Jason Leach Draft Diary: Today is Gameday!

It's been a long, tough week for Jason and the other players taking part in today's East-West Shrine Game. And while practices Thursday and Friday were a little lighthearted compared to the rest of the week, there was still plenty going on as Jason fills us in.

Thursday we had an early morning practice for the first time and it was great to get the work out of the way then have the day to ourselves. We practiced with helmets and shoulder pads and though there was a little bit of hitting going it was not as much as the first three days. During practice we finished up our special teams review going over punt return and kick-off return. 

The most visible difference today was the number of scouts in attendance; only about a quarter of the number that surrounded the field on Wednesday. Our practice today was short and to the point while Wednesday we had a longer day one-on-one period

The set a trip for us to visit Alcatraz later in the day but I did not go because I had been there before and I used the time to catch up on some rest and review game notes.   

The most interesting news from Thursday?  The east coaches were expecting players to come to practice in helmets and shoulder pads but the players decided that they wanted to only wear their helmets! That did not go over to well with their head coach Joe Tiller !

On Friday, the day before the big game we arrived at the stadium around 1:00 PM. 

Initially we had to take individual pictures with our school helmets on then took another picture of the whole team. Finally, the weather began to warm up reaching an average 60 degrees. The coaches are getting pumped for the game tomorrow and want the game to begin as badly as we do. It has been a long trying week for everyone involved. 

The next event for the day was our banquet which was scheduled to start at 6PM but nothing really ever starts on time. 

We started off with a speech from Dan Pearce, chairman of the board of directors. Then Robert Rodriguez, the linebacker from UTEP, led everyone in a prayer before dinner. Finally Timmy Kelly, a Shrine hero who was born blind, sang  a great version of "God Bless America". 

One of the most prestigious honors, the Pat Tillman award, was then given to a very deserving player in the first year of its' existence. 

Morgan Scalley, the All-America safety candidate from Utah was handed the honor.  A second-team all-MWC player last year in his first full year at safety Scalley has a 3.95 GPA and has played wide receiver, running back and safety in his Ute career, while also returning kickoffs and punts.

Well, today is the big day and it will be nice to let some steam off on the opponents and do some real hitting!

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