Five Former Beehive State Stars To Take Stage At East-West Shrine Game
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The East-West Shrine Game will feature six former stars from the Beehive State. For these players and their teammates in the game, it’s an opportunity to showcase their skills and create some buzz among NFL scouts.
The all-star game of sorts will kick off from St. Petersburg, Flor. and be broadcast on the NFL Network on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The game will not feature former BYU offensive lineman Austin Hoyt, who previously accepted an invite from the game, but recently announced his intention to withdraw from the contest and from a future in professional football.
ICYMI, Former #BYUfootball standout tackle Austin Hoyt has opted against pursuing a professional football career. Had been scheduled to attend the Shrine Game this week but is going another route. #BYU #GoCougs #LoC https://t.co/6Zzpcgz8M0
— Locked on Cougars Podcast (@LockedOnCougars) January 15, 2019
Here are the players from Utah that are slated to play in the game and how the game may impact their NFL Draft stock:
Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU
Takitaki was a late addition to the East-West Shrine Game but has already made his visit to St. Petersburg count. Reportedly he met with officials from the Denver Broncos and the Dallas Cowboys following practice on Wednesday.
Linebacker Sione Takitaki from BYU takes on a block and is able to cause a fumble during team run period. Cowboys met with him yesterday #CowboysNation #ShrineGame #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/Ct5hPz2cJu
— Dalton Miller (@DaltonBMiller) January 16, 2019
“[Takitaki] provides ideal pass rush off the edge and appears flexible when bending the corner, and can win with his hands as well,” according to Draft Wire’s Gavino Borquez. “The BYU product is a disciplined defender that is cognizant of his run gap responsibilities and edge containment.”
DraftAnalyst.com has Takitaki projected as a sixth-rounder. Time will tell if the Broncos or Cowboys will call his name then.
Jaskson Barton, OL, Utah
Barton has comparable size to Hoyt at 6-foot-7 and 313 pounds. It’s not a stretch to assume that he also faced stiffer competition in the Pac-12 and did a fantastic job, earning first team All-Pac-12 honors.
Jackson Barton of The University of Utah has accepted the invitation to play in the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. #shrinegame @Utah_Football @u0893535 pic.twitter.com/nhYgoCdp1V
— Shrine Game (@Shrine_Game) November 29, 2018
RotoWorld spoke glowingly of Barton, saying, “Barton has played both left and right tackle for the Utes, and has been a solid — if not spectacular — performer for the Pac-12 South champions. He’ll likely get looks at both positions, but he profiles best as a right tackle at the next level.”
Cody Barton, LB, Utah
Barton is the younger brother of Jackson, and plays on the opposite side of the field at linebacker. He also was a strong performer for the Utes last season, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors.
2019 NFL Draft Player Profile: Cody Barton – The Draft Network https://t.co/2nwpHOLrFb
— José Chavez (@joseyanks) January 11, 2019
Scouts seem to like his intuitive play-recognizing skills and have him slated as a potential fourth-round pick or day three draft selection.
He’ll need to demonstrate improved athletic abilities during this evaluation period if he wants to solidify his draft stock and the Shrine Game is the perfect starting point to doing so.
Matt Gay, K, Utah
Making in the NFL as a kicker is tricky business. It’s all a matter of timing and fit. Some guys like Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens can lock down a spot in the league for 15-plus years, other guys get just one chance and may not even make it out of training camp.
Matt Gay of The University of Utah has accepted the invitation to play in the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. #shrinegame @UUtah pic.twitter.com/tvSMYomWpE
— Shrine Game (@Shrine_Game) December 21, 2018
Gay is in that boat. He clearly has the power and accuracy to make it in the league, but he’ll need to be virtually flawless on both place-kicking and kickoffs in the Shrine Game to show that he has the chops to last as a kicker on Sundays.
The former Lou Groza Award Winner has the ability, it’s all about execution from here on out.
Ron’quavion Tarver, WR, Utah State
Tarver was Utah State’s leading receiver in 2018, leading the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns. He has the size and speed to make it as a wide receiver in the NFL, but perhaps was a victim of how effective Utah State’s offense was last season.
Ron’Quavion Tarver of Utah State University has accepted the invitation to play in the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. #shrinegame @thegreat_3 @USUAggies @USUAthletics pic.twitter.com/RuomSLVjky
— Shrine Game (@Shrine_Game) January 11, 2019
The Aggies’ offense has hardly on the field last year, as they quickly destroyed opposing defenses. Perhaps being so good and not facing stiff competition is a major reason why Tarver hasn’t been talked about much concerning his draft status.
Roto World said this about Tarver: “Tarver was a decent player in 2018, but he hasn’t been a highly talked about prospect early in the draft process. Perhaps the East-West Shrine Game can create some buzz for Tarver. Consider him a Day 3 candidate for now.”
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