The college football all-star season gets cranked up Saturday with the East-West Shrine Game, and my ESPN colleagues are scouting practices leading up to the game.
A few Big Ten players stood out on the first day, including Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien and Iowa defensive lineman Karl Klug.
Tolzien is an interesting prospect. He lacks the ideal mechanics and physical gifts NFL teams covet, but he's one of the smartest college football players you'll ever find. His decision making is superb and he operated in a pro-style offense with the Badgers. While he might never be a full-time starter in the NFL, he's certainly a guy you'd like to have on your roster.
McShay lists Tolzien as one of his top Day 1 performers:
We know his limitations. He's 6-1½, at best, and there are some throws he can't make. The height, for example, limits some throws, such as in a red zone drill, when he had a receiver on a quick slant but with the offensive tackle and defensive tackle engaged right in front of him, he couldn't get around them quickly enough to make the throw for the score. It's a throw Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco or Ben Roethlisberger throw easily over the offensive tackle for the touchdown. Despite those limitations, he exceeded expectations. It seemed as though he had been running this offense for years. He had good command, got to the line, knew what he was doing and handled the offense with authority.
The Scouts Inc. crew calls Tolzien "the leader of the West team so far."
Klug also drew decent reviews on Day 1. Much like former Iowa standouts Mitch King and Matt Kroul, Klug isn't the biggest defensive tackle but he works extremely hard at the line of scrimmage. He's working at both line positions but likely projects as an end.
He doesn't appear to have the burst to turn the corner while playing DE, and he doesn't have the power to drive opposing linemen in the pocket while playing DT. The plus side is, and one of the reasons we liked him on film, is he's a high-effort guy with active hands, and those help make up for his weaknesses. He's not a prototype for either position, but his motor, hands and athletic ability help make up for that.
There also are some notes on Ohio State safety Jermale Hines, Illinois guard Randall Hunt and others.
Here's the list of Big Ten players in the Shrine Game.