When the East - West Shrine Game kicks off from Tropicana Field Saturday afternoon, for many of the players on the sidelines, it will be the final opportunity to impress NFL scouts before the league's upcoming draft in April.
"You think about it a lot but it's kind of ironic because you're so close but sometimes it seems so far," said former USF linebacker Sam Barrington. "So, we have to just keep in mind how close we are but how far we are at the same time and continue to work every day in and out."
Barrington is one of eight players who played college football in the state of Florida that will participate in the showcase game designed to match top college stars from each side of the country against each other.
Barrington is joined by Kayvon Webster (USF), Caleb Sturgis (UF), Josh Evans (UF), Anthony McCloud (FSU), Rodney Smith (FSU), Nick Moody (FSU) and Brandon McGee (MIA) on the East squad. Many other players, like former Rutgers tight end D.C. Jefferson, played high school football in this state.
All of them are chasing the same dream.
"It's really a blessing, man. I can't say it's nerve racking," said Smith. "It's a blessing from God to know that we're in this opportunity to be able to work our way up to possibly playing in the NFL."
The Shrine game is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. For more information on the game, watch 10 News Friday night and visit www.shrinegame.com