With the 2023 NFL season nearing its conclusion, teams are beginning to ramp up their preparation for the 2024 draft this spring.
That preparation began this week with the 99th installment of the East-West Shrine Bowl. More than 120 of the best players in college football suited up this week for practices in front of NFL scouts, and they capped it off with an All-Star Game on Thursday night at Ford Center in Frisco, Texas.
The West All-Stars defeated the East All-Stars 26-11 in the annual event.
East-West Shrine Bowl @ShrineBowlFINAL.
26 WEST #ShrineBowl
— East-West Shrine Bowl (@ShrineBowl) February 2, 2024
Southern Miss running back Frank Gore Jr., the son of former Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore, was one of the highlights of this year’s game as he broke off a couple of big runs for the West All-Stars, including one of which went for a touchdown.
Gore Jr. finished the game having rushed for 87 yards and one touchdown on six carries en route to being named the game’s Offensive MVP.
East-West Shrine Bowl @ShrineBowlON THE MOVE!!!!
Frank Gore Jr. (@stn_2lit) @SouthernMissFB | #ShrineBowl
It's the South Dakota State duo of Garret Greenfield and Mason McCormick on the left side of the offensive line opening up the hole for Frank Gore Jr. TD in the Shrine Bowl! pic.twitter.com/qmwZ21Mb5A
— Blaine Grisak 💭 (@bgrisakTST) February 2, 2024
Sam Sklar @sklarsam_Steve Smith Sr. on Frank Gore Jr.: “If you watch football, you can see Frank Gore Jr. and his dad in him with the way he carries his shoulder pads, the way he runs, the way he carries the ball and the way he finishes. I think Frank Gore Jr. has a great opportunity to show you…
Southofseattle @JJM805Frank Gore Jr might fall to rd 6 or 7 but somebody’s going to get 1st rd talent. His vision and slide step: he’s a clone of his dad. He sticks that foot, makes one cut and goes.
Stephen @BlitzDallasFrank Gore Jr looking good
Vintage Luxury 🕺🏾 @thad2BlueFrank Gore Jr. going crazy tonight
h.i.m. @official_ST_frank gore jr is having himself a day!
Melanie Friedlander @GirlsurgeonFrank Gore Jr is just so fun to watch. He plays hard and finishes every practice snap like it’s a real game. #ShrineBowl
Gore Jr., who was also invited to the NFL Combine, spent his entire four-year collegiate career with Southern Miss. He put together back-to-back 1,000-plus yard rushing seasons in 2022 and 2023 and accumulated 4,022 yards across his four seasons.
During the 2023 season, Gore Jr., rushed for 1,131 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games. He also caught 27 passes for 221 yards and three scores.
Pro Football Focus has Gore Jr. ranked as the 17th-best running back in the 2024 draft class. That said, it’s looking like one team might get a steal in the Southern Miss running back in the later rounds of the draft.
Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, the brother of Miami Dolphins signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa, also impressed in Thursday’s game, completing 9 of 14 passes for 142 yards. He also rushed for a score to help the West All-Stars to victory.
FCS Football @FCS_STATSSouth Dakota State well-represented at @ShrineBowl, including WR Jadon Janke with a 52-yard reception.
Janke in 67 career games: 170 receptions for 2,800 yards and 30 TDs
South Dakota State well-represented at @ShrineBowl, including WR Jadon Janke with a 52-yard reception.
Janke in 67 career games: 170 receptions for 2,800 yards and 30 TDs pic.twitter.com/ufiUvHFV45
— FCS Football (@FCS_STATS) February 2, 2024
Tony Catalina @Tony_CatalinaTaulia Tagovailoa keeps it himself on the bootleg for six. Proceeds to fire the ball into the concourse.
2 pt try is good! 14-3 with 12:07 left in the first half. @ShrineBowl
Taulia Tagovailoa keeps it himself on the bootleg for six. Proceeds to fire the ball into the concourse.
— Tony Catalina (@Tony_Catalina) February 2, 2024
Bro, it’s football. @BroItsFootballMaryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa had a nice first half.
Showed off the ability to extend plays with his legs and make accurate throws off platform.#NFL #NFLDraft #ShrineBowl #BroItsFootball
Jonny Camer @CamerJonnyTaulia Tagovailoa is absolutely balling in the #ShrineBowl 🔥 🔥
Vinsanity @beefcake_180Taulia Tagovailoa and Frank Gore Jr are currently dominating the Shrine Bowl lol
Nick Harris @NickHarrisDCAy man Taulia Tagovailoa is having a day here at the @ShrineBowl
Tagovailoa began his college career at Alabama before transferring to Maryland, where he spent the last four seasons.
During the 2023 season, he completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 3,377 yards and 25 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in 12 games, in addition to rushing for 18 yards and five scores.
While Tagovailoa isn’t considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2024 draft class, he should still receive a decent amount of looks given the fact his brother has molded into one of the NFL’s best.
On the defensive side, Tulane cornerback Jarius Monroe had a solid performance for the West All-Stars, posting an interception and a tackle to be named the game’s Defensive MVP.
Monroe spent the last two seasons at Tulane after beginning his college career with the Nicholls Colonels. He finished the 2023 season with one sack, three interceptions, 48 tackles, 10 passes defended and one forced fumble in 13 games.