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Even without Luck, plenty of QBs at Shrine game

When Stanford's Andrew Luck decided to pass on entering the NFL draft to return to school for his senior season, NFL teams in need of a quarterback all let out a collective groan.

Without Luck, the pool of potential first-round draft picks in the 2011 quarterback class lost its most-coveted prize.

But heading into today's East-West Shrine Game (4 p.m., NFL Network), the first major college football all-star game of draft season, several signal callers will be trying to prove their class isn't as top heavy as some think.

"Life is about opportunities, and all you can really do is ask for one," said former Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, representing the West. "A lot of us out here are just looking for that one opportunity to show who we are."

Quarterbacks projected to go in the first round include underclassmen Blaine Gabbert of Missouri and reining Heisman Trophy-winner Cam Newton of Auburn, and Jake Locker of Washington.

Most of the more than 200 NFL scouts and team officials who attended practices this week in Orlando are expecting to identify most of their potential early-round picks at next week's Senior Bowl in Alabama.

But there are some quarterbacks in town this week who could go in the middle rounds. Of that list, Delaware's Pat Devlin has easily commanded the most attention. A 6-foot-4, 220-pound transfer from Penn State, he has drawn comparisons to former Blue Hen standout Joe Flacco.

Flacco shined for two years in the Football Championship Subdivision before being drafted by Baltimore in 2008.

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*Washington has rewarded coach Steve Sarkisian with a new five-year contract after he led the team to its first bowl game since 2002.

*A Texas appeals court threw out former coach Mike Leach's breach of contract claim against Texas Tech, though it said he could still pursue non-monetary claims against the school over his firing.

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