In what are actually tryouts for the NFL, five ND seniors were invited to play in three different All-Star bowl games this January. This past Saturday, Brandon Hoyte and Dan Stevenson suited up for the East team in the annual East-West Shrine Game, while Corey Mays and D.J. Fitzpatrick joined former Coach Willingham out in Hawaii for the Hula Bowl. UND.com has the rundown on their performances in the games.
The other guy to play in an all-star game is Maurice Stovall, who will appear in the 2006 Senior Bowl this Saturday.
More than any other all-star bowl, the Senior Bowl is the most like a pre-draft combine. Over 700 NFL scouts and coaches will be taking notes as players are officially weighed in and undergo a week of practice before the game.
From some of the early reports, it seems like Maurice is definitely helping his draft status already. He's recieving praise from NFL Draft Countdown:
The guy who stood out to me at wide receiver was Notre Dame's Maurice Stovall, who took coaching really well, showed big hands to snatch the ball and gave great effort as a blocker.and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper:
WR Maurice Stovall from Notre Dame lumbered a little bit, but he showed enough separation for a big guy. Stovall has very good hands and should go late in the first round or early in the second.If Maurice continues to impress, his draft status will keep moving up. But where will he go? Since former Irish wideout David Givens might be leaving the Patriots -- and given the obvious connection Charlie has to his old team -- New England might be an early favorite:
One name to keep on the radar screen is Notre Dame’s Maurice Stovall. Stovall wasn’t used right at Notre Dame until Charlie Weis got there but he exploded on the scene this season, making a ton of big plays for the Irish. Stovall is a big receiver who has a knack for going up and outfighting defenders for the ball and because Weis and Belichick are so close, Stovall is a player the Patriots could become more intrigued with as the draft draws near.Much of the praise this year has been about how Charlie Weis made Quinn and Samardzija into stars, but Maurice Stovall has benefitted just as much as Brady and Jeff, if not more. He was probably considered a late round draft pick (if that) after his junior year, and now, after his incredible season, there's a possibility he'll creep up into the first round. What a difference a coach makes.