ST. PETERSBURG — Former NFL coach Romeo Crennel said all three of his West quarterbacks will play in today's East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but he expects Ball State's Keith Wenning to get the first shot after a strong week of practice.
"It looks like he might have a slight edge and might get the call to start," Crennel said. "He's a tall quarterback (6 feet 3), has a good arm and some accuracy. He's been making good decisions in practice."
Wenning had prolific numbers at Ball State as a senior, throwing for 4,148 yards and 35 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. USF fans might remember his name — his touchdown with 1:02 left in 2012 gave the Cardinals a 31-27 win against the Bulls, an early setback as Skip Holtz's team lost nine of its last 10 games.
Wenning is rated as ESPN's No. 18 quarterback in May's NFL draft, one spot ahead of West teammate Keith Price of Washington. Notre Dame's Tommy Rees will also see action, with former Lakewood High star Bernard Reedy, a receiver from Toledo, among their top targets.
IMPRESSED: Former Michigan State LB Max Bullough is one of the game's best draft prospects. ESPN has him among its top 100 and the No. 4 inside linebacker, suggesting he could go in the top three rounds.
Bullough was suspended from the Spartans' Rose Bowl game for an unspecified violation of team rules and has declined interview requests this week. He also weighed in at 265 pounds, 20 more than listed on the roster this season, but he has left a positive impression on Crennel.
"He looks like a football player, and he enjoys the game," Crennel said. "At his position, he's taken charge, calling signals. He does a good job of reading offensive plays, understanding coverage, understanding run fits. There are a lot of positives for him."
THIS AND THAT: Crennel can't confirm anything but soon after the game, he'll be announced as the Houston Texans' defensive coordinator. … Two players have already earned invitations to double-dip and play in next week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. — Oklahoma C Gabe Ikard and Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo. … The game has few roster requirements, but tradition calls for at least one player from Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as two players from Canada, where the Shriners have a presence. The East team has OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of McGill University in Montreal, while the West has DL Evan Gill of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.