Emory Hunt, FBGP Analyst
Day 1, Practice 1 of the 2018 Spiral Tropical Bowl took place today in a windy New Smyrna Beach stadium. The teams are broken up into 2 separate squads, American (Red) & National (Blue). From what I personally saw, there were 16 NFL Teams (CLE, TEN, KC, NYJ, MIA, OAK, IND, GB, BUF, HOU, PIT, DET, JAX, TB, DAL, PHI) and 2 CFL Teams (Saskatchewan & Ottawa) in attendance at practice.
The National Team took the practice field first and here’s a few of the notes I gathered from that session:
- Georgia Southern RB Alfred Ramsby plays at a different speed level than everyone else. Ramsby showcase the speed and acceleration that made him a productive player with the Eagles.
- The National Team secondary I thought got the better of the receivers today. North Carolina DB Donnie Miles looked to be the leader of the group getting guys on the same page from a communication standpoint.
- Local Product Jamaal Burgess (Bethune-Cookman) was solid in coverage during 1-on-1 periods.
- So was Middle Tennessee State CB Mike Minter Jr. The 6’0 180lb Minter showed great closing speed on the ball.
- Central Arkansas’ George Odum was a star OLB at UCA, but today he was getting work as a pseudo-Strong Safety and was able to acclimate himself very well in that role. He moves fluid enough to make that switch seamless.
- Linebacker Junior Joseph of UConn and DB Devin Butler of Syracuse were other players who stood out defensively.
- Florida State’s Ermon Lane, who’s played all over for the Seminoles, was putting in work as a corner and as a safety today. Got to give him credit for working outside of his comfort zone in this type of setting. Excited to see him compete in the game.
- Offensively, the star of the day was WR Teo Redding of Bowling Green. Redding made a few spectacular catches in 1-on-1 period. He showed the ability to track the ball and ‘slow it down with his eyes’ to make an off-balanced catch.
- I thought Georgia State’s DE Mackendy Cheridor (6’5 270) had a strong day in OL vs DL drills.
The American Team didn’t have the benefit of ‘perfect’ weather per se. It was still very windy and a light rain showed up also. However, that didn’t stop the pads from poppin’ and didn’t stop guys from making plays.
Here’s a few notes from the 2nd practice:
- TCU WR Taj Wiliams was strong in individual periods and also in 1-on-1s. His footwork and release off the LOS was both good and consistent. He looks calm and comfortable in his process.
- RB JJ Green (Georgia Tech) is an explosive player coming out of the backfield. He’s going to be a legit weapon in the passing game.
- I thought QB Richard Lagow threw the ball well today, especially in 1-on-1s.
- I really like how Tennessee CB Shaq Wiggins competes. His eyes, hips and feet are always in unison.
- TE Tanner Hudson of Southern Arkansas stands out as one of better TEs in this game. He has smooth, all-around game.
- DT Dee Liner (Arkansas State), DT Teko Powell (UAB) and DT Joshua Frazier (Alabama) were excellent today. All three showcased a good combination of strength and quickness off the ball to defeat the OL in pass rush drills.
- Eastern Michigan’s DT Derrick Dunlap made a few plays in team period.
- Linebacker Deion Pierre (Samford) is a terrific front seven player; he also more than held his own in 1-on-1s.
- Georgia Tech’s KeShun Freeman was extremely quick off the ball and showed a vicious spin move as a part of his pass rushing arsenal.
- Cal Poly Center Joseph Kuperman was flat out dominant today in 1-on-1s. I can’t recall him getting beat often IF at all.
- I like what I saw in the secondary from UTSA’s Nate Gaines and Louisville’s Malik Williams. Both guys show good instincts and range.
- Austin Olsen out of Southern Illinois is built like a pro offensive lineman…and definitely played like one today.
- WR Allenzae Staggers has a great feel for playing the position. He was able to use his body to shield the defender from the ball multiple times today. It was the type of nuance you’d expect to see from someone who’s played a lot of football.
- Benedict College’s Okechi Ntiasagwe caught the football extremely well today. Perfect in his technique and showed strong hands to secure the ball.
Here’s a look at some of the video clips from today!