2023 Shrine Bowl: Division 2 NFL Draft Prospects Led by Caleb Murphy and Quinton Barrow

The 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl provides a stage for NFL draft prospects to showcase their talents, and for Division 2 athletes, it serves as a proving ground.

Division 2 players face a steep uphill climb toward the NFL draft, but the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl offers them a chance to prove their mettle against heightened competition. Here are the six DII prospects participating in this year’s Shrine Bowl.

Division 2 NFL Draft Prospects at the 2023 Shrine Bowl

Caleb Murphy, DL, Ferris State

As soon as Shrine Bowl activities kick off, all eyes will be on Ferris State’s Caleb Murphy. The 6’4″, 245-pound edge defender earned the Ted Hendricks Award in 2022, given to the top collegiate defensive end in the country, regardless of level.

If that isn’t impressive enough, it marked the first time in the award’s 20-year history that a non-FBS player received the honor. Last season’s winner? Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson — aka the No. 2 overall player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

MORE: Top DL at the 2023 Shrine Bowl

Murphy incinerated his competition this year, breaking the NCAA record for single-season sacks (25.5) and leading all divisions with 39 tackles for loss (tied for the most all-time). As a one-man wrecking crew, Murphy helped lead Ferris State to back-to-back DII championships in his tenure.

He leaves the Bulldogs with 40 sacks, 60.5 TFLs, and eight forced fumbles on his two-year résumé after transferring from Grand Valley State. Murphy’s explosiveness and raw strength pop on tape, but it will be essential to see it consistently vs. Shrine Bowl opponents.

Quinton Barrow, OL, Grand Valley State

While Murphy will receive most of the fanfare, deservedly so, five other Division 2 prospects also require attention. At 6’5″, 330 pounds with long arms, it will be hard to miss OT Quinton Barrow in Vegas.

The left tackle recorded nearly 40 starts since 2019 (the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID) for Grand Valley State, earning all-conference honors each season. On top of displaying the durability and reliability NFL teams covet, Barrow flashed footwork and athleticism you wouldn’t expect from a man his size.

PFN’s own Tony Pauline highlighted Barrow earlier in the season, stating, “Barrow displays excellent awareness and blocking vision, and he’s always looking for someone to hit. He’s a nasty offensive tackle who works to finish off blocks and bury opponents.”

Although scouts Pauline spoke to listed the GVSU lineman as a late-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Barrow could play himself into the mid-Day 3 range with a solid showing at the 2023 Shrine Bowl.

B.J. Wilson, OL, Quincy

B.J. Wilson committed to Quincy as a tight end, but after redshirting his freshman season, he began to transition to the offensive line. Now standing 6’6″ and 320 pounds with three years of all-conference recognition under his belt, it’s safe to say Wilson has caught the NFL’s eye. Entering the 2022 season, he already had interest from the Bears, Vikings, and Rams.

MORE: Top OTs at the 2023 Shrine Bowl

Basketball was his first love, and it’s easy to see in his ability to box opponents out of the pocket. With the sheer amount of EDGE talent at the Shrine Bowl, Wilson has his work cut out. But if he can hold his own and demonstrate improved play against speed rushers, he’ll shoot up draft boards.

Ethan Evans, P, Wingate

Punters are people, too! In 39 career games, Ethan Evans proved to be one of the most prolific special-teams players in the Division 2 circuit: 186 punts, 43.2-yard average, 72-yard career-long, 47 fair catches, 89 punts inside the 20, and 53 punts of 50+ yards.

He also served as the team’s kickoff specialist, booting 213 for a 62.1-yard average and 120 touchbacks. His 45.7 yards per punt in 2022 ranked second in DII football, with only 11 punters across all NCAA divisions owning a superior average. Evans even handled field goals and extra points this season, converting 10 of 18 FGs (long of 41) and 43 of 44 PATs.

Jacky Chen, OL, Pace

Jacky Chen won’t have a hard time earning name recognition at the Shrine Bowl, but doing so with his play will be more difficult. The 6’6″ and 310-pound left tackle was a three-year starter at Pace, garnering first-team all-conference honors in 2022.

If you can find Pace film, which is about as difficult as it sounds, Chen exhibited patience in pass protection with the lower-body quickness to open his sets. There’s also evidence of him working to the second level as a run blocker and operating in space. Still, NFL scouts will want to monitor how he fares against bull rushers in Vegas.

Brent Laing, OL, Minnesota Duluth

A likely tackle-to-guard convert, Brent Laing has been a stalwart on Minnesota Duluth’s offensive line at right tackle. His 6’4″ and 295-pound build is better suited on the inside due to his middling length, but Laing’s tape will have OL coaches salivating.

He plays with sought-after vigor and viciousness that rarely veers out of control. But what stands outs most about Laing is his suffocating grip strength, halting pass rushers in their tracks and burying defenders into the dirt. But that was against DII opponents — does he have the anchor and upper-body solidity to maintain his success at the Shrine Bowl?

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