The Big East has a strong contingent at the Senior Bowl this week, one that got even stronger with the history-making inclusion of Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh.
He and Alabama lineman D.J. Fluker are the first non-seniors to compete in Senior Bowl practices and the game in its 64-year history. Though both declared for the draft with one year of eligibility remaining, they have each earned their degrees and attended school for four years. The Senior Bowl approached the NFL about their eligibility, and they were cleared to play.
Pugh's inclusion gives the Big East 10 representatives:
Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Alec Lemon, WR, Syracuse
Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers
Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn*
Dwayne Gratz, DB, UConn
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, DB, UConn
Sio Moore, LB, UConn
Corey Grissom, DT, USF
Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce also was slated to be there, but pulled out because of an injury. Moore was also a late addition Monday, replacing an injured Williams -- his UConn teammate.
Our friends over at Scouts Inc. already have their first-day thoughts up, and several of these players are prominently mentioned. Kevin Weidl writes that Nassib had the best day of all the quarterbacks Monday. He also liked what he saw out of Pugh, writing, "I think he could be a good starter in the NFL. I like his instincts and toughness."
Two others who stood out: Greene and Wreh-Wilson. Of Wreh-Wilson, Weidl writes: "He jammed up Oregon State's Marcus Wheaton, tossed him aside and made a pick in team play. It was impressive. He's smooth for his size."
There will be plenty more throughout the week as the players prepare for the game Saturday in Mobile, Ala.