2020 East-West Shrine Bowl Recap
We have officially reached NFL Draft season! Every year we kick off draft season with several college all-star games like the East-West Shrine Bowl and the Senior Bowl. Here, players have their first opportunity to work with NFL-level coaches and start to meet individually with scouts, coaches, and general managers. The 2020 draft cycle began with an extremely entertaining display of talent in the 95th Annual East-West Shrine Bowl on January 18, 2020.
The East, led by quarterbacks Tommy Stevens from Mississippi State, Kevin Davidson from Princeton, and James Morgan from Florida International, secured the win. The 31-27 victory was the East squad’s first win since 2015 and was the highest-scoring Shrine Bowl since 2006! If that gives us any hint to how these rosters will fair at the next level, then we have a lot to look forward to as that 2006 game consisted of players such as Greg Jennings, Leon Washington, Andrew Whitworth, and Marques Colston.
The shootout began at the 11:05 mark in the first quarter when the East squad scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass from FIU quarterback James Morgan to Louisiana Lafayette receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley. The East was far from done there, though. They pushed their lead to 14-0 on a 10-yard touchdown run by Charlotte running back Benny LeMay at the 5:12 mark of the first quarter. LeMay took full advantage of the platform today, as he showed that he could handle a good-sized workload, run with power, and that he has good vision and burst, helping him to find and hit holes.
The West started their scoring with under two minutes left in the first quarter on a fourth-down pass from Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley to San Diego State tight end Parker Houston. Huntley has really shown well this week in practice, according to several reports, and with the increasing interest in athletic quarterbacks, he will be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on. From there, both teams traded field goals, and the first half ended with the East ahead by 17-10.
The second half started with some fireworks for the West’s defense. At the 8:49 mark of the third, Illinois State safety Luther Kirk intercepted a Tommy Stevens pass, which gave the West an opportunity to tie up the game. The West capitalized on the turnover when North Texas quarterback Mason Fine found Ohio State wide receiver Binjimen Victor on a 36-yard touchdown strike off a flea-flicker, bringing the score to 17-17 midway through the third quarter. Victor was reportedly the best receiver all week during practice, and he put his ability to high point the ball and make difficult catches in traffic on full display. The West followed that up with another field goal and their first lead of the game at 20-17.
That lead wasn’t safe for long, though. With 10:48 left in the fourth quarter, the East’s quarterback-turned-receiver, Malcolm Perry, took the direct snap and sprinted 52 yards for the score, securing a 24-20 lead. Perry will be an interesting player to follow as he makes the transition from quarterback to wide receiver. He consistently has shown the raw, athletic traits throughout his college career and this game. He has the makings of a good slot receiver at the next level.
Not willing to go quietly, the West team quickly drove down the field to regain the lead. With eight minutes left in the fourth, Illinois State running back James Robinson took the handoff and outran everyone on his way to a 63-yard score, the longest touchdown run in Shrine Bowl history, to give the West a 27-24 lead. Robinson played a great game overall. He demonstrated that he had the burst and play speed to be able to have an impact at the next level as a change of pace back and third-down option.
The last scoring drive of the game went to the East squad. The big moment of the game drive was when UCF RB Adrian Killins Jr. showed off his top-end speed and yards after catch ability while taking a screen pass, and then cutting all the way back across the field for a 37 yard gain. A few plays later, Benny LeMay powered his way into the endzone for his second score of the game, securing the 31-27 victory for the East squad.
When the game concluded, several players had compiled impressive stat lines. Charlotte running back Benny LeMay earned the offensive MVP, as he 80 yards and two scores on 16 rushes. Defensive MVP went to Illinois State safety Luther Kirk, as he had two interceptions on the day, although he lost one due to a penalty on another defensive back during the play. Other noteworthy stat lines were quarterback James Morgan, who went 9/14 for 116 yards and a touchdown, running back Adrian Killins Jr., who only had one rush, but led the East in receiving with seven catches for 91 yards, and James Robinson, who finished with seven carries, 80 yards, a score, and a pair of receptions for 56 yards.
Check back soon as I dive into the winners and losers of the East-West Shrine week. Find out which players might have moved themselves up a round or two, and which players may have cost themselves a round or two!