LAS VEGAS — Ahead of the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl, several players stood out in the week’s first practice on Saturday. After Day 1, who are the risers and sliders, and what kind of impact will it have on their NFL draft stocks?
2023 Shrine Bowl East Team | Risers
A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest
If there was a single player who really stood out and had a wow performance during the first day of Shrine Bowl practice, it was A.T. Perry. He was dominant in every way.
Perry separated from opponents through his route running, physically beat them down to make the reception, and caught everything thrown in his direction. In a nutshell, Perry could not be covered.
Kei’Trel Clark, CB, Louisville
Kei’Trel Clark was terrific during the first practice of Shrine week. He was fundamentally sound, displaying a quick backpedal and fluid hip transition. Clark stayed on his opponent’s hip everywhere on the field to break up passes. He has several outstanding pass defenses
and drew a lot of praise from the Atlanta Falcons’ coaching staff.
Aidan O’Connell, QB, Purdue
Aidan O’Connell was hot out of the gate and was on the money throwing to targets he’s never played with in the past. He led receivers with passes, hitting them in stride or perfectly placing the ball. Even when his throws were a bit off, O’Connell gave his receivers a chance to come away with the reception.
During a post-practice press conference, the former Boilermaker mentioned spending time doing necessary film work in the lead-up to the Shrine Bowl to learn the nuances of his soon-to-be receiver teammates.
Blake Whiteheart, TE, Wake Forest
Blake Whiteheart looked solid as both a blocker and pass catcher. He fights hard with his hands to separate from defenders, found ways to get free, and made several nice receptions. He’s not the greatest athlete but showed enough ability to get looks as a third
tight end on a depth chart.
Kahlef Hailassie, CB, Western Kentucky
Day 1 was not kind to Kahlef Hailassie, who struggled to stop anyone. Whether it be short passes or crossing patterns, opponents were always coming away with receptions.
2023 Shrine Bowl West Team | Risers
Myles Brooks, CB, Louisiana Tech
From the start of practice, Myles Brooks shut down opponents and got better as practice progressed. His ability to stay on his opponents’ hips then burst to the ball and break up throws was impressive. Equally impressive was the leadership Brooks showed, encouraging and helping teammates while he was on the sidelines watching them take repetitions during drills.
Demario Douglas, WR, Liberty
Except for dropping one tough pass, it was a flawless day for Demario Douglas. He’s a super quick route runner that defensive backs could not stop. His ability to fire in and then out of breaks was impressive, and he consistently separated from opponents. Douglas also showed a burst of speed and caught the ball with solid fundamentals.
Kazmeir Allen, RB, UCLA
Kazmeir Allen had the luxury of playing with his college quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and had a good day overall. Allen’s footwork was outstanding, and he bounced around defenders, leaving them grasping at air. He also caught the ball exceptionally well all morning long.
Terell Smith, CB, Minnesota
Terell Smith struggled during the early part of the West practice, then turned it completely around and shut down every opponent by the end of the session. He was terrific covering passes in the short field and, late in practice, made an exceptional breakup in the deep field.
The only problem was Smith did not come away with the interception as he should have! The resiliency to bounce back from mistakes or bad reps is something scouts look for during postseason all-star games, and Smith did a great job of that today.
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