(Stats Perform) – Fresh off playing in the FCS championship game, some North Dakota State and James Madison seniors are still in cleats, this week transitioning to two of the major college all-star games.
North Dakota State beat James Madison 28-20 in the title game in Frisco, Texas, last Saturday. Instead of returning to their respective campuses, North Dakota State tight end Ben Ellefson and defensive end Derrek Tuszka flew to East-West Shrine Bowl week in St. Petersburg, Florida, and North Dakota State offensive guard Zack Johnson and James Madison defensive end Ron’Dell Carter went directly to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, California.
The showcases draw hundreds of NFL personnel to a week of practices and Saturday’s games to evaluate candidates for the NFL Draft.
“Another game of the season, I guess,” Johnson said with a laugh in Frisco. “I think it’s kind of cool. It will be nice to just go right into it. Other guys have probably been off for a while. It’s nice to know we’ll be fitting right in, ready to go.”
The 95th Shrine Game includes 14 players from the FCS level. There are 15 at the ninth Collegiate Bowl.
Carter and Tuszka, the CAA and Missouri Valley defensive players of the year, respectively, were both selected by Stats Perform as first-team All-Americans. Ellefson and Johnson made the third team.
“I’ve been dreaming about (an NFL career) since I was a 6-year-old kid,” Carter said. “I didn’t know when I transferred here (Rutgers) that this would be the reality.
“If you’re good enough, they’ll find you.”
95th East-West Shrine Bowl
at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida
3 p.m. ET Saturday (NFL Network)
Princeton QB Kevin Davidson (roster No. 11)
Rhode Island OG Kyle Murphy (64)
Rhode Island WR Aaron Parker (80)
Dartmouth CB Isiah Swann (21)
Wagner LB Cam Gill (92)
North Dakota State TE Ben Ellefson (81)
Illinois State FS Luther Kirk (34)
Montana LB Dante Olson (42)
Bucknell P Alex Pechin (11)
Yale QB Kurt Rawlings (5)
Illinois State RB James Robinson (25)
Montana State DE Bryce Sterk (97)
North Dakota State DE Derrek Tuszka (91)
Wagner DT Chris Williams (93)
9th NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California
7 p.m. ET Saturday (NFL Network)
Southeast Missouri DT Josh Avery (roster No. 90)
Sam Houston State TE Woody Brandom (85)
UAlbany WR/KR Juwan Green (84)
North Dakota State OG Zack Johnson (69)
Northern Colorado QB Jacob Knipp (7)
Cal Poly WR J.J. Koski (86)
Western Illinois DT LaCale London (95)
South Dakota State LB Christian Rozeboom (58)
Weber State DE Jonah Williams (96)
James Madison DE Ron’Dell Carter (98)
Yale OG/C Dieter Eiselen (72)
Jacksonville State WR Josh Pearson (88)
Tennessee State WR Chris Rowland (87)
San Diego QB Reid Sinnett (17)
Chattanooga QB Nick Tiano (7)