By ERIC TABER | Photos by MARK MESENKO | Video Courtesy of UM Sports Information
Montana’s second all-time leader in sacks and tackles for loss, Tyrone Holmes, has accepted an invitation to play in the 91st East – West Shrine Game, one of the nation’s marquee all-star postseason invitational events.
The East – West Shrine Game is the oldest college all-star event in the country, dating back to its founding in 1925. The game supports the Shriners Hospitals for Children in its mission to help children in need receive medical care.
This year’s game is scheduled for January 23, 2016 at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida, with a scheduled 2 p.m. kickoff (MT). Fans can tune in to watch live on the NFL Network.
Holmes is the tenth Grizzly of all time to participate in the East – West Shrine Game, with “Wild Bill” Kelly attending the second event of all time in 1926, followed by Tom Davis (1928), Milt Popovich (1938), Eso Naranche (1942), Terry Dillon (1962), Brian Salonen (1983), Scott Gragg (1994), Chase Raynock (1999) and Danny Kistler rounding out the list in 2013.
More than 90 players from last year’s game signed with professional teams in the 2015 draft, and more than 70 made final NFL rosters. On average, more than 265 East-West Shrine Game alumni are on NFL rosters each year, according to the organization’s website.
Since the game’s inception, 72 former players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and more than 200 have been named to the College Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s a huge honor to be invited to play in a game like this,” said Holmes. “I’m excited for the opportunity to compete against some of the best players in the country, but I’m even more excited to continue my senior season here at Montana.”
Holmes leads all of FCS and FBS football in sacks this season with 17. His nearest competitor at the FBS level hails from Penn State, and has collected 15.5 sacks this season.
Holmes is currently 10th in the FCS in tackles for loss, with a total of 20.5. The national leader at the FBS level (from Clemson) has also collected 20.5 TFLs to date.
Holmes is currently ranked No. 2 in Montana’s record books in all-time sacks and tackles for loss. He needs 4.5 more sacks to pass Zack Wagenmann and become Montana’s leading pass rusher of all time.
Not only is the game considered one of the top ways for a player to earn a place in the NFL Draft, but a way give back to the community with players and coaches visiting fans at the local Shriners Hospital.
NFL legends such as Gale Sayers, Tom Brady, John Elway, Allan Page, Dick Butkus, Brett Favre, Gino Marchetti and Walter Payton, along with coaches Don Shula, Dick Vermeil, Paul “Bear” Bryant and Jerry Glanville, have all taken part in past East – West Shrine Games.