Shrine Game: West Team’s Standouts In First Practice

Credit: Daniel Satter Sports Talk

Today, the West team took the field to prepare for the big game this Saturday, plus the players on the west team had many scouts watching them, as this is their last collegiate game before heading to the National Football League.

Now, from what I seen today at the west team’s practice, the defense was catching on quickly, which is a problem for the east team. The west team is loaded with a talented secondary led by Tedric Thompson, plus some hard and fast moving linebackers in Hardy Nickerson Jr and Kenneth Olugbode. On the other side of the field, their offense consists of three solid running backs and four if Justin Davis decides to participate, but he is injured, so he will most likely just prepare and heal for the draft.

Furthermore, from day one of their practice, four players that stood out above the rest includes Tedric Thompson, Gabe Marks, Joseph Williams, and Michael Roberts.

First off, let’s talk about Tedric Thompson, who is a safety from Colorado. He was part of a great defense this past season, plus in the Shrine Game, he seems to be the best defensive player on the field. Thompson stood out when it all started out in both jump ball drill and race directional drill. The kid can run and jump with anyone he goes against. Then when it came to one-on-one coverage versus tight ends, he shut down the opposition every time. Many scouts are watching this kid and so am I. His draft stock has shot up even more moving him into a day two pick.

The next player who stood out was Gabe Marks from Washington State, as he caught everything his way. He displayed solid hands and great route running skills, which he toasted Randall Goforth’s ankles on a deep slant. He uses his quickness to get off the line and seems like a guy to watch this Saturday. He is the west team’s number one receiver for sure.

Third on the list is Joesph Williams, who is a running back from Utah and yes, the kid who retired then came back after the Utes lost three running backs to injuries. He has not lost a step and he reminds me of Josh Ferguson of the Indianapolis Colts, which he was at the Shrine Game last year representing the Fighting Illini. Williams is proving his worth and value by returning punts today, catching the ball safely, bouncing outside the tackles for big yardage, and lastly, showing scouts that he can actually run up the middle, which was a negative in his game. Hopefully this Saturday this kid gets a good and fair amount of snaps with other solid backs on the roster in Dare Ogunbowale and Eli McGuire.

Fourth and finally, Michael Roberts was living up to the hype that people were building on him after his successful 2016 campaign at the University of Toledo (16 touchdowns). He was mauling defenders when he was asked to block and making the defense keeping all eyes on him when he went out to catch a pass, which helped opened up passing lanes for his teammates. He was successful on catching every football in drills and made some nice big catches going against the defense. I was glad to finally get a chance to see this up and coming future NFL star, as he has title written all over him if everything goes to plan. Honestly, he looks like a player the New England Patriots would select.

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