The North Carolina Shrine Bowl roster includes wide receiver Josh Cabrera (Jacksonville (N.C.) Northside), linebacker Cayson Collins (Charlotte (N.C.) Berry Academy), defensive lineman Robert Dinkins (Charlotte (N.C.) Olympic), running back Elijah Hood (Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic), kicker Freeman Jones (Bunn (N.C.)), and offensive lineman Bentley Spain (Charlotte (N.C.) Providence).
In addition to playing receiver, Cabrera will bring versatility to the roster.
“A playmaker and one that plays several positions,” NC Shrine Bowl head coach Burton Cates said. “He’s played corner, he’s played free safety, he’s played running back, he’s played quarterback, and also a great wide receiver.”
The NC Shrine Bowl coaching staff plans to plug Collins in at inside linebacker within their 50 defense.
“Cayson has been very high on our list… and when we saw him at some of the camps and the combine, it just [confirmed our feelings],” Cates said. “He’s having a great year at Berry Academy. He’s playing inside linebacker, he’s playing outside linebacker. He could play several positions for us, but he’ll start off inside.”
Dinkins will be capable of playing anywhere along NC’s three-man defensive line.
“We’ve seen Robert at several combines and some camps he’s attended in the summer,” Cates said. “[Shrine Bowl assistant] Coach [Phil] Tate really loves him, because he’s one that plays hard. A good looking kid and seems to one that’s going to fit into the mold of what Coach Tate is trying to do with our defensive line. It’s going to be a group that I think is going to move very quickly.”
Derrell Scott and Hood form one of the better running back duos the Shrine Bowl has ever seen.
“Elijah Hood [is a] great running back,” Cates said. “Coach Mark White from West Columbus, he’s in charge of our running backs and Mark had a very tough decision to make, but there were a couple of running backs that were no-brainers that we knew if they were healthy they would be a part of the Shrine Bowl. And Elijah Hood, we’re looking forward to having him. His stats and what they’ve done for Charlotte Catholic speak for themselves. So we’re excited about him.
“We think he could probably play a little inside linebacker for us. Some of our kids during the course of the week because of injuries might be asked to play [the opposite side of the side ball].”
Jones will handle both punter and kicker for the NC squad.
“Freeman has great stats,” Cates said. “He is a punter and a kicker, which in the Shrine Bowl if you can get two positions out of one person you’re ahead of the game. He’s having a tremendous season. We have a couple tremendous kickers in the state of North Carolina [thus] it was really a tough decision, but his stats speak for themselves and that was the reason for his selection.”
At left tackle, Spain will anchor NC's offensive line.
“We’ve seen him at the combines and at camps, and he’s just a tremendous offensive lineman,” Cates said. “He was high on everybody’s list back in February. We knew that Spain would be a selection if he was healthy, because from what we’ve heard from the coaches that played against Providence was outstanding. We’re looking forward to having him on the team.”
The Shrine Bowl will be played on Saturday December 21 at 1pm in Spartanburg, S.C.
South Carolina won last year’s Shrine Bowl, 23-10, and leads the series with a record of 43-29-4.
In addition to the UNC pledges, several Tar Heel targets were selected to the game. Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro (N.C.) Page) and Trevion Thompson (Durham (N.C.) Hillside) were selected to the NC roster.