Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 1/19/12

The following is from our friend Matt Elder, who is taking in the East-West Shrine Game this week in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Earlier week it was the Casino Del Sol All-Star game and now on Saturday it will be not one, not two, but three games! This is a week I’ve been calling allstarpalooza because of all the news, reports, and tweets that have been flying. Just like with the Casino Del Sol game I will again focus on some players in the games who you should focus on. Here is our Shrine Game report on who are the prospects to watch:

Most Impressive-CB Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina

To say Josh Norman has been the best CB at this game would be an understatement. He has been so dominant that I don’t think an East practice has gone by without his name mentioned just about every other tweet. From the moment he stepped into the weigh-in and showed that his 6’0 frame was legit the buzz has been going. He has had an INT in every practice so far (had three on Wednesday) and has been all over the place. The week of practice Josh Norman has been having is every prospects dream. He has gone from a Top 200 pick to an almost sure thing in the Top 100.

Most Intriguing-DT Dominique Hamilton-Missouri

Hamilton came to Tampa needing to prove that he was capable of playing the inside of a 34 defense. He certainly showed that he has the ability to put on the weight at weigh-ins when he came in at 6’4, 320 lbs. In practice he has shown bits and pieces of putting it all together. He has done a good job clogging the holes at times and has shown the ability to just bully his man one on one into the backfield as well. If Hamilton can show the ability to take on the double team and fight through blocks on Saturday he could make his stock go up. 34 NT prospects are always a hot commodity and tend to be over drafted.

Most Unknown-DT Akiem Hicks-Regina

CBS Sports/NFL Draft Scout analyst Dane Brugler wrote this morning that Hicks was the most dominating DL at this event. That’s saying something for a player who comes from the great white north. However, Hicks being this good shouldn’t surprise you much. He was a 4 star JUCO signee coming out and has signed a letter of intent to play at LSU. Unfortunately there was some confusion about his housing situation and there may have been some NCAA violations had he stayed. Instead he went north and dominated the CIS. Hicks has the raw power and athleticism that gives OL fits and he looks like an ideal 34 DE right now. He’s still raw in his technique but he has taken to the coaching and has turned it on.

Most to Lose- QB Chandler Harnish-Northern Illinois/QB Jeff Brantley-Florida

I couldn’t pick between these two but both have the most at risk in this game and for two completely different reasons. Harnish comes from a MAC school where he was dominant. He used his arms and his legs effectively to make plays happen and there was a lot of hype surrounding him coming into this game. His came in barely over 6’1 and his play has been inconsistent. He needs a strong finish to maintain his draft stock or else he could see it fall. Brantley on the other hand was a highly heralded QB prospect who Urban Meyer really screwed up and Brantley has never recovered. He was at one time look at as a potential draft pick but after two years of below average play his stock is on a heart monitor and this game is his only chance to revive it.

Most to Gain-QB BJ Coleman-Chattanooga

Coleman came into this year with sky high expectations. He was ranked highly on BLESTO and National pre-season rankings but struggled this year with his consistency and then he got injured. Many scouts began to question his ability and drop him but because of his 2010 tape they have always kept him in the back of their minds. He’s had the best week thus far of any QB and if he can finish with a big game on Saturday you could be looking at the guy who helps himself out the most.

The East West Shrine Game will air Saturday at 6:30pm on NFL Network. I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the Battle of Florida!

 

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