Justin Watson’s pro football career might have just gotten one step closer.
Watson was invited to compete in the 93rd East-West Shrine Game, an annual all-star game featuring top college football seniors from schools around the U.S.
"I am thankful for the opportunity to represent Penn one more time at the Shrine Game," Watson said in a press release. "My coaches and teammates have all helped me become the player I am and have helped put me in the position to play at the next level. I look forward to this challenge and taking the next step in my football career."
Watson’s invitation to the East-West Shrine Game comes as no surprise.
Watson was just named a STATS FCS first team All-American and was unanimously selected first team All-Ivy for the third straight year. He now racked up five career All-American selections by different publications, and was a two-time finalist for FCS Offensive Player of the Year. Other winners of the FCS Offensive Player of the Year award include current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
On the field this season, Watson capped off his legendary career at Penn in style. He led the team with 1,083 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 81 receptions. He also leaves Penn holding the program records in receiving yards, all-purpose yards, receiving touchdowns, and receptions, all of which he broke during the course of the season.
"Our program is thrilled for Justin to have the opportunity to showcase his skills in front of all 32 NFL organizations as he begins his professional career," coach Ray Priore said in a press release. "As a five-time All-American and two-time finalist for FCS Offensive Player of the Year, Justin is widely recognized as one of the elite players in all of FCS Football and has been unstoppable inside the Ivy League for the past three seasons. He's transitioning the extraordinary work ethic he's used to lead our program into his preparation for the next level and we are all excited to see him compete at the Shrine Game and represent our program as he always has."
If the East-West Shrine Game sounds familiar to Quaker fans, that’s because it is. Former Penn great Alek Torgersen took the field for the East team in last year’s edition of the East-West Shrine Game. Watson will be the the second wide receiver and 27th player overall in program history to play in the Shrine game.
College all-star games like the East-West Shrine Game and the Reese’s Senior Bowl are designed to showcase some of the best college football players in advance of the NFL draft. Often, strong performances in these games can drastically help a prospect rise up draft boards. Many NFL scouts attend the practices before the game and are able to see the prospects up close.
Torgersen’s strong performance at last year’s showcase helped him to get signed as an undrafted free-agent by the Atlanta Falcons. Watson will likely be hoping for similar success in hopes of being drafted in April.
The East-West Shrine Game will take place on January 20, 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida at Tropicana Field.
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