The Low-Down on the Invitation Processes for the Big 3 College All-Star Games


The college football season is upon on (just about), which means this is the last go-round for a lot of seniors.  Other than winning the BCS championship, most seniors dream of playing in one of the big 3 all star games.  Trust me, nothing’s like the excitement of getting one of  those Senior Bowl Invites.

I mean, at least that’s what I hear.  Never got one myself.

The harsh reality is that only 100 guys get invited to the Senior Bowl.  The awesome truth, though, is that there’s three major NCAA all-star games, and not just one. Still, that’s only 3 opportunities, so if you want to play in one, shouldn’t you know what goes into getting selected?

ILB Kelvin Sheppard out of LSU was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. (ICON Sports Media)

While there’s little you can do other than play well (sorry), knowing what goes into the selection process for these games could mean the difference between you getting selected and watching the game on tv like everybody else.

Now everybody wants to go to the Senior Bowl, and for good reason. About 85% of the  players that play in it get drafted, and almost all of them end up in an NFL camp.

Unfortunately, only 100 guys can participate (there’s two 50-player rosters), so roster spots are limited.

Before you hire your agent, you may want to make sure they’re willing to foot the bill for your travel to an all star game in the event that you get a last minute opportunity to participate in one.


Let’s take a quick look at the selection processes for the big 3 college all star games.

Senior Bowl –  Senior Bowl invites only go out to the cream of the crop.  Steve Hale, President and CEO of the Senior Bowl makes the decision on who gets invited, along with a group of NFL scouts and executives.  Invites are sent out to players as the college football season moves-along.  The first batch usually go out around mid-to-late October.

Click here to check out a 2009 interview  with Steve Hale via Mike Herndon from

The East-West Shrine Game – The Shrine Game plays second-fiddle to the Senior Bowl.  They Shrine Game shoots-out their “watch list” notices to players late summer or early fall.

WARNING: Getting a “watch list” notice does not mean you’re officially invited. But if you don’t get one, you can give up hopes of playing in it, because they only invite players that they sent “watch list” notices to.

The Shrine game sends out it’s watch list notices to all of the top players in the nation, which creates a little problem.  You see, every year, players with Shrine Game invites keep their Shrine Game invite as a fall-back plan, and ditch the Shrine Game invite the moment they get their Senior Bowl invites.

This creates last minute holes in the Shrine Game’s roster.  If you  got a watch list notice but didn’t end up getting  an invite, your agent needs to stay in contact with the Shrine Game’s personnel people, so you can be easily reached if a spot comes available.

Quite often, the backup players they choose to fill the holes aren’t always the best players available.   Sometimes, it’s just a matter of which backup players they were able to get in contact with the fastest.

Click here to view the contact information for the Shrine Game Executive Staff

NFLPA Game (formerly known as Texas vs. The Nation).  This game is the least-popular and desired of the Big 3.  The highest draft pick to ever play in the game was picked up in the 3rd round , but it’s definitely better than going to no all star game at all.

The good thing about this game is that they have two 60-man rosters, so more players can participate.  To participate, you have to first be nominated.  Anyone can nominate you right from the game’s website.  They can also nominate you by calling 214.302.8100, and hitting option #2.  Submissions are reviewed by John Murphy, the game’s Player Personnel Consultant.

If you aren’t nominated, but you’re good enough to participate, don’t worry.  NFL scouts that want a closer look at you will nominate you themselves.  Invites for the game start going out in October.

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