Shrine Game An Opportunity To Shine

Bailey Adams, Sports Editor

Everyone involved with the East-West Shrine Game put on by Shriners Hospitals for Children comes away with a unique experience. Whether it is the children and families that benefit from the game’s purpose, the high school cheerleaders that have the chance to contribute to the game’s atmosphere, the young Pop Warner teams that play during halftime or the college players themselves, everyone benefits from this annual event.

These seniors from universities around the country not only enjoy humbling experiences with the children during the week but also have a big opportunity to showcase their talent for NFL scouts and fans. With the Tropicana Field crowd rocking and the game being broadcast by NFL Network, positive exposure could be gained from a big game.

Saturday’s game, the 90th annual Shrine Game, was a defensive battle. By the time the clock hit triple zeroes, it was the East that prevailed by a score of 19-3. Because of the low-scoring affair, smaller-name players got a chance to shine.

Za’Darius Smith, a defensive lineman representing Kentucky, was named the game’s defensive MVP. Smith racked up two tackles, including a big sack while creating pressure in the West’s backfield all day.

“It feels great,” said Smith. “I got an opportunity to come out here and I took each and every day and got better each and every rep.”

The game’s offensive MVP, oddly enough, turned out to be kicker Marvin Kloss out of the University of South Florida.  Kloss connected for four field goals in four attempts from 19, 30, 39 and 47 yards out while adding an extra point when the East finally found the end zone with 27 seconds to go.

“I’m blessed to get this exposure in such a big-time game,” said Kloss on getting the chance to display the consistency he showed during his time with the Bulls.

Though he was not named MVP, Florida Atlantic’s Damian Parms stole the show on Saturday afternoon with two interceptions.

“All of the hard work that I have been through for my four years at FAU, it finally showed on the field and I was happy to show it in front of a big crowd like this,” said the 6’2″ defensive back.

The game also served as a chance for players to meet athletes from other schools and connect with them.

“It was just great to go against top competition around the country,” said USC’s Josh Shaw, who hauled in an interception in the end zone during the second quarter.

“It was just fun to hang around these different guys that come from different backgrounds and different schools,” said LSU running back Terrence Magee, who rushed for 27 yards on 11 carries. “[It was fun] just to see their personalities and how they act and come out here and play this great game that I love.”

No matter the final score, players from both the East and the West came and made the most of their opportunities both on and off the field, all while impacting the lives of children and families involved with the event. Saturday served as the players’ final chance to prove themselves in a game setting before they participate in Pro Days and the NFL Combine within the next few months.

The NFL Draft takes place in Chicago this year from April 30 until May 2.