Casino Del Sol showcase has in-state flavor

BY foxsports • January 13, 2012


With another season officially in the books, attention in the college football world turns to the annual showcase games for draft-eligible seniors, and it all begins in Arizona.

Every NFL team had a set of eyes on practice this week as nearly 100 players prepared for Monday's Casino Del Sol All-Star Game in Tucson, the first game of the showcase season.

The game, which will air at 6 p.m. Monday on FOX Sports Arizona, features a host of national talents and plenty of local flavor. Arizona, Arizona State and Northern Arizona combine for 12 representatives in the game, while big-name players such as LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee headline the game from a national perspective.

UA leads the in-state crowd with six former players, including wide receiver Gino Crump and cornerback Robert Golden, both potential picks in April's NFL draft. With pro scouts watching closely, such players have the chance to raise their draft stock in the game at Kino Stadium.

Crump caught 65 passes for 610 yards this past season, and Golden tallied 69 tackles. Joining them in the game are UA linebackers Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo, meaning the Wildcats top three tacklers will take the field.

Teaming with ex-Wildcat seniors on the "Stripes" team, odd as it may be, are four former Sun Devils including linebacker Colin Parker and wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad. Parker was an emotional leader for the Sun Devils defense and also led them statistically with 75 tackles. Pflugrad was one of quarterback Brock Osweiler's favorite targets, reeling in 44 catches for 665 yards, second only to Gerell Robinson.

Lee comes to the desert after a trip to New Orleans for the BCS national championship game, though he didn't see action in LSU's loss to Alabama. Lee began the year as LSU's backup but started the first eight games of the season for the Tigers in part due to Jordan Jefferson's suspension, passing for 1,306 yards and 14 touchdowns before Jefferson reclaimed the job in the team's first meeting with Alabama.

Also calling signals with Lee on the "Stars" team will be Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne, who threw for 3,090 yards and 28 touchdowns in the Golden Hurricane's 8-5 season. Former Arkansas and Mississippi coach Houston Nutt will coach the squad.

The "Stripes" team has former Fresno State coach Pat Hill at the helm and former UA coach Dick Tomey serving as an assistant. It's a bit of role reversal since Tomey, who led the Wildcats from 1987 to 2000, once employed Hill as an assistant. Their quarterbacks include Washington State's Marshall Lobbestael and San Jose State's Matthew Faulkner.

Other in-state representatives include Arizona defensive linemen Mohammed Usman and C.J. Parish and fullback David Hill; Arizona State safety Eddie Elder and long snapper Cameron Kastl; and Northern Arizona tight end Brian Riley and punter Drew Zamora.

Practices for the game, which was played in Tempe last year as the Eastham Energy All-Star Game, began Wednesday, so the team must work quickly to prepare and get on the same page. In the end, games like this aren't about the final score but rather who stands out the most in hopes of punching their ticket to the next level.


share story