The 2021 college football season is over, but post-season bowls will be occurring over the next few weeks. The five all-star games Mountain West players traditionally take part in are the Tropical Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game (although the game won’t be played), the Hula Bowl, the Collegiate Bowl, and the Senior Bowl. This post will focus on the Shrine Game.
These events are used primarily as camps with a game at the end. Invited players get officially measured and weighed upon checking in. Then, there are a few days of practice with NFL coaches. The practice time for players is really at the heart of these events.
This is due to the time players and coaches can spend together honing their craft collaboratively. It gives the players a chance to be looked at by coaches who know the NFL game. What better way to understand where and how to improve than to hear it from the source. Receiving this feedback can give the players an edge as they head into their training for the NFL Combine or their respective Pro-day.
Finally, and somewhat related, this gives players a chance to stand out. If a player was overshadowed on his team by other talented individuals, wasn’t featured in his offense, or in the case of those in this article, playing in a Group of 5 conference, they have the opportunity to open the eyes of the coaches with their play and jump onto the radar before draft time. While the combine and pro-days are also good opportunities for this, the more chances of coaches seeing one play and compete, the better position they put themselves in.
This year, there are four players from the Mountain West is participating in the Hula Bowl. Below we will provide a brief description of each player and illustrate what kind of showing they need to improve their draft stock.
East/West Shrine Game Schedule:
The game is cancelled, and all players listed on the roster are honorary.
DB Avery Williams (Boise State)
Williams will be highlighted in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
WR Warren Jackson (Colorado State)
Jackson was arguable the top wide receiver and one of the top players in the Mountain West entering this season. But when the season was canceled, Jackson announced he would declare for the NFL rather than play the waiting game. Knowing there was a season, that choice may have moved him out of people’s minds, but that remains to be seen. He needs to remind scouts who he is: a wide receiver with great size who put up monster numbers and is a legit deep-threat on the outside. As long as he has been training and puts up the right numbers, he should be in the second wave of receivers in the draft.
P Ryan Stonehouse (Colorado State)
Ryan was a difference-maker as a punter during most of his career at Colorado State, routinely being thought of as the best in the conference. This past season he averaged 45.3 yards per punt and posted the lowest NET (36.2) of his career. Stonehouse not only has the leg but the strategy as well, knowing when to alter the power or direction of his kicks for the in-game situations. Demonstrating this ability to scouts is crucial for Stonehouse to separate himself from the pack.
DB Tariq Thompson (San Diego State)
Thompson will be highlighted in the Hula Bowl.