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East-West Shrine Game preview

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By Billy Wellner

The senior all-star game schedule commences this Saturday (3 p.m. ET on ESPN2) with the East-West Shrine Game. Second-tier prospects? I think not. There'll be plenty of talent on display with plenty more to prove. Let's take a look (players listed in alphabetical order):

East Squad

DE Rahim Alem (LSU) — Didn't provide the pass rush impact expected of him in his first year as a full-time starter, notching only 4½ sacks. Likely projects to an outside rush 'backer at the next level and needs to show the athletic ability to drop into coverage as well.

WR Freddie Barnes (Bowling Green) — Monster production but will need to assure those weary of his slow 40-yard dash time that he can consistently separate against man coverage.

QB Darryl Clark (Penn State) — Has all the tools physically, but why was Penn State's offense so inconsistent and sluggish under him? It always seems like a struggle with Clark under center, and his inability to consistently make second- and third-line reads will hinder him.

QB Mike Kafka (Northwestern) — In this year's weak quarterback class, Kafka suddenly becomes draftable, but is he even better than current Bears third-stringer and former Wildcats star Brett Basanez?

OG Sergio Render (Virginia Tech) — Wildly inconsistent but has the size and arm length to contribute. Can he put it all together?

DE Willie Young (North Carolina State) — Like Alem (see above), Young will be making the transition to outside linebacker ... and talk about long arms! Young's quickness has never been questioned, but can this string-bean get physical against size and also stand up against the run?

 

West Squad

CB Brian Jackson (Oklahoma) — Very good size, long arms and physical. Jackson helped limit Texas' Jordan Shipley to four receptions for 22 yards. The questions with him: Can he sink his hips and how well can he run?

LB Keaton Kristick (Oregon State) — Undersized, skinny, slender frame, but does anyone play with more attitude? The emotional leader of the Beavers' defense plays with reckless abandon. He could improve his standing with a couple more knockout shots.

RB Dimitri Nance (Arizona State) — Struggled through the midpoint of the season with a shoulder injury and consequently fell off the radar. Has very good size (5-9, 225), a thick lower body build, and good leg drive, but the top-end is lacking.

WR David Reed (Utah) — I've been on the bandwagon for most of the season. Reed better prove me right.

DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (Washington) — Lean build with average athletic ability but finished as the Huskies' all-time sacks leader, plays hard and flashes a nice spin move.

RB Keith Toston (Oklahoma State) — Not as highly touted as oft-injured teammate RB Kendall Hunter but really stepped up in Hunter's absence this season and shows the run strength and burst to excel in a zone-blocking scheme.

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