Pitt will have three representatives in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game, as former Panthers cornerback Avonte Maddox, wide receiver Jester Weah and offensive lineman Jaryd Jones-Smith made the East team’s roster. The three have been in St. Petersburg, Florida, this week practicing for the game, and they’ve turned some heads with their performances.
On Tuesday, Weah was singled out as one of the “winners” of the day’s practice by Eric Galko of Sporting News. Galko also named Weah one of his top 20 players to watch in the Shrine Game, citing his size, speed, strength and creativity in picking up yards after the catch.
The Shrine Game will be particularly important for Weah, as he was considered one of the top receivers in college football entering the 2017 season but had a down year. Part of the reason for that was subpar quarterback play, so he may benefit from the uptick in talent under center, as he’ll be taking the field alongside Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Memphis’ Riley Ferguson.
For the former Pitt receiver, a good game this weekend could go a long way toward raising his profile ahead of the draft. And if he’s able to tack on a solid performance at the NFL combine next month, he could find his stock rising at exactly the right time.
Meanwhile, Maddox has been making the most of his week in Florida, as he came into the first practice on Tuesday decidedly under the radar but has piqued the interest of scouts and reporters and become one of the Shrine Game’s most talked about prospects.
Jeff Risdon of Texans Wire broke down Maddox’s first practice on Tuesday.
”Maddox was the best of the East team cornerbacks at jamming the receiver on the first day,” Risdon said. “He also showed good burst with the ball in the air and long speed. His Pitt teammate Jester Weah could not shake him despite having at least four inches in height and a faster first 10 yards.”
By Wednesday, Maddox was practicing with the first team, according to Trevor Sikkema of Pewter Report, who also passed along video of the cornerback breaking up a pass and setting up an interception for former Ohio State safety Damon Webb:
#Pitt CB Avonte Maddox again here. This time he gets up for the PBU to allow the interception by #Buckeyes S Damon Webb. pic.twitter.com/4aNJVansOx— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) January 17, 2018
Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News noted representatives of the Buffalo Bills spoke with Maddox on Wednesday. He’s also reportedly drawn interest from the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles and caught the eye of the Oakland Raiders.
For his part, Weah has had post-practice interviews with the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per Sikkema. And even Jones-Smith, who has had a quieter week, met with the Houston Texans, according to Patrick Starr of State of the Texans.
The Shrine Game is set to kick off from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, at 3 p.m. ET and can be viewed on the NFL Network.