The most-used phrase among NFL Draft prospects coming from the FCS level is, “I have a chip on my shoulder.”
It’s understandable. Such prospects go from being all-conference and All-American to being considered “small school” players leading into the April 27-29 draft.
Few, and basically none, will ever be the next Carson Wentz, but many former FCS players will fill NFL rosters – generally about 150 each season. Some are among the best players in the league, such as Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
On Saturday, nine from the FCS level will try to make their mark at the 92nd East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., and 23 will participate at the sixth NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, Calif. Both games will conclude a week's worth of practices, meetings with NFL teams and sessions on playing at the next level.
All of the prospects figure to be in an NFL camp this summer. Drake tight end Eric Saubert, Penn quarterback Alek Torgersen and North Dakota State offensive guard Zack Johnson are currently considered the most draftable FCS players at the Shrine Game, while the NFLPA Game has a particularly strong group, including Chattanooga offensive guard Corey Levin, Coastal Carolina running back De’Angelo Henderson, Missouri State linebacker Dylan Cole and Saint Francis free safety Lorenzo Jerome.
East-West Shrine Game
When: Saturday, Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
TV Channel: NFL Network
East Roster (coach Brentson Buckner): Villanova linebacker Austin Calitro, Jackson State linebacker Javancy Jones, Drake tight end Eric Saubert, Northern Iowa defensive end Karter Schult and Penn quarterback Alek Torgersen
West Roster (coach George Edwards): Charleston Southern offensive tackle Erik Austell, Samford wide receiver Karel Hamilton, North Dakota State offensive guard Zack Johnson and Youngstown State defensive end Avery Moss
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
When: Saturday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. ET
Where: StubHub Center (Carson, Calif.)
TV Channel: FS1
Team American (coach Jim Zorn): Southern Illinois inside linebacker Chase Allen, North Carolina A&T running back Tarik Cohen, Missouri State outside linebacker Dylan Cole, Jackson State defensive tackle Cornelius Henderson, Coastal Carolina running back De’Angelo Henderson, Saint Francis free safety Lorenzo Jerome, Weber State linebacker Tre’von Johnson, Illinois State offensive guard Cameron Lee, Western Illinois wide receiver Lance Lenoir, Chattanooga offensive guard Corey Levin and Southern Utah cornerback Josh Thornton
Team National (coach Mike Martz): San Diego cornerback Jamal Agnew, South Dakota place-kicker/punter Miles Bergner, Eastern Washington wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, Eastern Washington defensive end Samson Ebukam, Cornell punter Chris Fraser, Montana quarterback Brady Gustafson, Alabama State defensive tackle Roderick Henderson, South Carolina State offensive tackle Javarius Leamon, Dartmouth inside linebacker Folarin Orimolade, Southern running back Lenard Tillery, William & Mary offensive tackle Jerry Ugokwe and Grambling State wide receiver Chad Williams
— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.
(Top photo by Coastal Carolina Athletics)