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IJ, Brandstater share backfield, criticism in Shrine game

Ian Johnson will have one last chance to tuck his head on a patented burst down the sideline. Or hold onto the back of a pulling guard for a two-yard gain.

Johnson will be taking part in Saturday's East-West Shrine Game (2:00pm, ESPN2), along with medium-talented seniors from schools nationwide. It should come as no surprise then that Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater is involved.

But in a horrible collusion of overratedness and overachievement, Brandstater and Johnson will be sharing the same backfield six days from now. It's like a Karl Benson dream come true. The highly-touted Bulldog QB will be handing off to the WAC's career TD record holder. Johnson will be fielding errant screen passes from Touchdown Tommy. And the two WAC superstars (note: preseason superstar and regular season superstar) will get to bask in the limelight of careers spent winning and not winning WAC championships.

It will be like Grumpy Old Men, except minus the chemistry of Matthau and Lemmon.

What else it will be is a chance for both players to prove some critics wrong. Though several players from the East-West Shrine Game have gone on to experience NFL success, certain experts have their doubts about the prospects of Johnson and Brandstater.

Ian Johnson: Boise State (6-0, 196) Projection: 7th Round

An instinctive runner with good lateral mobility and body control. Lacks a second gear and doesn’t showcase any kind of explosion to his game.

Tom Brandstater: Fresno State (6-5, 225) Projection: 6th Round

Showcases the prototypical build for the quarterback position with good arm strength and touch down the field. A lacking athlete that didn’t have the type of year many expected.
"Lacking" athletes and players "without a second gear" - yep, it's officially a college all-star game.

Read more:
East-West shrine game prospects [National Football Post] | Shrine game rosters [Shrine Game]