In the SEC, “It Just Means More.” But, in the East-West Shrine game, it’s “More Than Just a Game.” But what, exactly, is it?!
By now, you’ve probably figured out Derrick Baity, Bunchy Stallings and CJ Conrady were all planning on playing in the game. But, as you may have now seen, Conrad will be unable to participate due to a (hopefully) minor injury. Even without Kentucky’s former tight end, the Wildcats will still have two draft prospects in Baity and Stallings back in the Sunshine State. Team practices have been taking place all week, where players have the chance to show off in front of 300 NFL scouts. Derrick Baity is obviously taking his shot:
— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 16, 2019
But it’s the lead-up into the game that gives players a real chance to develop.
It’s become the longest running college all-star football game in the nation. Since 1925, the East-West Shrine Game has benefited Shriners Hospitals for Children, which provides advanced care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate, regardless of a family’s ability to pay for treatment. In addition to team meetings and practices, the players and coaches spend the week before the game visiting Shriners Hospital to get to know some of the children and spend time with the families.
The Shrine game is also the perfect opportunity to watch for players who may otherwise fly a bit under the radar heading into the draft. Last year, Phillip Lindsay competed in the Shrine Game. In the following months, he went from un-drafted signee to a major part of the Denver Broncos offense – he rushed for 1,037 yards and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Believe it or not, Kentucky football is no stranger to the Shrine game. UK’s own Za’Darius Smith brought home MVP honors in 2014. Could another Kentucky player bring home that same award this year?
The game is set to take place on January 19 at 3 p.m. and can be seen on the NFL Network. Plus, we’ll have plenty of coverage right here on KentuckySportsRadio.com.