Some of the top seniors in college football played their final game at Tropicana Field today in the East-West Shrine Game. The West won the game 14-10 on a late touchdown grab by Steven Dunbar, though it was a player from the opposing side that stuck out the most. (Winners and losers are in no particular order)
Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
Easily the most explosive offensive player in the game. Fountain had multiple big catch and runs, showing off his speed after the catch. Fountain also had a 30 yard punt return. A small school wide receiver who came in relatively unknown made a name for himself with a great performance today. Fountain was the biggest playmaker for either team.
The East is in business!— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 20, 2018
Riley Ferguson connects with Daurice Fountain for a big gain!
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Bilal Nichols, DE, Delaware
Nichols reportedly impressed in practice during the week, and he made a big play for the West team early in the game, forcing a J.T. Barrett fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Nichols was able to create pressure throughout the game. Another small school player who may start to get some attention.
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
Jackson was one of the bigger name players in this game, and he didn’t disappoint. Jackson was hard to bring down, often avoiding the first tackler. The Northwestern product is a quick and shifty back, with some sneaky power, that could be a change of pace back in the NFL. He didn’t break off any huge plays, but Jackson was used both running the ball and as a receiver on check downs, and consistently picked up around at least five to seven yards per touch.
Poona Ford, DT, Texas
Ford may not be the tallest, but man is he big and strong. Ford had a sack and was very tough to block on the interior. Ford had an exceptionally good week of practice leading up to the game, so much so, that he earned an invite to the Senior Bowl next weekend. The first team All-Big 12 defensive lineman showed some excellent flashes in the East-West Shrine Game.
East defensive ends
Kentavius Street of N.C. State and Chad Thomas of Miami were fantastic. Thomas created pressure throughout the game, and reportedly had a great week of practice. Though the more impressive of the two in the game was Street. Street showed great burst off the line of scrimmage, and was around the ball seemingly every play. Street was overshadowed on a Wolfpack defensive front that also had Bradley Chubb, but he showed today that he too could make it in the NFL. Thomas had very inconsistent tape with Miami, but reportedly showed great pass rushing skills in practice. He showed flashes of those skills during the game, but not as much as Street.
Steven Dunbar, WR, Houston
Dunbar had a 34 yard game winning touchdown catch for the West team. He hauled in the ball with a defender draped on him. When given the opportunity, Dunbar showed that he has strong and reliable hands, a trait the Ravens could look for. Though despite how physical and sure-handed he is, Dunbar didn’t seem to have an ability to create separation.
Hamilton had a big drop in the first half, and wasn’t able to haul in a ball later that he probably could have caught. In the East team’s final drive of the game, Hamilton was ruled to have a catch on a long pass over the middle from J.T. Barrett, but had the East-West Shrine Game had replay, it would have been overturned. Hamilton was one of the bigger name wide receivers in the game, as the career receptions leader at Penn State, but he did not help himself today.
With maybe the exception of Nic Shimonek, no quarterback had a very good game. The biggest name, J.T. Barrett, underwhelmed, and no quarterback put up any notable numbers. Play calling in this game was conservative, but the stable of quarterbacks that played did miss a number of throws. All in all, and uninspiring effort from the East-West Shrine Game’s QB crop.
Both defensive units dominated this game, and it started with controlling the line of scrimmage right from the start. The offensive lines for both teams were dominated by the opposing defensive line. There were not any offensive lineman that stuck out to me as having a really strong game. Facing all NFL caliber pass defensive lineman, this game didn’t create much confidence in the offensive line prospects.