The Texas vs. the Nation Challenge can become an afterthought on the postseason all-star game circuit, primarily because it is held in El Paso the week after the heralded Senior Bowl.
The success of recent participants has helped raise interest in the game among scouts and administrators.
|Colts playoff hero Pierre Garcon is one of the Texas vs. Nation recent alumni. (Getty Images)|
The 2010 rosters -- no longer fully tied to geographical boundaries -- are filled with small-school stars and solid players from major programs not invited to the East-West or Senior Bowl.
Quarterback Ryan Perrilloux (6-feet-2, 228 pounds, 4.87 40-yard dash) went from LSU wunderkind to Ohio Valley Conference star at Jacksonville State. Off-field issues were at the root of his problems in Baton Rouge, and he'll have to wow with his performance to earn a look from NFL teams.
Quick receiver and return specialist Preston Parker (5-11, 195, 4.49) had a similar road to North Alabama after initially attending Florida State.
Defensive end/rush linebacker Junior Galette (6-2, 255, 4.63) transferred from Temple to Stillman for his senior season after an off-field incident.
The performances of that trio at Texas vs. Nation practices and team interviews during the week will have a large effect on their final draft standing.
Players from outside the Football Bowl Subdivision (former Division 1A) to watch this week include hustling South Dakota State defensive end Danny Batten (6-3, 250, 4.68), agile end/linebackers Tim Knicky (Stephen F. Austin, 6-4, 236, 4.64) and Adrian Tracy (William & Mary, 6-3, 243, 4.70), strong but quick running back Deji Karim (Illinois State, 5-9, 204, 4.48), productive receiver Juamorris Stewart (Southern University, 6-1, 196, 4.56), and tall, athletic offensive tackle Jared Veldheer (Hillsdale, 6-8, 321, 4.89).
Several talented SEC players will draw attention. Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton (6-4, 228, 4.79) and Ole Miss safety Kendrick Lewis (5-11, 195, 4.59) are likely to receive the most attention from scouts.
Big East champion Cincinnati is represented by intriguing end/rush linebacker prospect Alex Daniels (6-3, 259, 4.74) and aggressive safety Aaron Webster (6-2, 211, 4.54). Penn State's first-team All-Big Ten left tackle, Dennis Landolt (6-4, 306, 5.26), will also be in attendance.
Others with a lot to gain from non-automatic qualifying FBS schools to watch include New Mexico center Erik Cook (6-6, 318, 5.36). He's a two-time All-Mountain West pick, brother of NFL offensive tackle Ryan Cook and is looking forward to making a name for himself.
Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller (6-4, 234, 4.98) earned second-team All-MAC honors in 2009 and has the size and tools to earn a job at the next level.
Running back Dominique Lindsey (5-10, 202, 4.57) is coming off a big bowl performance for East Carolina, rushing for 150 yards and a score against Arkansas -- another SEC school represented in this game by active defensive lineman Adrian Davis (6-4, 252, 4.79).
Chad Reuter is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.