Shrine Bowl 2022: Top 20 Prospects To Watch

As the college football season begins to make its way toward the homestretch, the focus on the forthcoming all-star and pre-draft showcase circuit will soon garner the attention of national media abound and NFL franchises looking forward to next April’s draft. Set to kick off on Feb. 3 in Las Vegas, Nevada at Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, one of college football’s most historic senior showcases will make its return after a one-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic: the East-West Shrine Bowl. Throughout the 97-year storied history of the game that has produced more than 500 Pro Bowl appearances, the 2022 version of the game will mark the first time that both the Shrine Bowl and NFL Pro Bowl align during the same week, further strengthening the Shrine Bowl’s relationship with the NFL.

Making its first appearance under the bright lights of Las Vegas after the event was held in St. Petersburg, Florida for the past decade, here are 20 seniors to keep an eye on as potential invitees to the historic game.

Dominique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (OH)

A defensive talent who’s already received his invite to the game from Eric Galko, the Shrine Bowl’s director of football operations and player personnel, Robinson touts an NFL-ready frame at 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds. If he’s able to find himself in the ideal situation at the next level, his skill set has the chance to develop into an enticing project for an NFL defense.

Josh Johnson, WR, Tulsa

If you like showtime, Johnson is your guy. A pass-catching talent molded in “what works” in modern NFL offenses, his eight-catch, 149-yard performance against Ohio State tells you all you need to know about the immense potential that lies within the Golden Hurricanes’ top boundary threat.

Daniel Bellinger, FB, San Diego State

If you enjoy a throwback style of football, turn on the tape of Bellinger and enjoy. As offenses continue to deploy tight ends in unique packages, Bellinger’s ability to dominate as a blocker in the run game while exemplifying an improving skill set as a pass-catcher should be a name to keep an eye on moving into the spring. 

De’Shaan Dixon, EDGE, Norfolk State

The MEAC’s leader in sacks (6.5), Dixon is a fifth-year talent primed to dominate the showcase circuit with measurables comparable to the nation’s elite with an impressive 6-foot-5, 260-pound frame. Similar to former New York Giants third-rounder Oshane Ximines (Old Dominion), Dixon also calls the 757 home for his college tenure. With enticing traits and production to boot, Dixon could enjoy an offseason draft rise similar to the former Monarchs standout if all comes to fruition this winter.

Jerreth Sterns, WR, Western Kentucky

The pound-for-pound most dominant player in college football this fall, Sterns can best be described as electric. The nation’s leader in all major receiving categories, I recently wrote on Sterns’ journey and impressive skill set for The Draft Network

Decobie Durant, CB, South Carolina State

Like former Bulldog and current All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, Durant has all the fundamental tools necessary to jump onto the NFL scene as an immediate impact defender. Couple his alpha-mentality with his ball production (two INTs against Clemson) and Durant is a prospect with a jetpack attached to his draft stock as we near November.

Ifeani Maijeh, DT, Rutgers

A nose tackle that wears No. 88? SIGN. ME. UP.

The Scarlet Knights’ anchor in the middle, Maijeh has continued to showcase impressive strength in his lower half with the necessary footwork to slide from gap to gap in the run game. An interior talent that initially announced his name as a standout sophomore in 2019, Maijeh is an exciting trench defender. 

Ja’Tyre Carter, OL, Southern

A former star on the hardwood, Carter brings smooth feet and active hands to the Jaguars’ front five. He’s been dominant all year long.

Travis Jones, DL, UCONN

A mountain of a man at 6-foot-4 and 333 pounds, Jones is a hoss in the middle for the Huskies. With surprisingly quick feet for a man of his stature, Jones is a hassle to block for a full 60 minutes.

Markquese Bell, S, Florida A&M

Bell is a STUD. A spitting image of Derwin James out of Florida State (from a frame perspective), Bell possesses a dynamic blend of speed, ball skills, and vision on the backend that allows him to dissect offensive concepts at a moment’s notice. Massive riser.

Jack Coan, QB Notre Dame

A Wisconsin transfer, Coan has led the Fighting Irish to a 6-1 record. A pocket passer with room to grow, don’t be surprised if he lights it up in Vegas. 

J.J. Russell, LB, Memphis

Third among all FBS linebackers in tackles, Russell flies sideline-to-sideline from whistle to whistle and has a motor I’ve yet to see run out of juice. Consistency is king, and Russell has etched his name as one of CFB’s most stout second-level defenders. 

Deontai Williams, CB, Nebraska

For prospects looking to draw eyes in their senior campaigns, ball production from the secondary is the easiest way to do so. With four interceptions for the Huskers, Williams combines excellent ball skills with an enticing 6-foot-1 frame that smothers receivers on the perimeter. 

Dustin Crum, QB, Kent State

With 43 touchdowns thrown compared to six interceptions the last two-plus seasons, you can’t help but turn on Crum’s tape and think of a Pac-12 gun-slinger. The leader of an offense that’s proven victorious in three of its last four games after a 1-3 start, don’t helmet scout here, Crum can sling the rock with the best of them. 

Levi Lewis, QB, Louisiana-Lafayette

A dual-threat talent and captain of the 6-1 Ragin’ Cajuns, Lewis plays best against top-tier competition, and I would love to see him go toe-to-toe in Vegas against the country’s premier senior talent pool.

Tristan Nichols, EDGE, Nevada

A native of the Hawaiian islands, there’s nothing easy going about his violent game. An edge presence with elite sack production when it’s mattered most, Nichols has continued to improve from Week 1.

Mataeo Durant, RB, Duke

After a dominant start to the season, Durant’s production hasn’t remained video-game-like, but he’s totaled more than 100 yards on the ground in all but two games this season behind an impressive 5.2 yards a carry. In a day in age where the teams opt to pluck running backs on days two and three of the draft, Durant fits the script as a ball-carrier to keep a keen eye on following the final whistle of his collegiate career.

Gerrit Prince, TE, UAB

An in-line talent with a knack for the big play, you can never have enough impact tight ends in the NFL today, and Prince, at 6-foot-5, offers plenty enough skill to immediately fill a TE2 or TE3  role with proper coaching at the next level. 

Travell Harris, WR, Washington State

Like Sterns out of Western Kentucky, Harris is the target hog in Washington State’s air-raid attack. A lightning-quick wideout with the ability to work after the catch, he’s amassed 51 catches in eight games.

DeAngelo Malone, EDGE, Western Kentucky

One of Conference USA’s top edge defenders over the last couple of seasons, Malone has recorded 42.5 tackles for a loss, 255 tackles, 25 sacks, and five forced fumbles since his freshman year in 2017. With an absurdly athletic frame, Malone is reminiscent of Noah Spence from a handful of seasons ago. A project of projects, if all goes right, he could be a steal in this year’s class.