MOBILE, Ala. — Jalen Hurts and Shea Patterson started their collegiate careers in the Southeastern Conference before winding up at other Power Five programs, Justin Herbert passed for 10,000-plus yards for another Power Five school and Jordan Love became a highly rated prospect without playing for one.
The Senior Bowl quarterbacks followed different paths to potential NFL careers, but they started this week on a more even playing field ahead of Saturday's showcase game. All of them had to get familiar with new receivers and new, albeit vanilla, offenses.
They had three practices and now the high-profile exhibition to separate themselves before the combine and private team visits.
"I'm just taking the opportunity to prove myself any way I can out here, competing with the best athletes in the country," said Patterson, who started his career at Ole Miss before transferring to Michigan. "I'm loving it."
Saturday's game is at 2:30 p.m. EST and will be televised by the NFL Network.
Patterson, Love (Utah State) and Anthony Gordon (Washington State) will be quarterbacks for the North. Herbert (Oregon), who could be the highest pick from either roster, leads the South along with Hurts — who played his final season at Oklahoma after starring then losing his starting job at Alabama — and Steven Montez (Colorado).
"All three guys have come out and they've competed well," said Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia, who is heading up the North squad. "Certainly it's most difficult on the quarterback. I think that's a guy that's got to learn all the verbiage, all the vernacular, know what everybody's doing on offense and then try to get everybody lined up and ready to go.
"I think these guys have handled it really well."
Hurts was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in his lone season with the Sooners and helped them reach the College Football Playoff after Alabama reached the national title game each of his three seasons with the Crimson Tide.
None were more prolific passers in their careers than Herbert, who finished with 10,541 yards and 95 touchdown tosses.
Love is also regarded as a potential first-round pick. He threw 20 touchdown passes last season but was intercepted 17 times, something he's going to have to clean up for the NFL.
"Poor decisions by me trying to force the ball down the field too much and trying to do too much in certain situations," Love said. "Every interception for me, that's a learning moment. Obviously I had 17 learning moments last season."
Gordon, who ranked second nationally with 5,579 passing yards and 48 touchdown passes, is the third straight quarterback from Washington State to go to the Senior Bowl. Gardner Minshew started 12 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie this past NFL season, and Luke Falk played in the game two years ago.
Hurts, who is from Texas, remains a popular figure in the state where he went 26-2 as Alabama's starter with a pair of playoff berths. That was especially evident on one elevator ride.
"I get on the elevator, and one of the workers at the hotel we're staying at, she let me have it in terms of just screaming, 'Jalen Hurts is really on my elevator,'" he said. "That's special to me. I know it won't be like that forever, but I'm just soaking it up."
Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor and his staff are in charge of the South squad. The Bengals have the No. 1 pick, with Heisman-winning LSU quarterback Joe Burrow the odds-on favorite. Patricia's Lions pick third and seem likely to go with an underclassman who, like Burrow, isn't participating in the Senior Bowl.
The coaching gig still gives them a chance to get more one-on-one situations with potential later picks in practice, meetings and game situations.