Hundreds of football players hope to hear their name called in fewer than three months, fulfilling their dreams when the 2023 NFL draft begins in Kansas City, Missouri, in late April. Prior to then, athletes will do their best to show out at the NFL combine, their school's pro day and during interviews and visits with prospective teams.
That process started this week, with practices for the two college showcase games: the East-West Shrine Bowl on Thursday in Las Vegas (8:30 p.m., NFL Network) and the Senior Bowl on Saturday in Mobile, Alabama (2:30 p.m., NFL Network).
The two games will showcase several Michigan players, getting reps in front of NFL scouts to help improve their draft stock.
Here are the former Wolverines who are participating:
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East-West Shrine Bowl
∎ Tight end Luke Schoonmaker is in attendance and measured 6 feet 5, 249 pounds. He is not practicing because of a sprained AC joint suffered in December's College Football Playoff loss to TCU.
Reports state he hopes to be ready to participate for the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis in four weeks.
Schoonmaker caught 35 passes for 418 yards (11.9 yards per catch) and three touchdowns in 2022, and despite being known as an above-average blocker, was identified by Pro Football Network as the top player in Vegas at his position.
"A lesser-known receiving threat, Schoonmaker made his name known early on at Michigan with his blocking skills," Pro Football Network's Cam Mellor wrote. "However, over the past two seasons, he's hauled in six receiving touchdowns and capped his career with personal bests in every major receiving category.
"Schoonmaker is a physical blocker with safe hands, something that will come in handy over the middle of the field."
∎ The best kicker in program history, Northville native Jake Moody, is on the West team. He measured 6-1 and 207 pounds and is widely regarded as the top kicking prospect.
The 2021 Lou Groza Award Winner and 2022 finalist, Moody this season set the single-season program record for field goals in a game (six) and season (29), extra points (60), points scored (147) and 40-plus yard field goals (10). After five seasons, he has the program's career record for points (355), field goals (69), 40-plus yard field goals (17), tied for most 50-plus yarders (four) and PAT percentage (100%).
∎ Wide receiver Ronnie Bell caught 62 passes for 889 yards and four touchdowns for the Wolverines in 2022, which included 135 yards and a score in the Fiesta Bowl. The Kansas City native measured 5-11¼, 192 with 9½-inch hands, 31⅛-inch arms and a 75-inch wingspan.
His Senior Bowl practices weren't perfect, but one video did make the rounds after Bell cooked former Ohio State defensive back Ronnie Hickman one-on-one. Bell received some lofty comparisons on the NFL Network's broadcast of Tuesday's practice.
"He's a tough, competitive dude," analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "You see it in the run game, you see it when he gets the ball in his hands, you see it when he's fighting for the ball up in the air.
"He gave me a little bit of Amon-Ra St. Brown vibe when I watched him. ... That young man is a Pro Bowler now."
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∎ The first of two offensive linemen representing Michigan is senior Ryan Hayes, who measured with good size at 6-6⅝, 305, with 10-inch hands, 32¾-inch arms and a 79½-inch wingspan. Hayes, a two-time second-team All-Big Ten player, was the left tackle on Michigan's Joe Moore Award winning offensive line each of the past two years.
One video went viral of Notre Dame edge Isaiah Foskey bull-rushing Hayes and throwing him to the ground, while others show him winning a few one-on-one reps. He repped almost entirely at right guard.
∎ He's joined by Olusegun Oluwatimi, who won the 2022 Outland Award (best interior lineman) and Rimington Award (best center). The grad transfer from Virginia, who was named a consensus All-American and first-team All-Big Ten, measured 6-2⅝, 308, with 8⅝ inch hands, 33-inch arms and an 80-inch wingspan.
"Scouts I've talked to say he has off-the-charts intangibles," NFL Network's Tom Pelissero said.
Oluwatimi turned heads in a positive way in the running game, as he often did at Michigan, but struggled in pass protection, both with overcommitting at the point of attack, and holding his ground when engaged. He has been projected as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 selection.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 5 Michigan football players in East-West Shrine Bowl, Senior Bowl