Koger eager for all-star showcase

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It has been an interesting week for former Michigan tight end Kevin Koger.

Along with the rest of the players at the East-West Shrine Game, he knows he is there for a purpose: Try and impress scouts to improve his standing as he prepares to embark on a career in professional football.

But still, throughout all of that, he can't help but make friends and learn new things.

"Just listening to stories from people all around the country," Koger said from Florida on Thursday. "My roommate is Bobby Rainey from Western Kentucky, and I didn't know he was the second-leading rusher in the nation in terms of yards per game. It's interesting to learn stuff like that."

Koger said he has been quizzed about Michigan's season, mostly about what it was like to play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, where the Wolverines beat Virginia Tech, 23-20, in overtime. And he also is trying to convince one of his new teammates, Oregon tight end David Paulson, to give him some Ducks gear.

Other than that, though, he has taken this week seriously -- much like Michigan's actual season although the stakes are different. This time, it is about trying to put himself in the best possible position to be selected during April's NFL Draft. As of now, Koger has not been invited to next month's NFL Combine. Only three former Wolverines are: Mike Martin, David Molk and Junior Hemingway, who is also playing in Saturday's East-West game.

So Koger approached this week with something to prove.

"I always feel like I have something to prove," Koger said. "That's how I go out and play the game every time I put that winged helmet on. I definitely want to show everybody that I have a multiple skill set."

Koger's receiving skills have never been in question after he caught 59 passes for 756 yards and nine touchdowns during his career. What he said he needs to improve -- and show scouts -- is his blocking technique.

Koger said his agent, Rick Smith from Priority Sports, pointed out he often would stop driving his feet at the point of impact instead of keeping his feet moving to finish off a block. It was something he had heard in college, but now is working on it.

"I just have to show everybody I can run my feet through contact against bigger opponents," Koger said.

It is just one detail, though, and one step along the way to trying to turn his college career into a professional one.

He isn't the only Michigan player attempting to do that.

Martin, who is also represented by Smith, will play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 28. Molk was invited to the game, but the bowl announced he wouldn't participate due to injury.

Former running back Michael Shaw played in the Casino del Sol All-Star Game on Jan. 16.

Former linebacker Marell Evans is in Saturday's NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and former receiver Martavious Odoms plays Saturday in the Battle of Florida All-Star Game.

"I love football and just playing it with my ability," Odoms said. "I'm doing it because I love it. A paycheck is a bonus. I would love to get paid to do what I love."

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or on Twitter @mikerothstein.