SIU alumni show off for NFL scouts

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

Former Saluki tight end MyCole Pruitt and running back Malcolm Agnew played in separate crucial games on opposite sides of the country Saturday.

Pruitt played in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field in Saint Petersburg, Fla. while, Agnew played in the National Football League Player’s Association Collegiate Bowl at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

Agnew started the game for the National team and rushed for 29 yards on 4 carries including a 13-yard first down run during the first possession of the game.

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“It was a chance to show that I can play at the next level,” Agnew said.

Throughout the week, Agnew said he was able to interact with current and former NFL players.

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Eric Winston told Agnew to take advantage of every opportunity.

“He told me to focus each and every time I’m on the field,” Agnew said. “People are always gunning for your job.”

Former NFL running back Priest Holmes was Agnew’s coach for the week.

“He taught me a lot about the game and helped me to be more patient as a player,” Agnew said. “That’s something I struggle with sometimes but he taught me the fine details in each and every run this week.”

Former St. Louis Rams head coach and NFL assistant Mike Martz were impressed with Agnew’s performance throughout the week and named Agnew one of four captains for the National team.

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 6.23.49 PMESPN analyst Todd McShay said he was impressed with Agnew’s play throughout the game as well.

“Malcolm Agnew has a little bit more pop, a little bit more juice than these other backs,” he said.

Agnew finished the game with 53 yards on 8 carries to help the National team win 17-0.

Agnew said he is not focused on his NFL Draft stock.

“I wasn’t worried about where I would go in the draft or if I would get drafted,” he said. “I just wanted to open some teams’ eyes and let them know that this Malcolm Agnew kid can play.”

Pruitt often found himself on the field but was never thrown to.

“[Players] were a little bigger than some of the guys I was used to going against,” Pruitt said. “To be able to get that experience prior to the NFL was a good thing for me.”

Dane Brugler, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, wrote in a CBS Sports article that Pruitt is a hybrid tight end prospect and still has to work on the basics.

“[Pruitt] needs to refine his route-running and play more controlled, but has starter potential down the road with some seasoning,” Brugler wrote.

Pruitt said he improved his draft stock by making plays in practices before the game.

“I made a number of plays and there were a lot of people out there noticing and they told me that when we were able to meet up after the practices,” he said. “That’s what the scouts wanted to see.”

According to Jeff Risdon, a writer for realgm.com, Pruitt stood out in pass protection drills, but is not a great target as a receiver.

“He’s very good at striking between steps to catch rushers off balance, and he moves his feet quickly,” Risdon wrote. “He makes catches on decent throws but is not the kind of receiver who will bail out a [quarterback] on a bad throw.”

Pruitt will practice and prepare in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. until he participates in the NFL Scouting Combine on Feb. 17 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

“I’m taking it one day at a time,” Pruitt said. “It’s a grind and it’s not going to be easy but I’m preparing myself mentally and physically.”

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269

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