We’re roughly one week away from the greatest football spectacle of the year. Super Bowl LVIII kicks off Sunday, Feb. 11 from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, as the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers compete for the sport’s ultimate prize — 7 pounds of sterling silver, known as the Lombardi Trophy.
While the majority of attention in the football world is focused on the happenings in Sin City, this off-week is dedicated to showcasing the next crop of NFL stars. On Thursday, the 99th East-West Shrine Bowl kicked off in the rising college football hotbed of Frisco, TX for the first time ever.
The West squad edged the East, 26-11, at the Ford Center, which is primarily utilized as the Dallas Cowboys’ 12,000-seat practice facility. Southern Miss running back Frank Gore Jr. and Tulane cornerback Jarius Monroe took home MVP honors for the West, impressing scouts with standout performances in Frisco.
Frank Gore Jr., Offensive MVP
Frank Gore Jr. initiated the scoring effort in the first quarter on a 49-yard run. With all his blockers directed toward the right, Gore quickly saw an opening to the left and snuck past the opposing linebackers, finishing untouched for the longest run of the contest. The three-time All-Sun Belt selection concluded the game with six rushes for 87 yards and a touchdown.
All aboard the Frank Gore Jr hype train— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 2, 2024
The 21-year old’s name certainly comes with NFL ties, as his father Frank Gore is the league’s third all-time leading rusher, only trailing Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton with 16,000 flat. The younger Gore made a name for himself at Southern Miss, however, finishing with 1,382 yards in 2022 and 1,131 this past season. In the 2022 LendingTree Bowl, he posted 329 rushing yards in an MVP performance — a bowl record which still stands to this day.
Jarius Monroe, Defensive MVP
Jarius Monroe secured the only interception of the 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl, setting up a late fourth quarter field goal for the West. The Tulane cornerback intercepted WKU quarterback Austin Reed, jumping in front of a 50-50 ball to force a turnover. Monroe also finished the game with one solo tackle and one credited pass deflection.
The two-time First Team All-AAC corner played two seasons in New Orleans after initiating his college career at Nicholls of the FCS level. Monroe quickly became a key component of the Green Wave’s success, totaling three interceptions, eight pass breakups, and tackles during their 2022 Cotton Bowl run — complete with a top 10 AP Poll finish. In 2023, Monroe nearly replicated that stat-line with another three interceptions to his name. He was the epitome of a big game player at Tulane, securing one pick in that famous Cotton Bowl victory over USC and another in his final collegiate game — the 2023 AAC Championship Game.