Yesterday, we began breaking down the 2017 East vs. West Shrine Game by looking at some top names on the East Team. In the second part of this preview, we’ll take a look at some of the more intriguing prospects from the West Team. This year’s group is pretty interesting, and has some more high profile names than last year’s squad.
Here are some names to keep an eye on from the West’s roster:
Gunner Kiel, QB, Cincinnati, 6’4” 225
A former 5* recruit in high school, he became known for de-committing from Indiana and LSU before enrolling at Notre Dame, after which he then transferred to Cincinnati. Kiel started his career at Cincinnati well, nearly defeating Ohio State and throwing 6 TDs against Toledo in his first collegiate game. However, from that season it’s been a rough road for the former blue chip recruit. He’s got a big arm and talent, but after a scary neck injury in his junior season, he was the backup throughout his senior season. He got this invite on merit alone, but he could impress and raise his stock throughout this process to become an UDFA.
Joe Williams, RB, Utah, 5’11” 205
Williams has one of the more odd paths to get here. After retiring from football earlier this season, Joe Williams came back and led the Utes to a very successful season. A back with home run speed, he will undoubtedly have to answer questions about his “passion and love for the game” after his brief retirement but Williams will likely get drafted. All-Star games aren’t always the best situation for running backs to show their stuff, but Williams could show up during the week of practices.
Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Wisconsin, 5’11” 205
Ogunbowale also has a very interesting path to the Shrine Game. A former walk-on cornerback at Wisconsin, he wasn’t on the initial 105-man roster his freshman season. After a position switch to running back during his sophomore year, he led the Badgers in rushing in 2015 in relief of Corey Clement, and was an instrumental part of the offense in 2016. He’s a reliable pass protector and a shifty receiver out of the backfield, so his role in the NFL will likely be as a 3rd down back. He’s nearly impossible to bring down 1 on 1 in the open field, and he’ll make some team really happy in the 6th round or later.
Austin Carr, WR, Northwestern, 6’1” 200
Another former walk-on, Carr led the Big Ten in receiving in 2016. He’s a prototypical slot receiver, and is pretty comparable to Jared Abbrederis without quite the top end speed the former Badger had. Carr just gets open, despite being the primary concern of Northwestern opponents all season. He had a huge game against Ohio State this year, and will find his way onto a team, drafted or not.
Gabe Marks, WR, Washington State, 6’0” 187
Easily the best press conference in the country, Marks tested the waters a year ago, but returned to school after receiving a Day 3 grade from the Advisory Committee. After his senior season, he finds himself in a similar spot, somewhere in the Day 3 mix. Marks has had a prolific career in the Mike Leach Air Raid offense, but lacks in the remarkable physical traits to separate him from the receivers in the 6’0” 185-200 lb range. This is the environment where he could have a big game, however.
Deatrich Wise Jr., EDGE, Arkansas, 6’6” 270
A bit of a tweener prospect, Wise’s performance in practice this week could go a long way to help evaluators decide where to put him. With some of the longest arms I’ve seen on a prospect this season, Wise had a bit of an underwhelming senior season. However, with arms that length, he could be sought after as a 5 technique in an odd front, but I think he probably ends up as a 7 technique strong end in a 4-3. His dad played in the NFL, which may seem trivial but teams like the pedigree.
Josh Tupou, NT, Colorado, 6’3” 345
Among other reasons, one of the more important components to the Buffaloes rise to prominence this season was Topou, who clogged the middle in their 3-4 scheme. He could probably stand to lose 10 lbs or so, but his status as a clogger nose tackle is pretty firmly entrenched. This will be a good test for the big man against an all-star lineup on interior offensive linemen.
Josh Augusta, NT, Missouri, 6’5” 375
I know, I did a double take too, when I saw the measurements on Augusta. A former highly touted recruit from Peoria, Ill, some quick film on Augusta confirmed what I feared. He’s way too big. You can even tell in his stance he looks uncomfortable, and he’s not explosive off of the ball. He was listed at 355 at Mizzou, but I’d be willing to put some money on him being heavier than that. While in a deep defensive tackle rotation at Missouri, he registered 23 tackles and a sack this past season, but he’s got to trim down if he wants a chance at the NFL. Somewhere near 335-340 would make him a bit quicker and more able to move. He doesn’t offer much of a pass rush, so he has to be dominant against the run this week if he wants a chance.
Jimmie Gilbert, LB, Colorado, 6’5” 230
Another tweener, Gilbert was a stand up rusher in Colorado’s 3-4 scheme, and generated some nice pass rush, notching 10.5 sacks in his senior season. The issue lies with Gilbert’s weight. His slight build is amplified by his height. If Gilbert can get up around 245-250, he could likely stay in an edge rushing role, but at 230 he’s relegated to a off-ball linebacker spot. His ability to transition either to linebacker or his body will decide his future in football.
Leon McQuay III, S, USC, 6’1” 195
This is the list of 5* recruits from the state of Florida in 2013: Vernon Hargreaves III (Buccaneers 1st round pick in 2016), Laremy Tunsil (Dolphins 1st round pick in 2016), Matthew Thomas (Still at FSU), Derrick Henry (Titans 2nd round pick in 2016, Heisman winner), Kelvin Taylor (49ers 6th round pick in 2016), Mackensie Alexander (Vikings 2nd round pick in 2016), and Leon McQuay III. Slightly edging out Joey Bosa in the rankings, it’s clear how talented McQuay III is when put in this group. While USC has struggled as a defensive unit over the past few seasons, McQuay III can use a good week in St. Petersburg to increase his stock to a league that needs safeties.
Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado, 6’1” 206
A member of the uber talented Colorado secondary, Thompson ended up with 7 interceptions in 2016, including 2 a piece in big games against Stanford and Utah. He also has the best name in the draft. #InTedWeTrust. At least three members of the Colorado secondary will get drafted: Thompson, along with fellow Shrine Gamer Ahkello Witherspoon, who is out for the week with an injury, as well as Chidobie Awuzie, a corner who could go on Day 2.