As California prepares for the Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force, it remains unknown whether or not senior running back Daniel Lasco is going to be ready to play one final game in a Cal Bears uniform. Whether he plays in the game or not, Lasco will have one more game to play before testing the NFL waters next spring. Lasco accepted an invitation to play in the annual East-West Shrine Game earlier this month.
The Senior Bowl may be the top senior all-star game in college football, but the East-West Shrine Game continues to be a strong second in the pecking order among all-star events for college football players looking to move on to the NFL. This will be the 91st year the game has been played, a testament to the impact the game has not just for the players, but for the Shriners Hospitals that the game supports.
Lasco has rushed for 1,872 career yards with 18 touchdowns. Lasco was bogged down by some injury issues this season, which led to a disappointing year with just 331 rushing yards and three touchdowns. This is why the East-West Shrine Game will be important for Lasco. Just like the Senior Bowl, scouts from around the NFL make their way to the Shrine Game to check out practices and the game, as well as get a chance to interact with the prospective players during the course of the week. A total of 72 Pro Football Hall of Famers have played in the Shrine Game and 265 players currently on an NFL roster played in the game. All-star games are great opportunities for promising players to prove something one last time as well, especially when they have battled through injury issues to reduce the impact they may have had during the regular season.
As it stands right now, Lasco is not expected to be selected by an NFL team in the 2016 NFL Draft. That could potentially change with a strong showing in the Shrine Game. At the very least, Lasco can prove worthy of a quick phone call as an undrafted free agent, and that is not always a terrible thing.
The East-West Shrine Game will be played on January 23, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida and will be televised by the NFL Network at 1 p.m. PT.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.