In-state players opening eyes at college football all-star games

Two major college football all-star games will be played on Saturday, with the East-West Shrine Bowl kicking off at 3 p.m. in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at 4:15 p.m. in Carson, Calif

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
East Carolina Pirates running back Anthony Scott (3) tries to break a tackle from North Carolina State Wolfpack cornerback Jack Tocho (29) in the first quarter of the college football game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville

Two major college football all-star games will be played on Saturday, with the 92nd East-West Shrine Bowl kicking off at 3 p.m. at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the sixth annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at 4:15 p.m. at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif. Although the games themselves will be important to the NFL draft prospects of the players involved, the week of practice beforehand under the watchful eye of league scouts, coaches and general managers could play an even bigger role in determining their professional futures. NC State’s Joe Thuney used a standout performance in last year’s East-West Game to become a third-round pick of the New England Patriots, for whom he will start at left guard in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. According to reports from those in St. Petersburg, two other former Wolfpack stars — center Joe Scelfo and cornerback Jack Tocho — have been opening eyes at this week’s practice sessions in hopes of following in Thuney’s footsteps to the NFL. Scelfo, despite being somewhat undersized, stood out to Charlie Campbell of “He had some nice reps in the one-on-ones and did a good job of anchoring against nose tackle bull rushes,” Campbell wrote. “Scelfo might not get drafted, but he plays hard and is gritty. He could be a nice undrafted free agent as a backup center.”Mike Mayock of was even higher on Tocho, calling him “a long corner who competes, a very aggressive. He’s flashed this week and keeps catching my eye.” Other players from in-state schools at the East-West Shrine Game are North Carolina center Lucas Crowley and kicker Nick Weiler, the Wake Forest duo of cornerback Brad Watson and linebacker Marquel Lee and Appalachian State running back Marcus Cox.Chris Kouffman of Optimum Scouting called Watson “a player that has me wanting more” because of his “genuine corner movement skills and balance” while Christopher Hart of the Denver Broncos website Mile High Review liked Lee’s “size and athleticism” who has the potential to be a “three-down linebacker in the NFL.” On the other coast, meanwhile, former Tar Heels T.J. Logan and Des Lawrence have been among the standouts during practice sessions for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.Anthony Cosenza of the Cincinnati Bengals website said that Logan has been so much better than “the rest of the National team’s running back crew, (he) could get the bulk of the carries for his team.” That kind of exposure could be huge for a player that never got the opportunity to be a primary ballcarrier during his college career. As for Lawrence, a cornerback who is also playing for the National team, Cosenza wrote that he could have a future as a slot corner in the NFL. “At 6 feet and 185 pounds, he has the size to keep up with pro receivers and could really help his current Day Three (draft) status this weekend.” Joining Logan and Lawrence on the National team are East Carolina quarterback Philip Nelson and Duke cornerback Breon Borders. NC A&T running back Tarik Coleman will play for the American team on Saturday. The East-West Game will be televised live by the NFL Network while the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl can be seen on Fox Sports 1.