The East-West Shrine game; why and who you should watch as a Texans fan

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Why should I watch it?

Guess what is on for football fans this Saturday.

College Football? Nope

NFL? Nope

East-West Shrine Game? Yep

That’s right, it’s the first Saturday since August 18th, 2018 that there were no college football or NFL games on. Meaning the dark days of the off-season is closing in, so you should soak up all the football you can get beforehand.

Though the Shrine game won’t be as competitive or alluring as an SEC or Big 12 championship, the competition is legit. The rosters are stacked of prospects with NFL ready talent.

However, the allure comes from the players are from smaller schools. The game gives such players a national stage to create a name for themselves, in turn creating players playing with everything on the line.

Are you intrigued yet? If so, you might want to catch the game on NFL Network at 2:00 P.M. Central, Saturday January 19th.

You might be asking yourself, if I do watch who should I keep an eye on? Great question, now let me help you solve that below.

Who should I watch?

According to Texans insider Patrick Starr, the team has met with 12 players at the St. Petersburg, Florida event.

A short-report on each of the prospects the Texans met is below.

Jimmy Moreland – Cornerback – James Madison

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Moreland is a 5’10”, 175 lb outside cornerback from Royal Palm Beach, Florida. He racked up several awards at the FCS level including:

  • Consensus First-Team All American
  • STATS Buck Buchanan Award Finalist
  • AP First-Team All American
  • Walter Camp All-American
  • FCS ADA First Team All-American
  • AFCA FCS First Team All-American
  • STATS FCS First Team All-American
  • HERO Sports FCS First Team All-American
  • Phil Steele FCS First Team All-American
  • HERO Sports Fan’s Choice FCS Defensive Player of the Year
  • Athlon Sports FCS Postseason All-America Team
  • CAA Defensive Player of the Year
  • Bill Dudley Award Finalist
  • First Team All-CAA
  • First Team ECAC All-Star

A large number of awards were deserved as Moreland finished his college football career with some impressive stats.

In 56 career games played, the cornerback tallied 208 total tackles, 2 sacks, 18 interceptions, a forced fumble, and 63 passes pass deflection.

According to multiple draft experts, Moreland has been one of the best cornerbacks during practice as he seems to play above his listed 5’10” height.

Derick Roberson – Defensive End – Sam Houston State

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Roberson is from San Antonio, Texas, and measures in at 6’4″ and 250 lbs. Prior to the 2016 season, he transferred from Texas to Sam Houston State.

In 2018, he led the nation in sacks with 15, which earned him an AP FCS All-American nod. He also tallied five forced fumbles, 68 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, and two pass deflections in that same stretch. His final college career numbers included 123 total tackles, 23 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, 8 pass deflections, and an interception.

Roberson is also a finalist for the Buck Buchanon Award (FCS best defensive player) and is a former four-star recruit.

Zedrick Woods – Safety – Ole Miss

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Woods is a Lake City, Florida native who spent four seasons at Ole Miss. He is a prototypical box safety with a sturdy frame (5’11, 205 lbs) built to stop the run. He is a disciplined tackler that often takes proper angles.

He filled up the stat sheet in his senior year at Oxford compiling 79 total tackles, two passes interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and a touchdown. He was one of three defensive Rebels that played in every 2018 game.

In the NFL he projects as a special team ace due to his stout tackling, and a lack of technique, speed, and range that is coveted to play see consistent snaps at safety.

Olisaemeka Udoh – Offensive Tackle – Elon

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Olisaemeka Udoh is a 6’5″, 351 offensive tackle who hails from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He appeared in 45 games while at Elon and played most of his snaps at right tackle.

He also possesses the body the NFL loves in tackle prospects.

Udoh’s mobility, stature, and length helped turned heads while at practice, while his play earned him a call up to the prestigious Senior Bowl. The call up is an addition to already being invited to the East-West Shrine and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

At Eden, Udoh played in 45 games and was named an All-American by STATS FCS, Phill Steele, and HERO Sports. The honors are, in large part, due to Eden’s ground attack which averaged nearly 200 yards per game.

Landis Durham – Defensive End – Texas A&M

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Landis Durham is a 6’3″, 255 lb defensive end from Plano, Texas. He was also Texas A&M’s sack leader in each of the past two seasons.

In 2018, Durham finished third on the team in tackles for loss with 9.5, and first in quarterback hurries with five. He finished his A&M career with 17.5 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss, 111 total tackles, a pass deflection, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in 30 games.

Durham is best known for his refined hand technique and an array of pass-rush moves. But, his NFL projection is bleak due to below average bend, size, and athleticism. Despite such negative traits, he was a productive player on the Aggies that could boost his stock in the Shrine game.

Marquis Young – Running Back – Massachusetts

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Marquis Young is a scat back with an extra few inches on top. The Fairport, New York native measures in at 6′, 195 lbs with some serious burst and agility to add.

Young got to show off his speed and quickness at UMass as he finished his career with big production. In 2018, Young attempted 154 rushes for 791 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also had 26 catches for 147 yards.

During his UMass tenure, Young racked up 3,631 yards on 5.3 yards per carry in 47 games. He also added 29 rushing touchdowns, 90 receptions, 671 receiving yards, and two touchdowns as a receiver.

Per draft pundits, that same productive player has shown up in practice. He has been nothing short of eye-opening during East-West practice, which has earned him the title of best running back from some.

Cole Holcomb – Linebacker – North Carolina

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Cole Holcomb is a former walk-on from New Smyrna, Florida who earned a scholarship prior to the 2016 season. He provides good size at 6’1″ and 235 pounds.

Holcomb is most known for an ability to track the ball down in defending either the run or pass and ending those plays with a textbook tackle.

In 43 career games, Holcomb tallied 327 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, 12 pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. He finished 6th in the ACC in solo tackles in 2016 (62), and 2018 (59).

Ryan Davis – Wide Receiver – Auburn

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Ryan Davis should see a lot of fans in the audience, as he is from St. Petersburg, Florida (where the event takes place) himself. The 5’9″, 185 lb receiver also earned plenty of fans at Auburn.

Known for his shiftiness, field vision, and running after the catch abilities, Davis was a slot weapon at Auburn. In 2017, he set an Auburn single-season record for catches with 84 and added 815 yards and five touchdowns to that number.

Ryan Davis didn’t stop breaking in 2017. In 2018 he broke Auburn’s career record for catches, finishing with 178. For his NCAA career, Davis finished with 1,555 yards, 8 touchdowns, and three passing touchdowns. In 2018 alone, he had 546 yards, 69 receptions, and 1 touchdown.

Jordan Brailford – Defensive End – Oklahoma State

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Brailford is a 6’3″, 250 lb, Tulsa, Oklahoma native with some solid production under his belt. He is also known for having solid length at the edge position with a repertoire of moves to beat offensive linemen.

2018 was Brailford’s best statistical season as he finished the year with 55 total tackles, 10 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles in 13 games played.

Despite missing the 2016 season with a shin injury, Brailford finished his career having played 35 games. During that span, he racked up 135 total tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception.

Ulysees Gilbert III – Linebacker – Akron

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Ulysees Gilbert III is another Florida native, as he stems from Ocala, Florida.

Gilbert could be considered as a bit of a tweener. As a 6’1″, 225 lb inside linebacker he will need to add some weight to be effective in the NFL. However, his speed and game might be NFL ready.

During the East-West Shrine practice, Gilbert could be seen flying to the ball with blazing speed. He also has shown good awareness and tools as a coverage linebacker. It’s also nice to know that Gilbert didn’t miss a game in his college career.

In 2018, Gilbert finished the season with 85 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, and two touchdowns. For his career, Gilbert accumulated some monster stats to the tune of 357 total tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, three interceptions, 8 pass deflections, 4 fumble recoveries, three touchdowns, and three forced fumbles.

Simply put, don’t be surprised to see Gilbert make some plays as an off-ball linebacker in both the East-West Shrine game and the NFL.

Daylon Mack – Defensive End – Texas A&M

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Daylon Mack is a former five-star recruit from Gladewater, Texas that never seemed to blossom into the star he was supposed to be. Though, a large part of that could be due to his limited 6′, 320 lb frame.

Mack finished his Aggie career with some disappointing stats relative to his hype. He racked up 108 total tackles, 8 sacks, two pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. But, 2018 was his best year yet. He added 32 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one pass deflection in his senior year.

Mack is an explosive athlete, but he lacks refinement and a plan when rushing the passer. Though, he does offer value as a run stuffer as he has quite a bit of power at the point of attack.

Terry Wright – Wide Receiver – Purdue

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Wright is a dual sport athlete from Memphis, Tennessee as he ran track and played football for the Boilermakers. So don’t be surprised to see the 5’11”, 180 lb receiver blazing past defenders on Saturday.

The East-West Shrine is a perfect stage for Wright to show off his skills, as he has played college football for only two seasons. In those two seasons Wright had 57 receptions for 742 yards and 5 touchdowns in 19 games.

Though little is known about Wright’s abilities on the football field, he has the speed to burn to make him an interesting prospect for the wide receiver depth hungry Texans.

So there you have it; a game of football to watch on a late-January Saturday and 12 reasons to do so. Now it’s time to run to convenience and get some beer, because, in the end, Saturday’s are for football (and the boys).

-Avery Duncan

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