Six prospects stood out in the East-West Shrine Bowl
1) Frank Gore Jr., RB, Southern Miss (5-foot-7 1/8, 199 lbs)
The son of the NFL’s third-ranked running back won the game’s Offensive Player of the Year award, rushing for 48 of his 87 yards with a score after an outside zone cutback. He saw the open field on that play and took the corner from the safety and the outside linebacker pressured the inside. He had two more first downs for the West team in the second quarter on zone plays (as he was coached by his father on the sideline in between) and also showed toughness, picking up six yards on an inside run without much yardage. Gore isn’t the biggest or fastest pick in the draft, but he has shown scouts that he will be effective in the NFL.
2) Tulia Tagovailoa, QB, Maryland (5-10 2/8, 200)
The brother of Miami Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa used his legs to his advantage throughout the Shrine Bowl to help the Western Conference jump to the lead. He came out of the pocket and took advantage of a broken Cover 2 early in the second quarter, firing a pass to Jadon Janke for a 52-yard gain. He later ran it in from two yards out after avoiding a rush. He then found Josh Cephus for the ensuing two-point conversion. Tagovailoa trailed the game on third down in the red zone late in the first half and on two foul punts, but still made 9 of 14 for 142 yards, an excellent performance overall.
3) Blake Watson, RB, Memphis (5-9 3/8, 189)
Watson was a productive runner and receiver during his time at Old Dominion and Memphis and showed off those skills again during Thursday’s game. He was a check-down king during a two-minute drill in the first half, knocking down would-be blockers on two receptions to move the chains. Watson also showed speed and patience on a 25-yard bounce screen to start the second half, following his blocker into the open field. He carried West’s load as a runner, making big gains when the line created opportunities and taking what he could when blocking broke down. He could have had more than 111 total yards of offense, but he made the right move late by taking a knee to run the clock in the final minutes.
4) Myles Murphy, DT, North Carolina State (6-3 7/8, 312)
While cornerback Jarius Monroe was the best defensive player in the game after securing the interception, Murphy was the best defender in the West. He started off strong, blasting the screen with pressure more quickly than expected. He beat his man to force a field goal attempt late in the first quarter, though quarterback Jack Plummer’s helmet was askew after Murphy put his hand on his face mask. He challenged the linemen throughout the rest of the game, winning gaps quickly off the ball and forcing double teams to keep him from making plays. Murphy also rushed down the field, including when he caught tight end Mason Pline after a reception late in the third quarter.