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Courtesy: UNDsports.com
Former Fighting Hawks Cole Reyes will suit for the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday, which will be televised at 2 p.m. CT on the NFL Network.
Reyes relishes shot in East-West Shrine Game
Courtesy: UNDsports.com
Release: 01/19/2018
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Cole Reyes' week down in Tampa began with a memorable trip to the Shriners Hospital for Children to visit with some kiddos battling far tougher issues than he could imagine.

It quickly put in perspective the trials and tribulations he faced during his injury-shortened senior season for a North Dakota football team that was picked to repeat as Big Sky Champions. "We got to interact with the kids there at the children's hospital and I left feeling like it made my day more than theirs," Reyes said. "It was very eye-opening and the best experience of the whole thing."

The "whole thing" Reyes is referring to has been the week-long job interview he has undergone with the hopes of landing a professional football contract. That all culminates with Saturday's 93rd-annual East-West Shrine Game (Kickoff at 2 p.m. CT on NFL Network).

The work won't end on Saturday, but being a part of the West roster has given the Schaumburg, Ill., native one more opportunity to
showcase his skills in live game action and prove to himself that he can hold his own against players from bigger programs.

"That's been the biggest challenge (this week)," Reyes said. "Just proving to myself that I'm capable of playing at this level. I had to
lock in each practice and be the same guy every day."

After Sunday's visit to the hospital, it's been all business for the former Fighting Hawk safety. He's participated in five full days of meetings, practices and evening interviews with nearly all 30 NFL teams.

"A typical day is waking up at 8 a.m. for breakfast and meetings. Then, we'll eat lunch and head to practice," Reyes said. "When we get
back to the hotel, we eat dinner and meet with NFL teams. It's been a lot of fun."

The 2017 Preseason Big Sky Player of the Year became a bigger blip on the radar of professional scouts following a memorable 2016 season. He was named the Big Sky Player of the Year and an All-American by four different organizations after leading the Fighting Hawks to their first Big Sky Championship and FCS Playoff appearance.

Those efforts, which included more than 200 career tackles at UND, brought more NFL scouts to Memorial Stadium than usual as representatives from dozens of teams attended fall camp and came through again early in the season to check out the 6-foo-2, 215-pounder before he was hurt on Sept. 29 in the league opener against Montana State.

It has been nearly three-and-half months since he last played in a football game, but Reyes has been rehabbing extremely hard during that time and said the arm is feeling good after a week's worth of practices. He'll get to suit up in his Fighting Hawk helmet one more time alongside fellow collegiate all-stars before continuing to prepare to hear his named called in April's NFL Draft.

"My time here has given me a lot of confidence and shown me that the level of college you played at means nothing this week," Reyes said.

The former UND captain is one of 16 Football Championship Subdivision players proving that in the Sunshine State.

-- UND --

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