COLLEGE NEWS

FBGP’s 2020 College Gridiron Showcase Coverage: Marshals Group

The 2020 edition of the College Gridiron Showcase got underway on Saturday, kicking off the 2020 NFL Draft scouting all-star game circuit. What makes CGS a unique event, is that it is broken up into 3 different groups: Wranglers, Desperados and Marshals. The latter is mainly your small college group, who are given a chance to play into the aforementioned two groups. So, on Saturday and Sunday over 100 prospects competed in a practice on Day 1, and a scrimmage on Day 2.

We took a look at what to expect here this week in Fort Worth with our 2020 CGS Preview

Here are some of the highlights and takeaways from the 1st two days worth of practices

Marshals Group Standouts

DE Marques Ford – 6’2 248, Bethune Cookman: Ford was excellent throughout both days here, as he was disruptive in both 9-on-7 drills and in the scrimmage. He is one of the 14 players who earned a call-up to the Wranglers/Desperados group.

OT Jake Marotti – 6’6 290, Lafayette: During the OL/DL 1-on-1 period, I thought Marotti had a solid performance. I liked how his technique was able to stay consistent each time.

OT Jaylen Flye – 6’6 329, Lindenwood: Flye had himself a day in OL/DL 1-on-1. Tremendous punch, even was able to put a guy on the ground during one rep.

OL Zach Sammartino – 6’3 319, Dartmouth: Sammartino looks to be more of a guard than a tackle, even working on some snaps at Center to further add to his repertoire.

QB Jacob Park – 6’3 232, Missouri Southern State: The football just fires off of the hand of Park, who had the strongest arm out of the QB group. He was able to put the ball in very tight windows at all levels of the field. 7-on-7 is where he was able to shine.

QB David Tammaro – 6’1 210, Johns Hopkins: I thought Tammaro was able to quickly develop the timing with the receivers, which is very tough to do at an all star game. His placement on his passes were also consistent, giving his receivers a great chance to make a catch.

Other Players who Stood Out with their Play

RB Domenic Cozier – 5’8 181, Holy Cross
RB Jaquan Hemphill – 5’9 179, Hardin-Simmons
QB Donovan Isom – 6’3 250, Texas Wesleyan
QB Connor Kaegi – 6’7 221, Ottawa University
FB Case Robinson – 6’1 251, Lamar
TE Shawn Clark – 6’7 230, Monmouth
WR Joseph Gause – 6’2 220, IUP
WR Richard McCauley – 5’10 190, Kansas Wesleyan
WR Daylon Person – 5’10 176, Langston
WR Kentrez Bell – 6’2 173, NW Oklahoma State
CB Arthur Sherman – 5’10 178, Friends
LB Chris Hoad – 5’11 229, UT-Permian Basin
LB Nickolas Pridgeon – 6’3 234, Winona State
LB/S Jamal Ware – 5’11 199, Maryville College
DL Nick Wheeler – 6’2 255, Colgate
DL Tomas Wright – 6’1 238, Bryant
S Jarey Elder – 5’9 193, West Chester
S Artevius Smith – 5’9 179, East Tennessee State

Day 1 Practice Highlights: OL/DL 1-on-1

Day 1 Practice Highlights: WR/DB 1-on-1

Day 1 Practice Highlights: TE/RB vs LB 1-on-1

Day 2 Marshals Scrimmage

Florida A&M Watching the Celebration Bowl Closely

Rattlers Looking to Strengthen Claim of 2019 HBCU National Champions
Gene Clemons, FBGP Analyst

For the past four seasons, the HBCU National Champion has been decided at the Celebration Bowl, where the best from the SWAC, matches up against the MEAC’s finest. However, when Alcorn State kicks off versus North Carolina A&T this Saturday at Noon EST on ABC, they may be doing so dealing with the reality that the best HBCU team is not present.

Over the past two seasons, Florida A&M’s 12 conference wins is on par with both A&T and Alcorn. This year, they have widely been recognized as the best D1 HBCU team in the country, but they still are not in Atlanta. That is because they self-imposed a ban for infractions that occurred at the university before most of the athletes on the team was even there. As a result, their 7-1 conference record this season does not yield a recognized championship. Instead they have to watch that title go to the Aggies between the Aggies. The Rattlers also have to watch their Celebration Bowl birth be claimed by a team they defeated 34-31 in overtime.

But do they have a legitimate argument to be named HBCU National Champs? Let’s take a look.

FAMU lost to a better team than both Alcorn or A&T. Bethune-Cookman was one of the better teams in their conference this season, though the same can not be said about Grambling and Morgan State. Grambling had a down year by their standards and Morgan State only won three games all season. While A&T has the highest scoring average of the three (35.7) Alcorn and FAMU are right behind them (32.8, 32.7 respectively).

If the Braves are finally able to defeat the Aggies, then there will be a collective cheer for Alcorn State finally overcoming, and winning their first HBCU National Championship since this new format was implemented. However, if they fall again to A&T, there will be a conversation, especially from Tallahassee, that FAMU is in fact the best HBCU in all of the land because they hold the only head-to-head victory of the three schools.

So while you are watching the 5th installment of the Celebration Bowl, keep in mind that the results may have implications beyond the two teams on the field.

And if you’re Bowie State…then, well, that’s an entirely different conversation all together!

Questions? Comments?

Twitter: @geneclemons
Email: gclemons@footballgameplan.com

SWAC and MEAC Teams Gearing Up for Celebration Bowl Run

Celebration Bowl May Soon Enjoy Parity
Gene Clemons, FBGP Analyst

As the North Carolina A&T Aggies prepare to participate in their fourth Celebration Bowl, and Alcorn State Braves get ready for their third, the rumblings around the HBCU landscape is that there is no parody with regards to the HBCU football elite, at least at the FCS level. However, this assessment would be wrong and is strictly based off looking at the current participants, and not into the individual conferences.

There are other teams coming and the question could quickly become, “Is this enough?”

Yes, while A&T has represented the MEAC in four of the five Celebration Bowls, it could have easily been a different team.

In 2015, the conference title was split between the Aggies, Bethune-Cookman, and North Carolina Central. A&T won the tiebreaker that allowed them to represent the MEAC. After a one-year hiatus, thanks to NC Central, the Aggies were back, bringing an undefeated record with them heading into the bowl game. In 2018, it took a win over NC Central, and a Florida A&M loss to Bethune-Cookman in the annual Florida Classic, to get A&T back to Atlanta for a second consecutive year.

This season, the only reason the Aggies are representing the MEAC in the Celebration Bowl, is because FAMU, who has the best record of any D1 HBCU, is on a self-imposed, one-year postseason ban. So, as a result, A&T won the conference title because of their 22-20 victory over South Carolina State. And to the larger point, had the Bulldogs been able to pull of that victory, they would’ve have represented the MEAC in Atlanta this weekend!

Although this is the third appearance for Alcorn State, the road to Atlanta has never been easy for the Braves. Fellow SWAC frontrunner Grambling, has been the conference representative twice. Last season, the Braves barely squeezed by a Southern team that was hungry to make their first Celebration Bowl appearance.

What has been impressive for both the Braves and Aggies during this era of the Celebration Bowl, is that they’ve done it with two separate Head Coaches. Jay Hopson led Alcorn State to the inaugural game back in 2015, and after he left for the Southern Miss job, Alcorn alum Fred McNair took over, bringing his squad to two bowl games. While in Greensboro, legendary head coach Rod Broadway took the Aggies to the inaugural game, and led them to the 2017 game as well; which was his last as a collegiate coach, retiring afterwards. Current Aggies head coach Sam Washington took over an experienced squad in 2018, leading them to the Celebration Bowl, defeating Alcorn and is hoping to repeat the same feat on Saturday.

Contrary to popular belief, the MEAC and SWAC have always been highly competitive conferences. And while there has been a little luck involved with A&T and Alcorn’s consistent presence in the Celebration Bowl, others challengers are coming.

The MEAC is a grinder. There are legitimately 4-5 teams that can win the conference every season. FAMU has no intentions of going backwards with Head Coach Willie Simmons leading the way. South Carolina State, with legendary Head Coach Buddy Pough, was just knocking on the door this season. And Head Coach Terry Sims at Bethune-Cookman is always hovering, proving to be a constant nuisance to both A&T and Florida A&M. North Carolina Central knows what it takes to get there, having played in the game 3 years ago and 2nd year Head Coach Trei Oliver had an impressive 1st season at his alma mater. Norfolk State Head Coach Latrell Scott has quietly developed a solid program, and his Spartans took both FAMU & South Carolina State to the brink this season. Also, don’t sleep on the Morgan State Bears, who are a sleeping giant in the conference, with Tyrone Wheatley at the helm, building a bully in Baltimore; And Delaware State is in good hands under Head Coach Rod Milstead, who has done fantastic work on the recruiting front for the Hornets.

The SWAC has definitely been wide open and now with Southern, under Head Coach Dawson Odums, and Prairie View A&M, with Head Coach Eric Dooley, joining Broderick Fobbs and Grambling as legitimate contenders in the West Division, as well as Alabama A&M, who has the Top QB in the SWAC, Aqeel Glass, who is also an NFL Prospect, returning next season. Quietly, Jackson State, along with Alabama State, continues to get better in the East Division and played with a lot of youthful talent in 2019, will make getting to Atlanta in 2020 a daunting task for Alcorn St.

There is no doubt that the Celebration Bowl has resulted in improved competition in both conferences. The additional national exposure gives FCS HBCU teams ammunition to use in the recruiting wars. That has allowed these teams to be more visible to recruits, and is going to continue to raise the profile and talent level of these teams.

So if you are tired of seeing North Carolina A&T and Alcorn State in this bowl game, then you might want to simply enjoy it this year, because there’s a good chance you won’t see these two again in 2020.

Questions? Comments?

Twitter: @geneclemons

Email: gclemons@footballgameplan.com

CFB Playoff Picture Already Taking Shape

FBS Playoff Picture Looks Crystal Clear
Gene Clemons

Recently on September 20th, fellow Football Gameplan colleague Chris James tweeted, “Sorry college football fans, if your team isn’t Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma or OSU… you have a 0% chance to win the title!”

It is a statement that can be disputed but can’t be taken lightly. A quarter of the way through the season, 6 teams seem poised to make a run at the title and five of them are on James list. An with respect to all other teams, the drop off to the next tier is not slight.

Unless Something Crazy Happens!

You can pencil in Clemson and Oklahoma unless something crazy happens. Clemson’s sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence is experiencing a slump to begin the season, and it hasn’t phased the Tigers. In fact, losing a bevy of defensive talent to the NFL doesn’t seem to phase them either. They just keep rolling along. Unless NC State or Wake Forest are able to catch them slipping or looking forward to their rivalry game with South Carolina, they will not be challenged for a seat at the proverbial playoff table.

Oklahoma has the top offense in the FBS… again, with a third different QB. But this time Jalen Hurts brings championship DNA and an ability to overcome adversity to the conversation. They will most likely not be challenged in Big 12 play, and that includes a Texas squad that continues to underachieve despite every advantage known to man. The offense is just too deadly with Hurts, and their defense has improved enough to punch their ticket.

Big Ten is a Big Two!

With respect to undefeated Penn State and Iowa, this conference is a two-horse race. Both the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes control their own destiny, but that destiny includes a date with Ohio State for Penn State and a matchup with Wisconsin for Iowa. Neither team seems likely to emerge victorious.

That leaves the Buckeyes and the Badgers left to duke it out in the Big 10 Championship Game, with the winner claiming their bid to the CFB Playoffs. Both teams’ offense have been impressive, but the defenses have looked like the difference. Both are mature, fast and nasty. The difference will be which offensive superstar will carry his team into the playoffs: Ohio State’s QB Justin Fields or Wisconsin’s RB Jonathan Taylor?

In the SEC, there can be only one!

We get it, the SEC is good, again! But if the scenarios I laid out above play out, there is no room for two SEC teams this season. So, despite having so many undefeated teams in the conference, one loss spells doom unless everyone loses. LSU and Alabama seem to have what it takes to represent the conference when the smoke clears.

Both teams look better than Auburn, Florida, and Georgia, who are also undefeated, but have looked beatable so far. Besides, these teams will likely cannibalize themselves by the time the selection committee has to pick the four.

The concern for Bama is the run game, as it has not looked as dominant as it has looked in past seasons. That has a chance to improve over the season as the offensive line gels, and as the running backs get more confidence.

For LSU, the concern looks to be defensively. With multiple starters sidelined, they don’t seem to be able to shut down opposing offenses. This has led to QB Joe Burrow putting up video game numbers, because they are unable to sustain a big enough lead to tap teams out with the run game.

The deciding game could be when the Tigers and Tide meet on November 9th in Tuscaloosa. It could essentially be the playoff play-in game.

Questions? Comments?

Tweet: @geneclemons

Email: gclemons@footballgameplan.com

FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings

FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Quarterbacks

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Running Backs

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Split End Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Flanker Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Slot Receiver Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Inside Receivers Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Inline TE Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: H-Back Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Flex TE Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Center Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Offensive Tackle Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Guard Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Defensive End Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Defensive Tackle Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Edge Rushers Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Inside Linebacker Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Outside Linebacker Prospects

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FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Cornerback Prospects

FBGP Scouting’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Safety Prospects

Senior Bowl: Day 3 Observations – South Team

Shorter, but Productive South Practice Closes Out Senior Bowl Week

Emory Hunt

In what was the final practice for the public here in Mobile, the South Team went for a little bit over an hour on Thursday, as you began to see the mass exodus of scouts immediately afterwards. It was a team-vs-team heavy practice that gave a lot of opportunities for guys to make plays at close to full tilt before Saturday’s game.

Tyree Jackson Stands Tall Amongst the Rest

This has been a really good week for Jackson’s draft stock, as the 6’7 signal caller has been consistent with his accuracy and ball placement throughout the week. For as fast as he throws the football, he also makes it very catchable. Jackson’s ability to fit the football into tight windows has drawn a ton of praise from those in attendance, both scouts and media alike.

Tyre Brady & Deebo Samuel Standout

I thought Thursday’s practice was an excellent one for both Tyre Brady (Marshall) and Deebo Samuel (South Carolina). In what seems to be a broken record, both guys have had really good practices during their time in Mobile. Whether it’s in 1-on-1s or 7-on-7s, you always see both players making acrobatic catches that have the crowd going “Oooh and Ahhh”.

Bluegrass Corner Ballin’

Another player who has made the most of this week in Mobile has been Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. I thought he was the best corner out there on Thursday, and one of the best during the entire week. Johnson, for a 6’3 corner, is very fluid and technically sound. His length allows him to shrink passing windows and he has the ball skills to make catching the football very difficult for the wide receiver. Johnson has definitely made himself some money this week at the Senior Bowl.

Offensive Line-Defensive Line Battle to Stalemate in 1-on-1s

I thought this was one of the more competitive periods of practice. Both sides did their fair share of damage to the other. There were a few standouts that we’ll mention below, but these two units I’m excited to see go up against the North Team, as that alone will be must see TV.

More Day 3 Practice Standouts (South Team)

OL – Javon Patterson (6’3 314), Ole Miss: Patterson was outstanding during 1-on-1s. I don’t recall seeing him lose a rep. His footwork and hand placement was consistent and he maintained a good level of control throughout the rep.

DL – Kingsley Keke (6’4 305), Texas A&M: Keke has excellent core strength that allows him to escort an offensive lineman back into the lap of a QB. It’s the ball get off, in conjunction with his strength, that makes him impressive.

DL – Montez Sweat (6’6 245), Mississippi State: Remember the movie The Last Dragon? Well, Sweat definitely had the glow of Bruce LeRoy during Thursday’s practice. He just has a knack for making his skill set consistently work for him against the offensive linemen. If anything, Sweat has solidified his spot as one of the top defensive players in the NFL Draft after this week of work.

OL – Ross Pierschbacher (6’3 309), Alabama: No one frustrated more defensive linemen during 1-on-1s than Pierschbacher. It didn’t matter how fast or explosive the defender came off the ball, Pierschbacher did not budge. He showed an excellent ability to anchor, absorb and redirect. Fantastic performance on Thursday.

OL – Oli Udoh (6’6 365), Elon: Quietly, the former Elon Phoenix and Shrine Game call up has been steady all week long. It’s been good for Udoh personally and his subsequent draft stock, to stack back-to-back strong weeks.

QB – Jarrett Stidham (6’3 215), Auburn: Stidham had a really good Thursday practice, making some nice throws during 7-on-7 period and during team periods.

RB – Wes Hills (6’2 218), Slippery Rock: It’s been impressive to see how good of a receiver Hills is coming out of the backfield. This was one element of his game that you wanted to see coming into the week, and he hasn’t disappointed. Another player who’s stacking back-to-back good weeks.

DL – Jaylon Ferguson (6’5 262), Louisiana Tech: Ferguson moves extremely well for his size and has a bit of finesse to his game to go along with his excellent strength. He’s been one to consistently give OL fits this week.

DL – Dontavius Russell (6’3 320), Auburn: I think Russell’s ball get off and ability to whip out a counter move is what made him a tough block on Thursday during 1-on-1s. He does a great job of using his own natural leverage, and stealing leverage away from an offensive lineman.

DE – Carl Grandseron (6’5 261), Wyoming: Granderson had himself a day today during 1-on-1s. Good hand usage was the reason why he won so many battles. He was also able to dip and accelerate past the OL as well.

TE – Dax Raymond (6’5 250), Utah State: Raymond had a really good day during 7-on-7 drills and during 1-on-1s. He runs really good routes and does a great job of tracking the football, looking it into his hands.

Day 3 Practice Highlights (South Team)

WRs/DBs 1-on-1s

OL/DL 1-on-1s

Team-vs-Team

Senior Bowl: Day 3 Observations – North Team

Golden Domer Shines as North Squad Wrap Up Practices

Emory Hunt

The North Team finished their Senior Bowl week practices going the full 2-hours at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. We saw 6 separate competitive periods between the offense and defense, which yielded itself to some standout performance as NFL Scouts got their last look at players before heading off to the airport.

Dexter Williams Impresses

Out of all of the running backs in attendance, you just see a different level of speed, explosiveness and acceleration coming from the former Notre Dame star. This was on display during the 9-on-7 period and in Team-vs-Team period. Williams consistently found the right lane and hit the turbo button to explode through it. He would be my pick to be the RB during the actual Senior Bowl game on Saturday to make 2-3 big plays coming out of the backfield. Williams has had himself a very impressive week here in Mobile.

Keelan Doss Plays & Looks the Part

Watching UC Davis wideout Keelan Doss all week, you get a great appreciate of how he goes about his craft. Doss was consistent in his entire process throughout the week here in Mobile, looking the part of a 10-year NFL vet. For a 6’3 206lb WR, Doss does a great job of sinking his hips and getting in-and-out of his breaks with ease. He also shows strong hands in snatching the football out of the air. Earlier in the week it was his body control that was impressive, for the rest of the time here at the Senior Bowl, it’s been the rest of his arsenal that has impressed as well.

Ichabod Corner Boast Strong Performance

Not too many corners have had as solid of a week as Washburn’s cornerback Corey Ballentine. The 6’0 204lb DB looked solid in 1-on-1 drills on Thursday, using all the traits needed to be a successful corner, hips, hands & feet, to be successful during the 1-on-1 period. He’s quietly been a really good player here at the practices and definitely has caught the attention of plenty NFL Scouts.

Hart & McLaurin Do It Again

Wide Receivers Penny Hart (Georgia State) and Terry McLaurin (Ohio State) once again shine during practice. Hart has proved to be one of the more difficult receivers to cover during 1-on-1s and in 7-on-7. His quickness, suddenness and burst has given defensive backs fits throughout the week. McLaurin has performed as if he already had the answers to the test before arriving here in Mobile. Everything has looked both smooth and easy for him when facing defensive backs throughout the week.  McLaurin has no issues catching the ball over his shoulder, sprinting across the middle of the field, or going to the ground.

Offensive Line Looks Cohesive

This is always impressive when you watch an all-star game practice: which units quickly builds cohesiveness. Well, for the North Team it has been the offensive line. Chris Linstrom (Boston College), Dalton Risner (Kansas State), Garrett Bradbury (NC State), Chuma Edoga (USC) and Beau Benzschawel (Wisconsin) have looked outstanding. This group was strong during 9-on-7 period on Thursday, while also doing well individually during OL/DL 1-on-1s.

Safety First

Boston College’s Will Harris, Michigan State’s Khari Willis and Delaware’s Nasir Adderley stood out on Thursday during Team-vs-Team period. It’s easy to see how much of an impact these guy can have as blitzers, force players and run defenders. I thought they excelled in those capacities at one point or the other during the day.

More Practice Standouts from Day 3 (North Team)

FB – Alec Ingold (6’2 242), Wisconsin: Ingold was gold during Blitz Pickup drills. The former Wisconsin Badgers fullback did a fantastic job in stymieing oncoming rushers. He showed really good technique in that regard.

LB – Germaine Pratt (6’3 242), North Carolina State: Pratt was also impressive during Blitz Pickup period, using a variety of ways to get past the blocker. His key to success was constantly getting his hands on the offensive player first, subsequently controlling him afterwards.

CB – Kris Boyd (6’0 195), Texas: Boyd has been solid all week long. He’s been consistent in 1-on-1s, showing himself to be a good man defender. I really like how he closes on the ball, making things very difficult for the receiver in the process.

CB – Jordan Brown (6’1 195), South Dakota State: During 7-on-7s, I thought the former SDSU Jackrabbit had his best day. You got the chance to see him be patient and use his length to his advantage as he made plays on the ball.

QB – Drew Lock (6’4 225), Missouri: In my opinion, Lock has been the best QB on the North Team. He’s not afraid to make any throws and during the Team-vs-Team period of practice on Thursday, he was able to get rid of the ball multiple times, avoiding what would’ve have been sacks.

DT – Greg Gaines (6’2 316), Washington: The former Huskies DT was great on Thursday, winning many of his 1-on-1 battles in addition to being very disruptive during Team-vs-Team.

DT – Khalen Saunders (6’2 310), Western Illinois: Saunders’ ball get off is special. He explodes into the offensive linemen and is able to easily drive him back into the QB/backfield. He had another good showing in 1-on-1s.

RB – Tony Pollard (6’0 205), Memphis: Pollard has a similar level of acceleration and burst as Dexter Williams. During both Team-vs-Team and 9-on-7, Pollard found a couple of lanes and made the defense pay miserably.

Practice Highlights – Day 3 (North Team)

WR-DBs 1-on-1s

OL-DL 1-on-1s

9-on-7 Period

Blitz Pickup

7-on-7 Period

Team-vs-Team