What To Take Away From The Shrine Game
During the month of January, the NFL playoffs tends to hog the spotlight. NCAA football news is generally relegated to coaching hirings and firings and recruiting trends. What seems to be forgotten is the players in between the two levels of the sport – athletes that have begun the journey to turn pro. Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game is one of the first milestones for these NFL hopefuls, and three Nittany Lions got an opportunity to show what they could bring to the field.
Quarless caught the right pass at the right time. Down by four with six seconds left in the game, the TE grabbed a touchdown delivered right down the middle of the field from Northwestern’s Mike Kafka. While Scouts Inc. didn’t list him as a guy who “really helped himself” with a good performance, it’s obvious that building upon his late season success will buoy his draft stock. Remember, Quarless’ off-the-field troubles had dampened the high hopes we all had after his great freshman season. His game-winning touchdown will likely help convince scouts that he has matured into a valuable talent.
Captain Clark didn’t torch the West’s defense, but a 70% completion rate is nothing to scoff at. He led two drives that resulted in two East field goals. While he didn’t give Todd McShay any more support for “interception machine” comments, the fact that he didn’t lead the squad to pay dirt likely minimized any increase in his demand for the NFL. Though his career in Happy Valley was impressive in terms of record, his statistics weren’t catering a first-day selection in the first place, so the best thing Clark can do is to show his ability to be a dependable back-up or “project” for an NFL team. Playing smart football is a great start.
According to the Collegian, Boone averaged a decent 46 yards per punt. Though the possibility he will go undrafted is likely, as NFL teams rarely carry more than one punter and players at the position can play far longer into their adult life, any exposure Boone can get to NFL scouts is good. Fellow Nittany Lion punter Jeremy Kapinos went undrafted before signing with the New York Jets, getting cut, resigning, getting cut, and signing with the Packers. It sounds like a tumultuous career, but Kapinos became Green Bay’s starter this year and led in yardage at the position for the NFL preseason. The point is, Boone may not find the right opportunity immediately, but showcasing his ability now will help in the long run.
While we’re still a long way from the NFL combine, that doesn’t mean that we won’t hear from aspiring pros until April. Under Armor’s Senior Bowl on January 30th will feature DT Jared Odrick. LB Sean Lee, has since decided not to play.
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