Shrine Game weigh-ins took place Monday morning, but it's not too late to meet some of the cast of this week's festivities. Part III of my East-West Shrine Game preview focuses on the West team's offense...
(Part I - East team offense)
(Part II - East team defense)
QB: Gunner Kiel (Cincinnati), Zach Terrell (Western Michigan), Wes Lunt (Illinois)
Kiel was a big time recruit who committed to Indiana, LSU and Notre Dame before finally playing some college ball for Cincinnati. He missed time in 2015 with a concussion, and he skipped the bowl game that season for "personal" reasons. Kiel has bounced back and forth between the bench and the starting job, so the fact that he was invited speaks to his arm strength, and the (lack of) QB depth in this senior class.
Terrell has been entrenched as a starter for three-and-half years, and led the Broncos to an undefeated regular season as a senior. He's a rhythm and timing passer who gets the ball out quickly. He doesn't have a big arm, but he is athletic enough to make plays on the move and scramble for a few yards. I like Terrell in the way I liked Taylor Heinicke a few years ago: a late round or undrafted free agent pickup, who can stick as a backup.
Lunt started his college career at Oklahoma State before moving closer to home. There was a point that I thought he was a player on the rise - big, tall, strong arm - but it never really clicked. He'll probably be available after the draft as a free agent or tryout player.
RB: Joe Williams (Utah)
Williams quit the team after Week Two of the season. He was characterized by his positional coach as feeling mentally and physically "drained." But Williams was coaxed back into playing a few weeks later, after Utah's running backs fell victim to injuries, and rushed for over 1300 yards in the final seven games of the season. Williams' commitment to a future in football will be heavily scrutinized throughout the draft season, but his speed will keep NFL people interested.
Other West RB: Justin Davis (USC), Dare Ogunbowale (Wisconsin), Elijah McGuire (Louisiana-Lafayette)
WR: Trey Griffey (Arizona), Gabe Marks (Washington State), Austin Carr (Northwestern)
George Kenneth Griffey III is the son of baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., and the grandson of former Cincinnati Reds star Ken Griffey, and he was also drafted by Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners last year. As a football player, Trey Griffey never caught more than 31 passes in a season, and finished with just 79 catches in 42 career games.
Marks considered declaring for the draft last year, but ultimately decided to return for his senior season. He's Washington State's leader in career touchdown catches, and the Pac 12's all-time receptions leader. Still, Marks is more reliable slot guy than big playmaker, and is likely to be available late in the draft.
Speaking of reliable slot receivers, Carr led the Big Ten in catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in his only season as a full-time starter. He's a cool story - a former walk-on with a background in musical theater - and I was impressed with his play against tough Ohio State and Wisconsin defenses. I think he'll do very well in the Shrine Game practice setting, provides the QBs can get him the ball.
Other West WR: Karel Hamilton (Samford), Jalen Robinette (Air Force), Billy Brown (Shepherd)
TE: Michael Roberts (Toledo)
I really thought Roberts would get a Senior Bowl invite, and I guess it's not too late. Occasionally we will see players get "called up" after a strong week of practices, or as an injury replacement. This season for Toledo, Roberts caught 45 passes, and led all FBS tight ends with 16 touchdowns. The 6'5" 270 pounder is a fluid athlete for his size, and has soft hands as a receiver. He's one of my favorite offensive prospects on either roster this week.
Other West TE: Blake Jarwin (Oklahoma State), Taylor McNamara (USC)
OL: Erik Austell (Charleston Southern), Avery Gennesey (Texas A&M)
Austell is an athletic mover who saw time on defense, and at quarterback and running back as a high school player. He played left tackle for Charleston Southern, but is an undersized prospect who I believe will he moved inside to center or guard.
Here's Charleston Southern SR offensive lineman Erik Austell playing fullback in high school https://t.co/xrgLNJvh45— Justin Higdon (@afc2nfc) September 1, 2016
It seems like Texas A&M left tackles always get hyped, but Gennesey, despite being a two-year starter, never got that treatment. My first impression of him was that he struggled in pass protection, and looked like a candidate to move inside to guard. It'll be interesting to see where coaches line him up this week.
Other West OL: Tobijah Hughley (Louisville), Gavin Andrews (Oregon State), Chase Roullier (Wyoming), Zachary Johnson (North Dakota State), Geoff Gray (Manitoba), Sam Tevi (Utah), Evan Goodman (Arizona State), Storm Norton (Toledo), Sean Harlow (Oregon State), Victor Salako (Oklahoma State