FCS players impress at Shrine, NFLPA bowls
By CRAIG HALEY
(Stats Perform) - Former Illinois State running back James Robinson said he loves the doubters.
Robinson, teammate Luther Kirk and more than two dozen players from the FCS level helped make believers with impressive performances at the two college football all-star games Saturday.
Kirk and Robinson were standouts for the West in its 31-27 loss to the East at the 95th East-West Shrine Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida. Chattanooga quarterback Nick Tiano won MVP honors following the National team's 30-20 victory over the American squad at the 9th NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Robinson, who capped his Illinois State career with over 1,900 rushing yards as a senior, gained 136 yards from scrimmage - 80 on seven carries and 56 on two receptions. Included was a 63-yard touchdown that was the longest run in the history of the game.
Kirk, a safety, had an interception that led to a West touchdown and two tackles, claiming defensive MVP honors.
"Today was great for me and Luther and we love the doubters," Robinson said. "For all the FCS players out there, remember playing at small schools doesn't mean anything. Keep working hard and show how talented you are."
Also for the West, Montana linebacker Dante Olson, winner of the 2019 Stats Perform Buck Buchanan Award, had a team-high seven tackles, and Bucknell's Alex Pechin averaged 41.4 yards on five punts, dropping three inside the 30. East standouts included Princeton quarterback Kevin Davidson, who completed 6 of 11 passes for 51 yards, and Rhode Island wide receiver Aaron Parker, who caught two passes for 35 yards.
At the NFLPA game, Tiano was 8 of 10 for 135 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown pass, in the National team's win. He teamed behind center with San Diego's Reid Sinnett, who was 9 of 16 for 93 yards with 13 more on the ground.
"It was a good night," Tiano said. "For us small-school guys, this was a big opportunity to come out here and show what we can do."
Tennessee State wide receiver Chris Rowland caught three passes for 15 yards and returned punts for the National team. For the American squad, Western Illinois defensive tackle LaCale London totaled five tackles and a forced fumble, South Dakota State linebacker Christian Rozeboom had four tackles and Weber State defensive end Jonah Williams added three stops, while Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Knipp was 3 of 5 for 9 yards and Cal Poly's J.J. Koski caught a 20-yard pass.
Updated January 20, 2020