Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

All-Star Games College Showcases Vital for Prospects

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

All-Star Games College Showcases Vital for Prospects

Article excerpt

A month ago, Collin Klein was being celebrated on one of college football's biggest stages as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Now he's back to trying to prove that he's more than just a good college player.

The former Kansas State quarterback headlines a group of NFL hopefuls that will be on display for scouts in today's two college football showcase games -- the annual East West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the first Raycom College Football All-Star Classic in Montgomery, Ala.

"It's been a lot of fun. A lot of new stuff, so I'm drinking from a fire hydrant, but we're having a good time," said Klein, who will play for the East team in the Shrine Game. "It's great to meet and get to know the guys. It's a great opportunity and I'm trying to make the most of it."

While many of the players projected to go in the early rounds of April's NFL draft are participating in the Senior Bowl later this month, the Shrine Game has developed a reputation in recent years as a place where scouts can discover an overlooked prospect.

Washington Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris is probably the most recent example. The former Florida Atlantic standout was barely a speck on draft boards before catching the eyes of scouts at his practice week for last year's Shrine Game. He went on to be drafted in the sixth round by the Redskins and rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie this season.

"These guys are here like a job interview, selling themselves, so it doesn't take a whole lot of motivation," West team coach Lehman Bennett said. "They realize what's at stake. They can become a third- round draft choice or a second-round draft choice instead of a fifth- round draft choice. That's what we're trying to help them do."

Former Pitt running back Ray Graham will join Klein on the East team, as will former California, Pa., offensive lineman Eric Kush. Former Penn State offensive lineman Matt Stankiewitch and linebacker Gerald Hodges also are on the East roster. …

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