football Edit

Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas: 10 players who shined

RELATED: Shrine Bowl prospects make commitment predictions

The 82nd annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas took place on Saturday afternoon, with the two teams playing to a 10-10 tie, the first tie in the annual game in more than 50 years. But the final score wasn't the only notable happening at the event, as several recruiting stars turned in big performances. Here's a breakdown of the 10 players who impressed us the most.


Recruiting: Knight committed to Duke in early March of this year but two and a half months later he decided to decommit. NC State immediately became the favorite to land his commitment and the Wolfpack reeled him in in early July. Knight has remained a solid commit ever since.

Breakdown: Knight was easily the most electric player on either team during the game. The NC State commit has such a quick first step and there is a good chance he scores if he sees even the smallest hole to run through. Throughout the week, Knight was used as a weapon out of the backfield on swing passes and screen plays but during the game he shined as a runner. He broke off a long touchdown run of 61-yards in the first half and battled through a couple of bumps and bruises finishing with a game high 151-yards and a touchdown

Recruiting: McCollum committed to Wake Forest over the summer and is expected to sign with the Demon Deacons next week.

Breakdown: McCollum has impressed every step of the way during his high school career, from starring on the field to dominating camps, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he was all over the field in his last high school game. McCollum finished the game with five tackles, a sack, one pass breakup and one blocked punt. Wake Forest was smart to lock McCollum up early and there will be several schools kicking themselves that they didn't make a run at him during the process.

Recruiting: Pickens is committed to South Carolina and is expected to sign with the school on Wednesday.

Breakdown: As the highest-ranked player in the game, Pickens came in with expectations to excel and that's exactly what he did. He was all over the field, getting timely pressure against the pass and making stops in the run game. As he gets bigger and stronger, Pickens will only continue to get better, which is pretty scary considering his accomplishments to date. In addition to his seven tackles and one pass deflection, Pickens also played some wildcat quarterback, where he led the South Carolina team in rushing with 37 yards.

Recruiting: In late January Groulx committed to Wisconsin but many other schools pursued him. He decommitted from the Badgers in early May but the other schools that were coming after him backed off, opening the door for Wake Forest. In the end, the numerous connections he has to the Demon Deacons helped Groulx decide that Wake Forest was where he needed to be. He committed to the in-state program in mid-June.

Breakdown: We’ve become accustomed to Groulx’s sure hands and he did not disappoint in the Shrine Bowl. He had a game high seven catches and led North Carolina with 60 receiving yards while proving to be the safety outlet for his quarterbacks. The Wake Forest commit’s route running skills helped him create plenty of separation and the burst he has off his plant foot make it really hard for defenders for get a hand on him.

Recruiting: Beville committed to Pittsburgh over the summer and is expected to sign next week and enroll early in January.

Breakdown: Beville came into the game in the first quarter and immediately made his presence felt, throwing a 45-yard touchdown pass that was a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, he didn't get many opportunities to throw again until late in the game. Nevertheless, Beville led all passers in the game, finishing 9-of-16 for 114 yards and a touchdown, while also adding six yards rushing.

Recruiting: Jackson was a national recruit that could have picked his destination. After multiple visits, his recruitment boiled down to NC State and South Carolina. The in-state program pulled it out and his commitment help begin a nice run of defensive line commitments for NC State.

Breakdown: Another NC State commit to have a big game on Saturday, Jackson got one of the two turnovers in the game but that’s not the only reason why he was a top performer. Jackson has great speed at the snap and made a lot of plays in the backfield. That ability to penetrated the offensive line will certainly help him at the next level. Jackson made one of the biggest hits of the game when he sacked the South Carolina quarterback.

Recruiting: Walker wasn’t the most heavily recruited prospect but did amass an offer sheet that featured schools like Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee and others but he’s recruitment came down to South Carolina, Virginia Tech and NC State. The in-state program was viewed as the favorite for the majority of his recruitment but a visit to Blacksburg the weekend before his scheduled commitment in mid-October won him over. The Hokies pulled off the upset and he remains solidly committed to Virginia Tech despite overtures from NC State.

Breakdown: Walker was all over the field in the game and he tied for the team lead in tackles with six. Listed as an athlete, Walker projects as a safety at the next level and he looks to have a bright future in Blacksburg. His physical play and ability to anticipate will help him see the field early in his career. Expect Walker to make a lot of plays near the line of scrimmage and create turnovers, like he did in the game on Saturday.

Recruiting: Williams committed to Clemson over the summer and is expected to sign with the Tigers next week.

Breakdown: Williams came into the week with a lot to prove and is likely due for a rankings boost after an impressive performance. He covered a lot of ground for a player his size and was effective as a pass rusher, finishing the game with five tackles and one sack. Williams has drawn comparisons to current Clemson linebacker and former five-star Tre Lamar. He's not quite at that level but it's obvious to see why Clemson sees him being a contributor down the road.

Recruiting: Thomas emerged as a major recruit early in his high school career and picked up offers from coast to coast. It quickly became apparent that Thomas was going to follow his brother, Thayer Thomas, to N.C. State and that’s exactly what happened when Thomas committed in early June of this year.

Breakdown: Thomas is a tackling machine and that should continue at NC State. He plays with his hair on fire, running from sideline-to-sideline and plugging running lanes that open up in front of him. The energy Thomas plays with is very clear to the naked eye and he helps his teammates take their game to the next level. Thomas has become known for his instinctual play and that helped him get five tackles in the game.

Recruiting: Smith committed to South Carolina over the summer and is set to sign with the Gamecocks next week.

Breakdown: Smith showed an impressive ability to fly around the field and he seems to be around the ball, even when it wasn't thrown his way. He likely would have been higher on this list if it weren't for a few missed tackles and an unnecessary pass interference penalty in the first half. Smith's upside is tantalizing and he will likely only continue to improve under the tutelage of noted defensive back guru Travaris Robinson at South Carolina.