The East West Shrine Game was a great experience for me both on and off the field. The week started out with us arriving in St Petersburg, Florida on Sunday afternoon and immediately got down to business. We knew this week was going to be a interview for the NFL, but I don't think many of us expected it to be so intense. Before we could even go to our rooms after a long flight and drive we began signing balls, checking in, and taking multiple tests. These tests were about your personality, IQ, and even reaction testing. Scouts and NFL rightfully want to know every single detail about you. After arriving at the hotel at 1:30, we tested until we finally got to our room at 5:30. The rest of the week off the field was filled with meetings for game plan, financial presentations, scouting meetings, and team interviews. We were pretty busy until 7 or 8 each night, and then the scout would call and request interviews until around 10 or 11. We definitely went to bed wore out each night. So needless to say we got to see the beach, but didn't get to experience it too much.
The highlight of the week was the Shriners Hospital for Children visit. If you have not heard of Shriners Hospital, they have 22 locations across North America that treats children with problems and disabilities for free. Both teams went to the hospital in Tampa to visit and play with the kids. It was a perspective altering experience for us. We think we have problems and stress, but we are truly blessed with our health and opportunities. These kids face tougher issues than I can even imagine. However, being around them you would never know it. They are some of the happiest and lovable kids there are. We danced, colored, painted faces, played sports, and just plain had fun with the kids. Watching all of us big tough guys getting down and playing like kids to give those patients love and hope was an experience I will never forget.
Then there was the football part. I was on the West team and my defensive back coaches were Marcus Robertson and Al Harris. They both played a long time in the NFL and getting to learn from their experience was great. We put in a simple defense for the game, but the main part of the NFL interview process was the practices. Tons of scouts were at the practices to evaluate how we did. It was very stressful to know that every rep counted and every slip would be noted. Also, we had 7 safeties there so the reps were limited. I think I made a good impression and had a good week, but as a perfectionist I knew I could do better. For the game I played safety, kickoff coverage, punt coverage, and had backup roles on punt/kickoff return. It was a different experience coming from the Big 12 passing style and playing around 80-90 plays a game to an all star NFL style and rotating every three series lol! But it was a fun game and I was happy to come out with a convincing win. It was a great week and I got to meet and play with players from all over the nation. Thanks to all the East West Shrine Game coaches, trainers, and staff for the opportunity and support!
-Student of the Game
A video from YouTube with the highlights from the Shriners hospital visit, courtesy of the East West Shrine Game: