerald)
LB Caleb McSurdy 6-1 242 Sr. Montana Robin Pflugrad Boise, Idaho (Borah)
DB Josh Norman 6-2 190 Sr. Coastal Carolina David Bennett Greenwood, S.C. (Greenwood)
DB Ryan Steed 5-11 188 Sr. Furman Bruce Fowler Mt. Pleasant, S.C. (Pinewood Prep)
DB Darnell Taylor 6-0 195 Jr. Sam Houston St. Willie Fritz Mesquite, Texas (Mesquite)
DB Trumaine Johnson* 6-3 210 Sr. Montana Robin Pflugrad Stockton, Calif. (Edison)


Specialists

Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
P David Harrington 6-2 185 Sr. Idaho St. Mike Kramer Marina, Calif. (Marina)
PK Zach Brown 6-1 200 Jr. Portland St. Nigel Burton Keizer, Ore. (McNary)
AP Brock Jackolski 5-10 198 Sr. Stony Brook Chuck Priore Shirley, N.Y. (William Floyd)

*-2010 All-American


Posted on: November 30, 2011 3:48 pm
 

Nick Foles signs with "super-agent" Dunn

With his collegiate career over, Arizona quarterback Nick Foles is looking ahead to the NFL.

The first step in that process is to determine which agent he'd like to sign with.

Check that step off the list.

According to Anthony Gimino of the Tuscon Citizen and a frequent contributor to The Sports XChange, Foles will sign with Athletes First, an agency presided by David Dunn, one of the bigger names in the business.

In signing with Dunn, Foles will prepare for the Combine and other individual workouts at Velocity Performance Center in Irvine, California. There, Foles will undergo training to improve his technique. Foles' father, Larry, told Gimino that his son will be working on his speed, agility and a "lazy foot" issue in which the record-breaking Arizona quarterback fails to point his lead foot in the direction he wants his pass to go.

Foles is expected to travel to Irvine and begin his training on January 3. Foles has been heavily rumored to be among the quarterbacks that several highly prominent all-star games (such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game) have been considering inviting. The decision to start his training in early January will not affect Foles' ability to participate in one of these games should he be invited and choose to participate.

In three seasons as Arizona's starting quarterback, Foles produced some sparkling numbers. He completed 66.8% of his passes for 10,011 yards and threw 67 touchdowns compared to only 33 interceptions. This past season Foles broke several school and conference records. The signal-caller in a spread offense, Foles attempted (and completed) more passes than any quarterback in Pac-10 (or Pac-12) history. He finished the year completing 387 of his 560 attempts (69.1%) for 4,334 yards and 28 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

There is a lot to like about Foles, not the least of which is the fact that at 6-5, 240 pounds he has the size NFL teams covet. There are some concerns about his arm strength, accuracy and mobility which have made some scouts skeptical about Foles' ability to transition to the NFL. Of course, another of Dunn's clients -- former Washington quarterback Jake Locker also had to answer plenty of pre-draft questions. He did so well enough to convince the Tennessee Titans to make him the No. 8 overall pick in last April's draft.  

Foles is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated quarterback potentially available in the 2012 draft. Only two senior quarterbacks -- Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden -- are currently rated higher by NFLDraftScout.com. He is viewed as a 3rd round value.

Posted on: November 8, 2011 6:27 pm
 

NFLPA to offer new all-star game open to juniors

According to an official press release, the NFL Players Association has teamed with AstroTurf to present a new collegiate all-star game.

The AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will take place at the Home Depot Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. The game is scheduled for January 21 -- the same week as the East-West Shrine Game, which used to be held in San Francisco, but now takes place in St. Petersburg, Florida and a week prior to the Senior Bowl. As with most all-star games, players will be brought in the previous Sunday for a full week of practice (and evaluation from scouts) prior to the game, itself.

Tickets (beginning at $15) are already being sold at TicketMaster.com and at HomeDepotCenter.com.

Like the East-West Shrine Game, the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will rely on the big names of some ex-NFL coaches to help stir up interest. The two teams in this contest will be led by former NFL head coaches Dick Vermeil and Tom Flores.

Perhaps most interesting about the game is that unlike the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and similar all-star events, the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will consider underclassmen for their 100 roster spots.

“Our mission is to provide these young men with an unforgettable all-star game experience but just as importantly with invaluable information for their transition out of college,” Clark Gaines, NFLPA Assistant Executive Director, was quoted as saying in the press release. “The NFLPA is a player’s primary resource for information on the business of football, and we will educate these players on how to succeed in the NFL and in their post-football careers.”

Most NFL scouts declined to comment on the new game. One, however, was intrigued by the idea that underclassmen might be involved.

"That's surprising [that underclassmen may be invited to participate], but it definitely is a way to be different from the Senior Bowl and the East-West," the scout, requesting anonymity, wrote in a text.

"Depending on who they're able to get play in the game, I'm sure scouts will be there to see it."

The scout is quite correct in that. The simple inclusion of underclassmen does make this game potentially unique and one to watch. As more details emerge, I'll post them here.

For now, if you'd like more information about the game you can follow the game organizers on Twitter and Facebook at: twitter.com/NFLPABowl and facebook.com/NFLPACollegiateBowl.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 8:21 pm
 

Sleeper CB prospect Johnson tased, arrested

Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson, considered one of the elite small school prospects of this year's draft, was tased and arrested by Missoula, Montana police early Sunday morning.

Johnson, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 10 rated cornerback for the 2012 draft, was arrested along with junior quarterback Gerald Kemp around 3 am outside of a loud party. One of the players hit police in the chest. Each player grabbed at officers, according to police. NBC Montana reports that each "resisted and were tased. Both Johnson and Kemp faces charges of obstructing a peace officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Both boded out of jail, and will appear in municipal court Monday."

Showing rare transparency that frankly other, bigger schools could take a lesson from, The University of Montana notes the arrests on their official website, quoting Missoula Police Sgt. Collin Rose as saying that "Alcohol appears to be a huge part of this. All charges are a misdemeanor at this time."

Misdemeanor or not, the situation is one that scouts will certainly want to take a look at. They'll be sure to do their due diligence as Johnson not only has pro size, he's proven to be quite a playmaker for the Grizzlies.

Johnson, 6-2 and 204 pounds, had been steadily rising up scouts' boards. An all-conference selection after each of the past three seasons, Johnson was recognized as an All-American in 2011, posting 44 tackles, seven passes broken up and four interceptions -- including two he returned for touchdowns. A year earlier, Johnson was even more productive, totaling five picks and 11 passes broken up.

This year opponents had largely stayed away from him. Of his 31 tackles thus far, 24 were of the solo variety. He had not recorded his first interception of the season, but had posted six pass breakups and forced a fumble. For his career, Johnson has 13 career interceptions.

There had already been speculation in the scouting community that the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game (among others) were considering inviting him. With the arrest, Johnson can only hope that he'll be allowed to participate in one of these premier all-star fesitivites not only to prove he can play with the elite talent in the country, but also to clear his name with pro teams.
Posted on: April 11, 2011 5:48 pm
 

Hawaii RB Alex Green rising as draft approaches

One of the more interesting things about the final few weeks before the draft is watching players move up (or down) draft boards. Often this is the result of surprising workout results or off-field concerns.

Every now and then players start to move up the board simply because teams are dedicating more time to watching the film.

Hawaii running back Alex Green could be the latest prospect to get this late, preferential treatment.

Much of Hawaii's offensive success in recent years has, of course, been through the passing game. The 6-0, 225 pound Green, however, gave the Warriors' their first 1,000 yard rusher since 1992 and surprised scouts with his natural running skills at the East-West Shrine Game and speed (4.45) at the Combine.

Teams are starting to look at Green as a legitimate middle round possibility, ahead of some very big names at the running back position.

The St. Louis Rams have recently been tied to Green as they are looking for a big back to get meaningful snaps behind star Steven Jackson. I've been able to confirm that the Rams are bringing in Green for a visit, but St. Louis is far from the only stop on his schedule.

In fact, the Eagles, Titans, Lions and Falcons have all either already flown Green in or will be doing so over the next few days.

Green is currently rated as a 5th round prospect and the No. 14 rated running back by NFLDraftScout.com -- though it appears that perhaps we are rating him far too low...


Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:03 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 10:06 pm
 

Video exclusive -- Blake Griffin hypes TE Cameron

Considering the rise to superstardom that NBA fans have seen this season from Los Angeles' Clipper Blake Griffin , we can probably take it for granted that he knows athleticism when he sees it.

And apparently, the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk champion sees it in former USC tight end Jordan Cameron, endorsing him as the best player in the 2011 draft in a viral video that began on YouTube and has since become an internet sensation, earning replays by the NFL Network and SportsCenter.

In the video Griffin spoofs Spike Lee's character Mars Blackmon from the Air-Jordan videos of the 1990s.

NFLDraftScout.com was given the link to the second cut of the video, which, while perhaps not quite as comical, does a better job of highlighting Cameron's unique athleticism and provides a "tale of the tape" between Cameron's workout at the Combine and the other tight ends available in the 2011 draft.



As the video notes, Cameron is the only player tested at the Combine this year who finished among the top five in all seven events (40-yard dash, short shuttle, three-cone drill, long shuttle, vertical jump, broad jump, bench press). Cameron finished either first or second among all tight ends tested in five of the seven events.

A little later in the video and Cameron's senior production while at USC is compared to that of 2010 tight end prospect Jimmy Graham. Graham, of course, looked like a rising young star in limited duty this season for the New Orleans Saints after being drafted in the third round.

Like Graham, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, Cameron's production on the football field comes in large part due to his skills on the basketball court. Cameron originally signed with BYU out of high school to play basketball and only returned to the football field four years ago while with Ventura Community College. Emerging as a highly touted JUCO prospect, Cameron signed with USC as a wide receiver (playing basketball in 2008) and only made the switch to tight end as a senior.

Despite his minimal production (16 catches for 126 yards and one touchdown at USC), the obvious athleticism seen in the video was just as apparent at the Combine and during Cameron's strong week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game.

Considering this year's weak class of tight ends, it isn't surprising to learn that Cameron is moving up draft boards. While undeniably raw, his size, speed, leaping ability and soft hands make him an ideal developmental prospect for today's the hybrid receiving tight ends dominating the league.

Don't be surprised if Cameron ultimately is drafted at a similar point as Graham (No. 95 overall)... or perhaps even earlier.

Link to original video
Link to second video (same as one above)


Posted on: March 9, 2011 9:44 pm
 

Pitt, Jax TE coaches head to Portland St Pro Day

Portland State tight end Julius Thomas is one of the fastest rising prospects in the draft. The former Viking is hoping to follow the same path as Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates as former basketball players whose unique combination of size, athleticism and soft hands make them playmaking tight ends in the NFL.

In a draft lacking great front-line talent at tight end, but strong in developmental prospects, Thomas ranks among the most intriguining. A strong effort during the all-star game circuit and an impressive showing at the Combine helped boost his stock further. Thomas was clocked at 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.31 in the short shuttle and demonstrated his explosiveness with a 37.5" vertical jump.

Thomas elected to sit on those numbers at his Pro Day Wednesday, instead focusing on positional drills for a number of teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers' tight ends coach James Daniel and Jacksonville Jaguars' tight ends coach Rob Boras were on hand to watch him run routes and catch passes.

Thomas was a standout hoops player with the Vikings, earning a repuation as one of the tougher post players in the Big Sky Conference and setting Portland State's team record for field goal percentage. He played only one season of collegiate football, after spending only one season on the gridiron in high school. Despite his inexperience, the 6-5, 246 pounder earned all-conference honors this season, catching 29 passes for 453 yards and two touchdowns. 

He was one of the stars of the East-West Shrine Game practices, impressing scouts with a blend of athleticism that some compared to Jermichael Finley's. Thomas caught the West's only touchdown in the Shrine Game, itself, and caught the two-point conversion seconds later, as well.  

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com