Long looked upon as the lesser of the college Senior All-Star games, the East-West Shrine Game has nonetheless played host to scores of dynasty-relevant players. Players such as Brett Favre, Steve Smith, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Brock Purdy have taken the field in this charity contest on their way to NFL careers.
Last year’s game featured numerous players who made an early impact in their NFL careers. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Aiden O’Connell, Zay Flowers, A.T. Perry, and Luke Schoonmaker have all seen meaningful snaps in their rookie NFL season. This year will be no different, with talented players taking the field in the name of charity. This article will highlight some of the bigger names from a fantasy perspective and give you a primer ahead of this year’s contest. Without further ado, let us examine the players.
Austin Reed (Western Kentucky) 6’2″ 220 lbs.
Reed has taken a surreptitious route to the Shrine Bowl. The Western Kentucky star quarterback originally committed to FCS Southern Illinois before dropping to DII West-Florida, where he won a National Championship. On the heels of that success, Reed took his talents to Western Kentucky, where he thrived. You can see his statistics below.
Reed is an interesting prospect heading into the Shrine Bowl. He has decent athleticism and a nice arm. He can use that athleticism to make some off-schedule plays but he does lack when it comes to the finer mechanics of the position. Reed takes good care of the football and has a winning record at every level he has played at.
He has a chance to solidify himself as an NFL prospect with his play at the East-West Shrine Bowl. Keep an eye on how he does at both practices and during the game. He has the potential to be a third-day draft pick and, if in the right position, could work his way into a meaningful role, not unlike last year’s Shrine Bowl participant Aidan O’Connell.
Devin Leary (Kentucky) 6’1″ 216 lbs.
Leary is yet another Super Senior playing in this year’s All-Star schedule. The successful gunslinger spent four years at North Carolina State before transferring to the SEC to fill the shoes left by Will Levis. Despite some high expectations, he didn’t find the same level of success with the Wildcats compared to his time with the Wolfpack. You can see his stats below.
Leary possesses a nice arm that could help him make a team at the next level. He is mobile enough within the pocket but will never be confused with Justin Fields. He could still find his way into the back half of the NFL draft with a good showing at the Shrine Bowl. If he makes throws like the ones below, he could impress some of the coaches in attendance.
Frank Gore Jr. (Southern Mississippi) 5’10″ 201 lbs.
The son of future Hall-of-Famer Frank Gore Sr., the Southern Mississippi running back certainly carries a lot of family weight on his shoulders. Gore was not as heralded as his father spending the entirety of his career with the Golden Eagles. He was an extremely productive player in the Sun Belt, garnering first-team honors once and second-team nods twice. You can see his impressive numbers below.
Gore runs with excellent balance and leverage. He brings a nasty jump cut to the table and is a make you miss in a phonebooth type of player. Due to his lack of overall size, he will likely never be a three-down back at the next level. However, he can certainly provide an excellent change of pace option at the pro level.
The level of competition he faced will be somewhat of a concern but the Shrine Bowl will give him a chance to practice and play against some upper-level competition. Think of a poor man’s Tayje Speers. Just check out the highlights of his record-setting performance in the 2022 Lending Tree Bowl. He will be a fun player to watch in practice and up through the draft.
Ray Davis (Kentucky) 5’10″ 216 lbs.
Davis has been a well-traveled college football running back. He has put up over 1,000 scrimmage yards in a season for three different programs over his time in school. Davis was one of the best running backs in the SEC during the 2023 season. The fifth-year senior made excellent use of his final season in the college ranks after transferring from Vanderbilt by putting up career heights across the board in every category. He helped lead the Wildcats to a winning season and Gator Bowl appearance while finishing fourth in the conference in rushing yards. You can see his numbers below.
Davis is a powerful runner who can threaten defenses in multiple different ways. He is certainly not a track athlete but has enough speed to hit defenses in both the run and pass game. His ability to succeed at every school he played for indicates his scheme adaptability. He is the type of runner that can easily stick on an NFL roster if given the chance. Being able to run with power and make catches like the one below will help his cause.
Jawhar Jordan (Louisville) 5’10″ 185 lbs.
Jordan has steadily improved in every season since transferring from Syracuse to Louisville. The diminutive runner is dynamic with the ball in his hands and, despite his small stature, runs with nice power. This past season, he set career highs across the board in virtually every statistical way. You can find his numbers below.
Jordan burst onto the national scene when he had the best game of his career against a highly ranked Notre Dame on national television. He reminds me a little bit of former North Carolina star and current Cardinals running back Michael Carter. Both players were able to use their smaller stature to their advantage and run with power as well as burst. He is a capable receiver who is an asset in all areas of the game.
At the NFL level, he could provide a nice change-of-pace back who, if in the right situation, would be a nice dynasty asset. Just check out his highlights against Notre Dame above.
Isaiah Davis (South Dakota St.) 6’1″ 220 lbs.
This is a player that many of you might not know about. FCS players often go under the radar until a game like the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game. However, despite his lesser college profile, Davis is a player that you should pay close attention to at the upcoming Shrine Bowl. He is a big, bruising runner that South Dakota State rode to back-to-back National Championships. His stats below serve to highlight his high-end production.
While Davis will never be confused for Christian McCaffrey, he does also possess some decent hands bringing in over 20 catches in each of the last two seasons. When you put on the tape of Davis, I promise you are going to be entertained.
This kid plays with a ton of heart and effort. He will come into the NFL with an FCS chip on his shoulder and seek to find a place on both an NFL roster and your dynasty squads. In a class that is as weak as this year’s running back crop, Davis has a legit chance to rise up draft boards based on how he practices and plays at the Shine Bowl. Keep an eye out for news on this bruiser.
Rasheen Ali (Marshall) 6’0″ 209 lbs.
Ali burst onto the college football scene as a redshirt freshman, earning First Team All-Conference USA honors for the Thundering Herd. On the heels of a fantastic first campaign, he was robbed of the bulk of his sophomore campaign due to injury before coming back successfully in 2023. You will find his stats below.
Ali has excellent size and burst. He is equally dynamic as a rusher and receiver. Ali was a driving force that helped the Herd on their way to a pair of Bowl games during his tenure. He has prototypical traits for an NFL back. In a thin running back class, Ali has the potential to work his way up the draft board with an excellent combine and showing at the Shrine Bowl. Keep an eye on him, as he has a lot to gain if he can make plays like the one below.
Isaiah Williams (Illinois) 5’10″ 180 lbs.
Williams is one of the best receivers to come out of Illinois in recent memory. The former high school quarterback has a nice skill set he will bring to the next level. His speed and explosiveness allowed him to get better every year in Champaign. During his final year, he matched or bested his stats in every category. His play was enough to garner first-team All-Big10 honors alongside Marvin Harrison Jr. You can see his numbers below.
Williams will never be confused with his All-Big10 fellow honoree. However, he does bring an NFL skill set to the table. Williams is a fine separator who can routinely create space and give his quarterback. He even garnered to overused moniker of human joystick during his time in college. It is really fun to watch WIlliams’ tape. He has got some crazy quicks and put up some nice tape in his senior year.
I see some shades of last year’s Shrine Bowl participant, Zay Flowers when I watch his tape. Just check out some of these moves and be sure to scout him and follow his Shrine Bowl practice and performance.
Bub Means (Pittsburgh) 6’2″ 204 lbs.
Means is an interesting prospect. He cuts a much different picture than most of the other receivers at this year’s Shrine Bowl. In 2023, Means put us the best numbers of his career. This was even though Pitt had a rough time figuring out the quarterback position. You will see his numbers below.
Means will present an interesting prospect at the next level. The question for the youngster will be how well he can convince staff at the NFL level that there is some untapped potential to be mined. When you watch his film, you will see that there may indeed be something there. Means will have the most important game of his career at the Shrine Bowl. That game and the practices leading up to it will be extremely important for the youngster. Hopefully, for his sake, he can make some plays like the one you see below.
Malik Washington (Virginia) 5’8″ 194 lbs.
Washington is one of the most well-known players at this year’s East-West Shrine Bowl. The standout from UVA made excellent use of his fifth-year option, with the Cavaliers breaking out in every manner, setting career highs across the board. You can see his career college stats below.
When you scout tape on Washington, the first thing that stands out is his short, compact stature. At 5’9″, 192 lbs., he is very similar in size to Flowers. While Washington does not possess Flowers’ elite quicks, he does have plenty of speed to threaten teams. Despite being on the smaller side with his stature, Washington plays big. He was routinely used out of the backfield like Deebo Samuel and showed excellent toughness both as a runner and at the catch point. He is tough, compact, and has excellent hands and vision.
Washington’s testing numbers at the combine will go a long way to dictating his draft stock. Keep an eye out for news about how Washington does at practices leading up to the Shine Bowl, and of course, tune in to the game to get a live look at this intriguing player.
Tahj Washington (USC) 5’10″ 175 lbs.
Washington is yet another Super Senior who will be playing at the Shrine Bowl in 2024. The talented receiver began his collegiate career at Memphis. After flashing some nice potential in his redshirt freshman season, he transferred to USC and proceeded to put up three quality years, getting better and better every season. You can see his stats below.
Washington seems to be a player who is quicker than fast. He does, however, have enough speed to hurt defenses that do not respect his game. Washington worked as the first option for Caleb Williams and the Trojans in 2023. At the next level, he feels like he will be a nice slot receiver. The question comes down to how fast he will run at the combine. He has nice tape and enough wheels to make plays like the one below, so there is certainly something here to work with in Washington.
Dallin Holker (Colorado St.) 6’4″, 235 lbs.
Holker is an older prospect for a player entering the NFL draft. He spent the first few years of his college career at BYU before going on a Mormon mission. When he came back to college, he decided to transfer to Colorado State. While at Fort Collins, he reestablished himself, eventually grabbing the starting tight end job and finishing as a finalist for the Mackey Award as the top tight end in all of college football. You can see his career production below.
Holker certainly made the most of his time at Colorado State. He more than doubled his career numbers and displayed an excellent knack for making big plays and finding the endzone. With his ability to both succeed as a blocker and receiver, he will certainly hear his name called on draft day.
How he practices and plays at the Shrine Bowl will potentially go a long way to determining just how early he hears that call. Keep an eye on him throughout the process, as he has an exciting skill set, as displayed above.
Tip Reiman (Illinois) 6’5″ 270 lbs.
Reiman is an old-school tight end. He is a big bruiser who can push the pile and yet still bring the ball down in the passing game when called upon. Now, his raw numbers are not overly impressive, but he has displayed a soft set of hands when called upon. You can see his career stats below.
Reiman will have a job playing on Sundays. He will be a nice blocking tight end on an NFL roster. The key to finding fantasy success on the next level will be Reiman landing on a team that has a key role for a tight end. It is possible that he could just be a Drew Sample type of player. However, there could be something there, given the right spot. You can see below that he does have the ability to make some noise as a red zone target.
This year’s East-West Shrine Game is no different than any other year. There will be plenty of players gracing the field who will be drafted to NFL squads later this year. While this game has often been somewhat of an afterthought compared to the Senior Bowl, it is an excellent contest nonetheless. The Shine Bowl not only has the honor of being the oldest college all-star game, but it also has the distinction of benefitting Shriners Hospitals.
As a Shriner myself, I would like to make a pitch to our readers to consider donating to Shriners Hospitals. These facilities are 100% free to Children and their families. There is no more noble cause than helping children in need. The fact that we can get some All-Star football on top of that is pretty special as well. Do yourself a favor and check out the latest installment of the East-West Shrine Game. You might just find the next great sleeper.
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