East-West Shrine Game 2012: Overlooked Players Getting Attention At Practices

The East-West Shrine Game is set to kick off on Saturday, January 21 in St. Petersburg, Florida.Top college football players from around the country are getting an opportunity to impress NFL representatives and fans alike in the annual All-Star game.

Wes Bunting of National Football Post had the opportunity to take a look at some of the East players during practice on Tuesday and came away impressed by some of the athletes who spent the regular season mostly being overlooked. Here is what he has to say about Southern Carolina State defensive back Christian Thompson:

He possesses a long, lean frame, can cleanly turn out of his transition and has solid speed when trying to run with speedy receivers from the slot. Now, he does get a bit leggy at times and doesn't have a great feel recognizing routes in man. And despite putting himself in position to make a number of plays today, he didn't due to his struggles initially locating the football. However, he's a good athlete who can run, change directions and overall is the one safety on the East roster who has made a solid impression on me.

Here is Bunting's take on University of Regina defensive tackle Akiem Hicks:

[Hicks] looks the part of a standout defensive lineman at nearly 6-5, 325 pounds. He was very impressive during one-on-one drills today, showcasing impressive initial burst off the snap for his size, power on his bull rush and the length to routinely gain leverage. He also exhibits "plus" short area quickness for a guy his size. He does get upright at times and will stall out when an opposing lineman is able to get under his frame. However, he has the skill set to not only make an NFL roster, but also mature into a solid contributor with some experience in either a 34 or 43 front.

On the offensive side of the ball, Bunting had some good things to say about Miami tight end Chase Ford:

Ford had a monster practice making plays on the football. He isn't a real explosive athlete and lacks much burst off the line. However, he builds speed down the field, showcases good ball skills and coordination, and did a nice job playing with a defender on his hip. Now, he's not to be confused in any way with former Miami standout Jimmy Graham. However at 6-6, 258 pounds you could do a lot worse with a developmental tight end prospect in the back end of the draft.

Lots of players from smaller markets are going to be getting a long look at the practices leading up to Saturday's game. They are likely to be making most of this opportunity.

Stay tuned to SB Nation for more college football news.

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