The scouting combine bowl season is starting to heat up, and a handful of recognizable names are sprinkled on the rosters of the major televised bowl games.
The East-West Shrine game is set to have four players who particiapted in this year’s #MACtion rostered, as well as a former MAC footballer who made the roster as a graduate transfer to a Power Five institution.
The East team has two Western Michigan players in offensive lineman Luke Juriga and tight end Giovanni Ricci, and Buffalo offensive lineman Evan Ksiezrczyk, while the West team rosters WMU running back LeVante Bellamy.
Juriga started every game in his collegiate career at WMU, with 52 starts between center and right guard, winning all-MAC honors in three of his four seasons (first-team in 2018 and 2019, second-team in 2017.) At six-foot-four, 298 lbs., Juriga is considered a potential NFL Draft pick at center.
Ricci, who started his career as a wide receiver, was converted to tight end halfway through his career and became a mismatch from the end position as a vertical threat. RIcci, standing at six-foot-three, 240 lbs., finished the 2019 with 51 receptions for 642 yards and eight touchdowns, placing him amongst the top passcatchers in the MAC, as well as mongst the top tight ends in the country. Ricci was a first-team all-MAC tight end in 2019, and was also named to the all-MAC third team in 2018.
Ksiezrczyk, who stands at six-foot-six- 310 lbs., has been Buffalo’s most dependable offensive lineman over the last three seasons, starting in all 39 games at left tackle. He’s an exceptional run blocker, with decent pass block ability as well; in 2018, his unit gave up an FBS-low 15 sacks. Ksiezrczyk was named to the all-MAC first team in 2019 and the all-MAC second team in 2018.
Bellamy was one of the nation’s most dynamic runners in 2019, amassing 1,472 yards on 266 carries for 23 touchdowns (tied for best in the country.) He carried for 100+ yards in eight of the 13 games he participated in, averaging 5.5 yards per rush. Bellamy shone in his chance as the head man in the WMU rotation when given the chance this year; in 2016 and 2017, his seasons were cut short due to injury, while he split carries in 2018. He finished 2018 and 2019 on the all-MAC first team, and clocked a 4.28 40-yard dash during summer workouts, making him an intriguing pro prospect.
An honorable mention goes to Michigan defensive end Mike Danna, who finished his career in Ann Arbor after three years as a stalwart on the Central Michigan defensive line. Danna had 38 total tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble in maize and blue.
The East-West Shrine Game, the oldest continuous scouting combine bowl, is set to take place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Sat., Jan. 18 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern, and will be aired nationally on NFL Network.