January 20, 2012

Golden Eagle Tim Benford ready for spotlight in East-West Shrine game

Click here to view the complete team rosters for the Shringe Game

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tennessee Tech All-America wide receiver Tim Benford has drawn quite a bit of attention this week during practices in preparation for the 87th annual East-West Shrine Game to be played Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

The game, set to kick off at 3 p.m. CT, will be televised on The NFL Network.

It's an opportunity for Benford, the Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year, to raise his chances in the upcoming NFL draft, and the former Red Bank High School star from Chattanooga has taken full advantage of his time in the national spotlight.

He has been one of the standout players for the East team throughout the week of two-a-day practices.

Numerous reports from football writers who attended practices gave favorable reviews to Benford.

According to one writer: "Tim Benford has been one of the bigger early surprises at the East-West Shrine Game this week. He's been the best wide receiver on the East team each of the first two days. He wasn't expected to show much speed, but he's been consistently getting separation from some pretty decent defensive backs.

"He's small but he's put up great numbers at TTU. Prior to this week he was projected to be a late round pick, but if he keeps this up he could even break into the fourth round. He's very confident but humble, and it seems like he's pretty smart too."

Another writer points to Benford as one of the players who could be a headliner for an East squad being coached by former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross.

The writers says: "Benford has good size, decent fluidity and came out of his breaks well in the first practice of the week. While the East Roster seems to lack the star power of their Western counterparts, Benford had the most flashy plays could be their one stud."

Tom Melton, who writes an NFL Draft blog, had this to say about the Golden Eagle receiver: "Tim Benford (Tennessee Tech) continued his strong week catching the ball well, creating separation as a route runner, and proving to be a reliable receiver. He had a couple nice routes that created separation downfield but quarterbacks didn't see him open. He should get drafted."

The Shrine game has been around for decades -- this is the 87th edition -- and, most importantly, NFL scouts have been in attendance all week.

Last Sunday all of the players visited the Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa, while Monday's schedule began with player measurements before the East and West teams practiced in the afternoon. Benford was measured at 5-foot-11, 199 pounds.

Benford is one of seven receivers on the East roster. The other six are LaRon Byrd of Miami, B.J. Cunningham of Michigan Stte, Kevin Hardy of The Citadel, Lance Lewis of East Carolina, Thomas Mayo from California (Pa.) and A.J. Jenkins from Illinois.

Quarterbacks for the East squad include John Brantley of Florida, B.J. Coleman from UT Chattanooga, and Austin Davis of Southern Mississippi.