Shrine Game Preview

Written by Will Spencer on January 15, 2010

Every year in January, draft season officially kicks off with the start of the college all-star games. The first of the two major all-star games is the East-West Shrine game. While the premier talent usually plays at the Under Armour Senior Bowl, the Shrine Game still has a lot to offer.

This season, there are a few notable players on the Shrine Game rosters that didn’t receive invitations to the Senior Bowl, which is leaving some scratching their heads. The most notable of these players is Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy. Coming into the season, Hardy was highly regarded as the top senior defensive end in the nation. With a season ending injury, he plummeted down draft boards. Hardy certainly has the talent to hold his own amoung the best in the country, but he’ll have to settle for the Shrine Game at first. If he takes advantage of this opportunity, he may receive an invitation to the Senior Bowl after Shrine Game week. It’s common for players to opt out of playing in the Senior Bowl and there are always injury replacements.

Also playing on the East defensive line is Duke defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase. Vince is a large and strong player with long arms and has lined up at both defensive tackle and defensive end for Duke. While he’s had some injury concerns, he has shown the ability to stand out on a poor Duke defense, catching the attention of scouts. If Oghobaase can hold his own with some of the top talent from across the country, he’ll find him self climbing up draft boards between now and April.

Looking towards the offensive side of the ball, another player to watch for is Brigham Young tight end Dennis Pitta. Pitta had himself a solid senior year where he led the Cougars with 62 receptions and 8 touchdowns. While he’ll need to work on his blocking ability, Pitta is a reliable receiver and was the favorite target of quarterback Max Hall, who is also playing in the Shrine Game.

One of the greatest things about college all-star games is that it allows star players from smaller schools to show their talents against some of the top players in the nation. That’s what will make watching Bowling Green wide receiver Freddie Barnes so interesting this year. Barnes set the NCAA record for singe season receptions at 155 and had a phenomenal Humanitarian Bowl against Idaho, catching 17 passes for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns. Barnes has decent size for an NFL receiver at 6’0″ 210 pounds and also has adequate speed. Should he perform well in the Shrine Game, NFL scouts and GMs will certainly take notice and keep a close eye on Barnes as draft season goes on.

This year’s Shrine game takes place on Saturday, January 23rd at 3:30 pm, EST. The game will take place at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando Florida. Be sure to check back afterwards for our analysis of the game. We’ll also take you through select players to tell you if their performance helped, or hurt their draft stock. At Draft Breakdown, we believe you can never have too much information on a player, so check back frequently to track your favorite prospects all the way up to the draft.

Will Spencer

Will is the founder and President of Draft Breakdown & has been scouting draft prospects since 2002. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including the USA Today Draft Preview Magazine, the official website of the Baltimore Ravens, Ravens Insider and The Orange and Brown Report. Will has previous playing experience as a defensive end in the AFA, is currently a member of the Football Writers Association of America and graduated from the SMWW Football Scouting course in 2009.

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