While points were few and far between in the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl, there were some players who were able to make their presence felt and increase their draft value. Here were some highlight moments and players who stood out in the West’s 12-3 Shrine Bowl victory on Thursday night.
For starters, Fresno State running back Jordan Mims showed off his electrifying burst potential with a big 30-yard run early in the game. He finished as the leading rusher for his team with 40 yards and averaged the most yards per touch of any player in the game overall at 6.7.
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For the opposing top running back, Arizona State’s Xazavian Valladay rushed for a total of 76 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. His longest run of the game went for 14 yards.
Defensive performances like the one from Florida edge product Brenton Cox served as a key reason why neither team was able to score a touchdown. Cox did just about everything a player possibly could in an All-Star type of game to stand out. He posted one solo tackle, two assists, one tackle for a loss and even a sack in the game.
Another defensive player who proved his worth, not only in the game but all week long, was West Virginia defensive tackle Dante Stills. He assisted on a couple tackles and had a knack for getting to wherever the ball was all game. His personality was also a big talking point all week. A WWE scout even asked about “the loud WVU guy who’s always smiling.” Stills made sure to also do some talking with his play on the field too.
Even though he failed to actually make a catch, A.T. Perry out of Wake Forest is worth mentioning. He received the most targets of any receiver from either team with five and was covered as if he was the top threat out on the field — like he showed he could be by dominating the week of practice. In his defense, at least three of the passes that went his way were either under-thrown or off target all together. It only intensified the chatter that the lackluster quarterback play was hurting the receivers at practice and then in the game.
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Pitt’s Habakkuk Baldonado was credited with a tackle, a quarterback hurry and a tackle for a loss, also making an impact in the fun department. He had a big time celebration after he perfectly read a play and then stuffed Utah running back Tavion Thomas almost immediately upon handoff.
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While the MVP could have been awarded to a myriad of defensive players, it was Michigan’s Jake Moody who ended up winning the honor. Why was Moody the MVP? Well, he did the one thing that needs to happen for any team to win a game – score points. Moody connected on four field goals, including a couple 50 plus-yard kicks, which was more than enough to lead the West group to win in the 2023 edition of this annual affair.