This week’s two major college football all-star games are overflowing with players from the FCS level.
The 93rd annual East-West Shrine Game boasts 16 players from the subdivision, while there’s a whopping 22 at the seventh annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
The Shrine Game includes Sam Houston State quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe, who’s fresh off winning a second straight Walter Payton Award as the FCS offensive player of the year. Other players to watch include South Dakota State’s Jake Wieneke, one of the most productive wide receivers in FCS history; Illinois State cornerback Davontae Harris; Fordham running back Chase Edmonds; and North Dakota safety Cole Reyes, who is returning from injuries that sidelined him for much of his senior season.
One of the featured players in the NFLPA Game is Jacksonville State defensive end/outside linebacker Darius Jackson, the Buck Buchanan Award winner as the FCS defensive player of the year. Others to keep a close eye on are Maine offensive tackle Jamil Demby and rising Grambling State running back Martez Carter, who figures to be a change-of-pace option on the next level.
About 150 former FCS players fill NFL rosters each season, perhaps none more prominent than Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall draft selection in 2016 out of North Dakota State. Both games will conclude a week's worth of practices, meetings with NFL teams and sessions on playing at the next level.
93rd East-West Shrine Game
When: Saturday, Jan. 20 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
TV Channel: NFL Network
East Roster (coach Jonathan Hayes):
Fordham RB Chase Edmonds (No. 22), Northern Iowa WR Daurice Fountain (10), Illinois State DT Dalton Keene (97), North Dakota State C Austin Kuhnert (57), William & Mary OG Connor Hilland (70) and Penn WR Justin Watson (25)
West Roster (coach Bobby Johnson):
Sam Houston State QB Jeremiah Briscoe (6), Sam Houston State DT P.J. Hall (92), Illinois State CB Davontae Harris (25), Delaware DT Bilal Nichols (93), South Dakota State C Jacob Ohnesorge (62), Villanova CB Malik Reaves (31), North Dakota S Cole Reyes (8), Wagner OT Greg Senat (72), Weber State TE Andrew Vollert (87) and South Dakota State WR Jake Wieneke (19)
7th NFLPA Game
When: Saturday, Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
TV Channel: FS1
American Team (coach Darrell Green):
Tennessee Tech WR/RS Dontez Byrd (No. 81), Grambling State RB Martez Carter (35), Eastern Washington punter Jordan Dascalo (5), Murray State WR Jordon Gandy (14), Richmond TE Garrett Hudson (46), Jacksonville State OG Justin Lea (69), Tennessee State DE Ebenezer Ogundeko (97), San Diego DE/OLB Jonathan Petersen (99), Villanova OLB Ed Shockley (53), Southeastern Louisiana OLB Sione Teuhema (59), Southern DE Aaron Tiller (90) and Incarnate Word punter Joe Zema (6)
National Team (coach Mike Martz):
Bucknell DT Abdullah Anderson (92), Chattanooga ILB Tae Davis (59), Maine OT Jamil Demby (65), South Carolina State OG Justin Evans (61), Stephen F. Austin DE John Franklin-Myers (94), Duquesne OG Ben Huss (66), Jacksonville State DE/OLB Darius Jackson (90), Western Carolina RB/KR Detrez Newsome (32), Howard RB Anthony Philyaw (27) and Holy Cross QB Peter Pujals (6)
— 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.
(Jake Wieneke photo courtesy of SDSU Athletics)