Jim Harris: Little Rock Lands College All-Star Game For Feb. 4

by Jim Harris  on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 1:33 pm  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Texas' loss was Little Rock's gain, it seems. When the Texas vs. the Nation college all-star football game was put on hold for a year — as it moves from San Antonio to Allen, Texas — some of the organizers decided to look elsewhere to stage a national college football all-star game.

Their eyes shifted eastward.

"We liked what Little Rock had to offer, with a nice-sized city and a nice stadium," Justin VanFulpen, one of the men behind the game, said recently. "We knew there was a void [in Little Rock] and we saw an opportunity."

So, on Saturday, Feb. 4, Central Arkansans will have a chance to see some of this year's top college football stars and future NFL players in the Players All-Star Classic at War Memorial Stadium.

The game will follow, in succession, the East-West Shrine Game in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 21 and the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 28.

Yes, the Little Rock game will feature players who weren't invited to one of those showcases. There will still plenty of outstanding players to fill the North and South rosters for the 3 p.m. kickoff in Little Rock.

VanFulpen already expects 150 professional scouts (all of the 32 NFL teams represented along with 40-50 UFL and CFL scouts) in Little Rock that week when the players first arrive on Monday to begin working out. Veteran professional coaches with years of NFL experience, Kurt Schottenheimer and Martin Bayless, will be the coaches of the teams.

Organizers are hoping to add a few Razorbacks and Red Wolves, and maybe some Bears to the rosters so the local fans will have some familiarity with the players, as well as available SEC talent. But they also have sights set on landing some of the top players still available after the Senior Bowl and Shrine rosters are set. Perhaps LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson will be among the players here.

And, perhaps Razorbacks Greg Childs, Jerry Franklin, Jake Bequette and Tramain Thomas might be competing once more on the War Memorial Stadium turf. Senior Hog receiver Jarius Wright has already been selected for the Senior Bowl. ASU receiver Dwayne Frampton and linebacker Demario Davis are possibilities. So is UCA quarterback Nathan Dick, VanFulpen said.

The good news for War Memorial Stadium and Little Rock is that the Players All-Star Classic has committed to playing the game here for three years. The organizers have also signed an agreement with the Little Rock Hilton to use the hotel as its headquarters for the next three years.

Comcast Sports South, Cox Sports and the local KABZ-FM, 103.7 The Buzz have signed on as media partners, with CSS planning to broadcast the game.

Little Rock and the stadium have been looking for another event, such as a college bowl game, to add to the annual offerings. In recent years, Little Rock made a pitch to play host to the Football Championship Subdivision title game, but War Memorial Stadium was deemed "too big" — whoever thought we'd hear that? — for the FCS championship, which eventually was awarded to Frisco, Texas, and its 30,000-seat stadium that's mostly home to soccer and high school football.



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