HARRISONBURG, VA - James Madison's redshirt-senior offensive guard Earl Watford (Philadelphia,Pa./Simon Gratz) has been invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida on January 19, 2013. Watford is the first player from JMU to receive an invite to this all-star game and first to play in an all-star game since 2006, as the Colonial Athletic Association will send three players to the game.
A redshirt-senior offensive guard, Watford was the top-rated offensive lineman for the Dukes, starting all 11 games while also serving as a team captain. Watford earned four top team All-America honors from The Walter Camp Foundation, American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press and The Sports Network. Also a First Team All-CAA selection for the second consecutive season, he allowed just one sack on the season while, under extremely stringent linemen grading, grading out 80 percent or higher six times and 90 percent or better twice. Overall, he graded out at 85 percent for the season and had 25 knockdowns while leading an offense that ranked fourth in rushing offense in the CAA at 209.0 yards per game and 4.6 yards per rush. He blocked for Dae'Quan Scott, who ranked third in the CAA in rushing at 86.8 yards per game and earned Second Team All-CAA honors this year. Watford played in 43 games in his career, starting in 37 of them including the last 35 straight.
The East-West Shrine Game benefits the Shriners' Hospitals for Children and is the longest-running all-star college football game since 1925. This prestigious game is a showcase for many of the top collegiate football players, many who will be in the next NFL class. Before the game, players and coaches visit the Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa and participate in games, crafts and activities with the children. The coaches for the game are former NFL coaches who are selected because of their experiences and accomplishments in their careers. Coaching for the East is Jerry Glanville, former Atlanta Falcons Head Coach in the early 90's. Coaching for the West is Leeman Bennett, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1985-86 seasons.