By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63
On a beautiful sunny California day, 197 athletes from all over the nation came to compete and showcase their talents at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Though their week was filled with rain and mud, that did not stop their drive to make their coaches and teammates proud.
Lead by former head coaches Mike Tice and Chuck Pagano, the NFLPA Bowl would produce a cache of future NFL superstars and expose them to the expertise of veteran players who still have their hand in the game they love.
Several players took advantage of the presence and teachings of NFL greats such as wide receiver Plaxico Burris, Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater, running back Clinton Portis and defensive back Ed Reed.
One player in particular who felt he benefitted, was running back Wes Hills from Slippery Rock University. “Working with legends is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It gave me more confidence to play for coach Portis and Moe (Williams). They helped my focus on the little things like, keeping my shoulders square or reading defensive fronts. I just wanted to be in the coaches ear”
Hills finished the game with 10 touches, 78 rushing yards, and a touchdown. It was enough to crown him MVP of the game and the respect of those in attendance. Just two days prior to the game, Hills was invited to play at the Senior Bowl, an opportunity he was humbled to receive. “All my life I was never recognized for my accomplishments”, said Hill.
Well, today he was!
Other honorable mentions of the game were:
*WR Emmanuel Butler (NAU) 4 touches/55 receiving yards
*QB Jake Browning (UW) 9-17 completions/ 114 passing yards
*LB Darius Harris (MTS) 12 tackles /9 solo/3 Ast
*CB Brandon Watson (UM) 7 tackles /6 solo/1 Ast
Final score American 10 – National 7.
(Northern Arizona University, University of Washington, Middle Tennessee State; University of Michigan)
Follow Wanda on Twitter // @WandaW63