The third of the four prestigious collegiate all-star games is the 2024 Shrine Bowl. As the oldest college all-star game, the East-West Shrine Bowl has been putting players into the NFL since 1925.
The East-West Shrine Bowl featured four former MAC players in 2023, three of whom ended up drafted. This year, things have been a tad different as the NFL allowed non-seniors to be able to participate in post-season all-star games. Thus, only one former MAC player is set to suit up: Dallas Gant from Toledo.
The game is set to be played on Thursday, February 1st, 2024 at 7:00 P.M. CST in Frisco, Texas at Ford Center at the Star (Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility). Last year, the game was played in Las Vegas and prior to that, St. Petersburg, Florida.
This year, the coaching assignments will be a bit different with coaches from multiple NFL teams taking their own positions. At head coach, the East team will be coached by Chicago Bears special teams coordinator, Richard Hightower. Meanwhile, the West will be led by New York Giants offensive coordinator, Mike Kafka.
The MAC’s Lone Shrine Bowl Participant, Dallas Gant
It hasn’t been a typical career for Toledo’s star linebacker but he made the most of every opportunity. He started off his career at Ohio State but transferred to Toledo before the 2022 season.
Coming out of high school, Gant was a four-star prospect out of Toledo St. John’s Jesuit and was part of Ohio State’s 2018 class. In his four years at Ohio State, Gant appeared in every game where he was part of the team for a total of 38 games, mostly on special teams. The caveat is that Gant elected to transfer after three games in the 2021 season. In that time, Gant recorded 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. He also forced two fumbles, recovered one, and broke up a pass.
He transferred back home to Toledo in 2022, becoming an immediate impact player on the Rockets defense. In his debut season, Gant broke out to the tune of 116 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss, two forced fumbles, and five pass breakups. He led the team in tackles and earned first-team all-MAC honors as the sixth-leading tackler in the MAC. Gant recorded double-digit tackles in a single game five times on the year, including the 10 in the MAC Football Championship Game win.
Last year, Gant was impressively consistent. He finished with 116 tackles again with eight tackles-for-loss and a sack. For good measure, he added an interception, a forced fumble, and two pass breakups. Again, his 116 tackles were sixth-most in the MAC as he earned First-Team All-MAC honors.
Gant is likely to be projected as a potential day three selection, but with a strong performance in the East-West Shrine Bowl, paired with his intangibles and leadership qualities, he could find himself rising on NFL Draft boards.