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Casino Del Sol All-Star Game: Ten players to watch

Rodney Stewart is hoping to stand tall at the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game. Photo by Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Former Toledo defensive back Desmond Marrow, along with his buddy — ex-Iowa receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos — have a business built around a slogan.

Make Plays or Die.


They have a website to sell merchandise, but Marrow is hoping that will stay as Plan B for a while as he pursues a professional career. He has been in Tucson, working out in front of scouts and preparing for Monday night’s Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game at Kino Stadium (6 p.m.)

Marrow, who is from Mike Stoops’ old stomping grounds at Cardinal Mooney High in Youngstown, Ohio, is like most prospects in this game. The 90 players here had very good college careers — Marrow broke up 18 passes this season and earned first-team All-MAC honors — but most are on the fringes of the NFL Draft.

For them, this opportunity, in terms of their NFL dreams, really does come down to Make Plays or Die.

The teams will be split into the Stars (East) and the Stripes (West). You can find the rosters here and just keeping scrolling for our picks for 10 players to watch:

RB Rodney Stewart, Colorado – Slippery-quick, as Arizona fans are well aware, he’s trying to overcome the too-short, too-small stigma. “I hear that a lot,” he said. “That’s not something I’m thinking about right now.” Stewart (5-6, 175) rushed for 3,598 yards in his CU career — 181 of which came in a victory over the Wildcats last season. He rated that the third-best highlight of his career, following a 166-yard performance against West Virginia as a freshman and a 149-yard day in a win over Georgia in 2010.

QB G.J. Kinne, Tulsa – Was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college over the past three seasons, throwing for 9,472 yards and 81 touchdowns. Wrote the National Football Post in its evaluation of Kinne: “Kinne has a little Jeff Garcia/Bruce Gradkowski to his game. He will fall on draft day because of his size, but is your typical gritty QB prospect who is the son of a coach and in my view will find a way to make a roster and potentially fight for playing time down the line.”

S Robert Golden, Arizona – He versatility as a cornerback and safety could be intriguing as a possibility in the late rounds of the NFL Draft. Golden, who was third on the Wildcats last season with 69 tackles, has been training in the Phoenix area, where is finding that UA’s win over ASU pays dividends. “It gives me a lot of pride to wear my UA gear out there in Tempe,” he said.

QB Jarrett Lee, LSU – He’ll be more than just warm up on the sidelines Monday night, a week after Tigers coach Les Miles never called upon to rescue a quarterback Jordan Jefferson and a stalled LSU offense in the national title game vs. Alabama. Lee, who started the first nine games of the season, is trying to turn into the next Matt Flynn, who was a seventh-round pick out of LSU before emerging now as a coveted free-agent in the NFL.

DE Wayne Dorsey, Mississippi – Physically gifted as a 6-6, 270-pound end. He had five tackles for loss, including three sacks, as a senior before a broken arm ended his season after six games.

LB Carmen Messina, New Mexico – This guy was a tackling machine for the Lobos with 354 career stops. Messina led the national in tackles in 2009 with 13.5 per game. Of course, New Mexico has been truly awful, so perhaps Messina was making all those tackles because nobody else could.

LB Colin Parker, Arizona State – This guy was the Sun Devils’ best linebacker in 2011, not the flamboyant, volatile and lousy teammate Vontaze Burfict. Parker led ASU with 75 tackles and forced four fumbles.

LB Aaron Tevis, Boise State – The CDO grad will have his own cheering section at Kino Stadium. His old high school coach, Pat Nugent (who is part of the coaching staff for the all-star game), helped get Tevis this shot in front of scouts. He had 173 tackles and seven interceptions in the past four seasons, when Boise State lost a mere three games. He’s hoping to get a late-round shot.

S Drew Astorino, Penn State – Size is going to be an issue for scouts — he was listed at 5-10, 207 by Penn State — but he was a three-year starter and a defensive leader for the Nittany Lions. Played through shoulder problems in 2009 and 2010 before turning in an honorable-mention All-Big Ten performance this season, when he made 86 tackles.

RB Lance Dunbar, North Texas – Small but powerful, Dunbar was a workhorse for North Texas, rushing for a school-record 4,224 yards and adding 1,033 in receptions. His biggest game came against Kansas State to end the 2010 season — 270 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

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