ST. PETERSBURG — USF had expected to have four former players in Saturday's East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but QB Quinton Flowers had to miss the showcase game after learning that his grandmother had died late last week.
"I most definitely played for Quinton, my brother," said CB Deatrick Nichols, who had four tackles for the East squad in a losing effort. "I grew up with him, so everything he's feeling, I feel the same way. I knew his grandma as well. He has a huge family, and they all stick together."
RB D'Ernest Johnson played well, rushing for 31 yards and catching a 12-yard pass to go with a 27-yard kickoff return. He said his thoughts were with Flowers as well.
"I'm praying for him. He's been through a lot, and we're keeping him in our prayers," Johnson said.
DT Deadrin Senat, who had a strong week of practice, did not dress for the game after suffering a minor knee strain during drills. He had been invited to attend Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., but said he didn't want to participate at less than 100 percent.
"I had a great week. I embraced the opportunity and had one of the best weeks I've had in my life," Senat said. "It's a blessing, and I loved every minute of it. I'm so happy I came here."
Favre in the house
The Shrine Game honored three of its former players by inducting them into its Hall of Fame, most notably former Southern Miss and Packers great QB Brett Favre.
"Honored to be inducted into the East-West Shrine Game Hall of Fame," Favre said on Twitter. HE watched part of the game from a suite at Tropicana Field but was not announced to the crowd as being in attendance. "Great to meet up with a few Shriner children."
Former Louisiana Tech and Saints OT Willie Roaf, who was in attendance, was also inducted, as was former Florida State QB Gary Huff, who was the Bucs' QB in 1977 when Tampa Bay earned its first win after an 0-26 start as a franchise.
This and that
FSU LB Matthew Thomas was a late scratch due to an undisclosed injury. FSU LB Jacob Pugh, a Dade City native, played and was credited with a quarterback hit. … The game's most outstanding player on offense was Northern Iowa WR Daurice Fountain, who had a 38-yard catch and a 30-yard punt return. On defense, the award went to Wisconsin S Natrell Jamerson, who had a 68-yard fumble return for a touchdown. … Seven Bucs assistants participated as coaches, with defensive assistant Danny Breyer (LBs) and assistant strength coach Joe Vaughn on the winning West squad. … Rays pitcher Chris Archer watched the game from the sideline.