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January 18, 2008
East-West Shrine game uncovering future stars
The 83rd Annual East-West Shrine Game is being held this Saturday at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Over 100 college stars and NFL hopefuls are going through the interview process this week and some are passing with flying colors.
One of the most interesting players is University of San Diego's Josh Johnson. The 6-foot-3 quarterback threw for 43 touchdowns and one interception.
"When you've been at the bottom, you are grateful for every opportunity," Johnson said. "I had no Division I or Division I-AA scholarship offers coming out of high school and look where I am. It's about staying hungry."
While Johnson is a relative unknown, West defensive lineman [/db]Frank Okam[/db] of Texas is one of the game's headliners.
"It's all about going full tilt on every play out here," Okam said. "I've had the opportunity to talk with Cory Redding, Shaun Rodgers and some of the other guys in the league I've played with, and they all say that it is about desire and heart. That is what I'm trying to show NFL scouts this week."
The all-star game gives heated college rivals to come together and play with each other instead of banging heads on Saturdays in the fall.
"He got me a couple times in our game," Oklahoma's Allen Patrick laughingly said of Okam. "When he gets his hands on you, you are through. It's great to have him as a teammate."
The East is being coached by NFL coaching legend Dick Vermeil.
"These young kids are so receptive," he said. "They are trying to do what you tell them and we have thrown the book at them. These guys have really picked it up."
Vermeil pointed out several athletes who have stood out to him over the week.
"Bernard Morris from Marshall has an NFL-arm," he said. "He needs some work, but he can make every throw. And Dexter Jackson from Applalachian State is something special at receiver. He makes everyone else look like their standing still. There's something special about that kid."
On defense, Boston College defensive back Jamie Silva has had a tremendous week.
"This guy pops out on film," Vermeil said. "He's everywhere you need to be. He's going to be a player in the league."