COLLEGE NEWS

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

Senior Bowl: Day 1 Observations – North Team

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Emory Hunt

The 2nd practice of the day here in Mobile, was sort of a damper (pun intended). As the North Team took the field for the first time, the weather started to become a factor as it went from a slight drizzle to a consistent one. This made things a little bit challenging for the passing game, both for QBs and WRs alike. Didn’t matter much to the OL and DL, they’re built for this and it’s no surprise why they fared better than their perimeter counterparts throughout the day.

Quarterbacks Showed Something Individually

It wasn’t all lost for the QBs during the bad weather practice, as each one showed something unique or flashed a trait that caught your attention. For Duke’s QB Daniel Jones it was his ability to hit the deep ball. His high arching rainbows are easy to track and catch if you’re a receiver. Drew Lock’s well documented arm strength was on display as well. He was able to drive a deep shot on a rope to UC Davis WR Keelan Doss. I was impressed with how NC State’s Ryan Finley was able to make the right decisions during 7 on 7 and in team periods with the ball. And Trace McSorely’s ability to throw on the move helped him complete some passes in 7-on-7 as well. It’s unfortunate with the Wednesday practice being moved indoors that we (media) can’t see how these guys would perform and start to separate themselves in ideal conditions.

Offensive Lineman Hold Strong in 1-on-1s

During the OL/DL 1-on-1 drills, I saw an impressive display of both discipline and patience by the offensive line. Guys like Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary (Washington) and Dalton Risner (Kansas State) did a really good job of not allowing the defensive line to either bull rush their way through, or beat them with speed. You can see some of the frustration grow throughout the period, which only made things interesting during team-vs-team period.

Defensive Line Wakes Up in Team

Here’s where you saw payback from the defensive front of the North Team. The offensive line found it difficult to get movement up front and get the ground game going. Boston College’s Zach Allen, Arizona State’s Renell Wren and Oregon’s Jalen Jelks I thought did a fantastic job against the offensive line in this portion of practice.

Practice Standouts

DL – LJ Collier (6’4 276), TCU: It was fun to watch Collier essentially be the only defensive lineman to have sustained success against the offensive line. He’s super quick off the ball and brings his hands with him immediately as well. A big reason why he was able to find success on the interior during 1-on -1 drills.

LB – Dre Greenlaw (6’0 227), Arkansas: During the team periods, it seemed as if Greenlaw made every tackle on the inside. He consistently got great run fits and was able to trust what he saw, attack downhill with confidence and make the play.

WR – Penny Hart (5’8 180), Georgia State: In my opinion, Hart was the only receiver that seemed to be running on a dry field during Tuesday’s practice. The former GSU Panther explodes out of his breaks and is able to quickly accelerate once he makes the catch to pull away from the defender. I thought he had a quietly strong debut to the week.

RB – Karan Higdon (5’10 202), Michigan: Higdon was the best back during the day, especially in team period. He’s got an extra burst to his game and runs with decisiveness. He’s a compactly built runner that was able to explode through a couple of arm tackles during the period.

WR – Keelan Doss (6’3 206), UC Davis: What was impressive about Doss’s Day 1 practice was the level of body control he displayed on a wet field. He was able to stop on a dime and come back to the football many times throughout the day. Whether it was in 1-on-1s, 7-on-7s, or team drills, once the ball is in the air, Doss does whatever it takes to get himself in position to make the catch.

WR – Terry McLaurin (6’1 205), Ohio State: McLaurin, like Hart, was operating on a dry field. He has a really good feel for spacing in relation to where his is on the field. McLaurin was able to win most of his reps in 1-on-1s, showcasing the ability to stack & accelerate past the defender. He had the best day of all the wideouts in my opinion.

LB – Ben Banogu (6’4 245), TCU: I really like how Banogu moves for a linebacker. Very good sideline-to-sideline speed and takes really good angles to eliminate or neutralize the outside run. He closes really well on the ball carrier also.

Practice Highlights: Day 1

North Team Takeaways

7-on-7 Period

 

Team-vs-Team

WRs-vs-DBs 1-on-1s

OL-vs-DL 1-on-1s

Shrine Game: Day 3 Observations – West Team

West Team Gets a Lot of Team Reps

Emory Hunt

It was a heavy situational football approach for the West Team on Day 3, as we saw 4 sets of team drills throughout the day: Team Run, Team 3rd Downs, Team Regular, Team 2-minutes. This gave you a good look at the quarterbacks and how they can lead a drive to either move the sticks or come away with points. In that regard, I thought Fresno State QB Marcus McMaryion had the best day out of the QBs as he was the only one to lead his unit down the field for a touchdown during Team 2-minutes.

Northwestern Corner Stacks Back-to-Back Days

I like what I saw from former Northwestern Wildcat corner Montre Hartage (6’0 195) during 1-on-1s. He has really good closing speed on the receiver, his hands stay active and he able to smoothly flip his hips and run with the wideout. He’s been really good so far here.

Quack Attack

Oregon Ducks LB Justin Hollins (6’5 242) has been stellar throughout the week for the West Team. He’s having a Uchenna Nwosu-type all-star week, where you constantly see him popping up against the run, winning rep after rep in OL/DL 1-on-1s, he’s been everywhere. Hollins has definitely made himself some money this week.

Big 12 DL Disruptive Again

It’s becoming a broken record in talking about Kansas Jayhawks defensive lineman Daniel Wise and Texas Longhorns DT Chris Nelson. They’ve been two of the practice stars this week at the Shrine Game. Wise’s quickness and explosiveness off the ball has him in the backfield a ton. Walker has excellent hand strength/usage that allows him to get off blocks on a consistent basis. Both have been tough to block throughout the week.

More Practice Standouts

LB – Cody Barton (6’2 230), Utah: Barton does a great job against the run. He takes proper angles to the ball, gets good run fits and doesn’t allow the back to get outside. He’s been assignment sound all week.

RB – Nick Brossette (6’0 221), LSU: Brossette had an excellent day in the Team Red Zone period. He caught the football well, and has done so all week. I also thought he ran with good patience during Team Run periods, always finding open space within the defense.

RB – Devine Ozigbo (6’0 235), Nebraska: I like the way he attacks a lane when he has one. Ozigbo can really pick’em up and put’em down when plants his foot in the ground and heads up field. He had a couple of nice plays, both run and pass, during the practice.

OG – Lanard Bonner (6’5 315), Arkansas State: Bonner fires off the ball with the type of attitude and aggression that you want to see from your interior offensive lineman. Today he was stellar during the Team Run periods. He fights hard and competes to get the most out of every rep.

CB – Donnie Lewis Jr. (6’0 195), Tulane: Impressive day for the Green Wave corner. Lewis made a few plays during 7-on-7 and in Team 2-minute, ending a drive with a pass breakup. He plays bigger than his already bigger listed size.

P – Jack Fox (6’2 224), Rice: There is a certain sound that you hear when a punt is a good one. Fox is able to strike that chord each and every time. He’s been punting the ball extremely well.

Practice Highlights: Day 3 – West Team

WRs/DBs 1-on-1s

Team-vs-Team Run

Team-vs-Team 3rd Down

7-on-7 Period

Team-vs-Team Regular & 2-Minute

Shrine Game: Day 3 Observations – East Team

Ta’amu & Dogbe Among Standouts on Day 3

Emory Hunt

In the final practice of full pads, the East Team hit the field for 2-hours on Wednesday, allowing some guys to turn it up a notch and impress. We saw a couple of prospects have their best days on Day 3 at Tropicana Field.

Jordan Ta’amu Leads the Way

The Ole Miss QB had a strong day throwing the football. Ta’amu was able to excel in both 7-on-7 and team periods, being both decisive and accurate throughout.  At all levels of the field and even situationally, Ta’amu was able to come through.

Temple Tuff

DL Michael Dogbe had himself a very disruptive day.  In OL/DL 1-on-1s and in the team period, you kept seeing #90 making a play at, or behind the line of scrimmage. During the team period, Dogbe was blowing up screens, regular run plays and getting to the QB in what would’ve been sacks in the game.

Backs & Backers Go Head-to-Head in Blitz Pickup

This was a really good drill as I thought there were a couple of standouts on both sides. Again, this is a drill that’s tilted in favor of the linebackers as they’re rushing with a full head of steam toward a stationary target. The trick for the backs is to get your feet underneath you, keep them moving, make first contact with your hands and wash the defender to wherever his momentum is taking him. Maryland’s Ty Johnson and UMass RB Marquis Young I thought handled themselves well in this drill. From a rush perspective, North Carolina LB Cole Holcomb proved to be a tough block, winning virtually every rep with a variety of moves.

Tar Heel Backers

Speaking of Cole Holcomb, he and his teammate Malik Carney have quietly put together a stellar week of work. Watching those two run sideline-to-sideline has been an impressive sight. Carney also sees time as a rush end during 1-on-1s, showing the explosiveness off the corner to frustrate offensive tackles.

Colonial Athletic Association Strength

Both CAA prospects Oli Udoh (Elon) and Ethan Greenidge (Villanova) were able to impose their will on opposing defensive lineman during team period. Both guys are so strong at the point of attack and really get tremendous movement up front. Both players have definitely caught the attention of multiple scouts because of their play.

Custis, Moreland & Horsted Shine Again

It has become a common theme here in St. Pete to see WR Jamal Custis (Syracuse), CB Jimmy Moreland (James Madison) and WR Jesper Horsted (Princeton) have great practices. Custis has been virtually impossible to cover in 1-on-1s, Moreland seems to always have the ball in his hands, as he did once again on Day 3, and Horsted comes up big -time during the team periods and in 7-on-7s.  All three guys should shine in the game as well.

More Practice Standouts

S – Chris Johnson (6’3 200), North Alabama: The former UNA Lions star moves really well on the back end. Johnson is a fluid athlete that consistently takes the right angles to the football. It’s been a steady week for him.

CB – Tim Harris (6’1 205), Virginia: Harris had himself a day today in coverage. The 6’1 205lb corner was excellent in both 1-on-1s and team drills. I thought he did a good job in 1-on-1s using his length to make things difficult for the receiver.

OL – Joshua Miles (6’6 310), Morgan State: Another good day from the Morgan State Bear. Miles was strong in pass pro during the team periods today, stonewalling a few overly aggressive defenders.

DT – Ricky Walker (6’2 300), Virginia Tech: Walker was very disruptive on Day 3 during the Team Period. Using his quickness off the ball to split double teams and win vs 1-on-1 blocks as well.

DL – Jordan Brailford (6’3 250, Oklahoma State: I thought Brailford had a solid day overall. He was able to have success in both 1-on-1s and team periods. He’s got a pretty good shoulder dip that allows him to get past OL. He was in on a few plays against the run during team periods.

DT – Cortez Broughton (6’2 290), Cincinnati: Really good day from the former Bearcat during team-vs-team run period. Broughton routinely found himself in the backfield making a stop.

LB – Ulysees Gilbert III (6’1 230), Akron: Gilbert has impressed a lot this week. He’s got a high level football I.Q. You can see that he has taken to this defense pretty quickly because he always is in the right spot making a play. He really thrives during team drills. He’s primed for a big game on Saturday.

CB – Derrick Baity Jr. (6’3 188), Kentucky: Stacking back-to-back strong days in coverage for the Kentucky Wildcats corner. Baity really proves his worth during 1-on-1 drills. So impressive for a 6’3 corner.

Practice Highlights – Day 3 (East Team)

WRs/DBs 1-on-1s

9-on-7 Drills

7-on-7 Period

Team-vs-Team

Shrine Game: Day 2 Observations – West Team

Wide Receivers Shine on Day 2

Emory Hunt

West Team Wide Receivers Display A+ Athleticism

It doesn’t take long to watch the West Team receivers and notice how ridiculously athletic the group is. I spoke about this on Day 1, but it’s just so remarkable to see the level of consistency of the athleticism throughout the receiver group. Not only are they explosive, they catch the ball extremely well. It’ll be interesting to see how this group fares in the game against the East Team.

Fresno State Pair Have Great Days

QB Marcus McMaryion and WR KeeSean Johnson had really good practices on Day 2. I thought McMaryion was the best QB of the day. For one, he didn’t turn the ball over. And two, he was accurate at all levels of the field. Johnson has been the talk of St. Pete so far this week with the way he’s performing out there on the field. He’s the West Team’s version of Terry Godwin, in how his explosive and makes everything look rather easy. It’s no surprise that the Bulldogs had an 11-2 season with these two guys spearheading their offensive attack.

Impressive Safety Play on Day 2

UCLA’s Adarius Pickett, Wyoming’s Andrew Wingard, Michigan’s Tyree Kinnel and Colorado’s Evan Worthington were solid on Day 2. Wingard had a pick six during practice, while Pickett and Worthington were real solid in both run support and taking away deep ball opportunities. I like how this group works together to also help out the corners during 7-on-7 and team periods.

OL-DL Play to a Stalemate in 1-on-1s

There were enough victories to go around during the OL/DL 1-on-1 period. The West Team has some pretty athletic tackles in Trey Pipkins (Sioux Falls), Jackson Barton (Utah), Ryan Pope (San Diego State). I thought those three did a great job all period long against defensive ends. On the interior, La Tech’s Oshea Dugas & Michigan’s Juwann Bushell-Beatty were excellent also. Dugas is quietly having himself a really strong week in St. Pete.

For the defense, Kansas Jayhawks DT Daniel Wise seemed to win his matchup throughout the period. He uses his hands extremely well and was almost Kung Fu like in his ability to use leverage to win. The same for Texas DT Chris Nelson. He’s been really good not only in 1-on-1s, but also in 9-on-7s and in team periods. He’s having himself an outstanding week. Texas A&M’s Daylon Mack was also able to find a lot of success during the period. It seemed as if they were in the heads of the OL, knowing how they were planning to attack them before the snap and being able to counter as a result.

More Practice Standouts

LB – Joe Dineen (6’2 235) Kansas: During the Team Run period, Dineen delivered a couple of good pops on the running back. I love how he just explodes on contact. Very good read and recognition skills in the running game.

CB – Ka’dar Hollman (6’0 190), Toledo: Every time you look up, you see the former Toledo Rockets corner making a play on the ball, staying in the hip pocket on the receiver, or flying up in run support to make a stop. Hollman has put out some good tape here in St. Pete all week long. He’s been playing great.

DL – Derick Roberson (6’4 250), Sam Houston State: Roberson is a very athletic edge rusher and showed a variety of moves during 1-on-1s. His speed off the ball and ability to dip his shoulder as he turns the corner, has made him a tough block this week.

LB – Justin Hollins (6’5 242), Oregon: Hollins was strong against the run during the team period segment of practice. He did a good job of setting the edge and making the plays that came his way.

CB – Blace Brown (6’0 190), Troy: Brown is looking like the best corner on the West Team. He does everything technically well and has displayed the ball skills that you covet at the next level.

RB – Darrin Hall (5’11 222), Pitt: Hall is another running back in this game with good, all around skills. On Day 2 we saw him add to that by catching the ball really well both out of the backfield, and downfield as well. He has a lot of Jeremy Hill-like skills that he brings to the table. Impressive footwork as well.

WR – Brody Oliver (6’3 210), Colorado School of Mines: You can see the polish in the game of Oliver. That is because of the offense he came out of at CSM. What’s impressive about his game is his explosiveness and body control. He’s another receiver that’s having a strong performance in front of scouts. And is another one that runs small but plays big.

TE – Kato Dillon (6’5 265), Oregon: Dillon is a powerful player. You can tell that in how he runs his routes. Very good acceleration for a 265lb guy, that shows above-average athleticism to make any type of catch.

Practice Highlights – Day 2 West Team

WRs-vs-DBs 1-on-1s

OL-vs-DL 1-on-1s

9-on-7 Drills

Team-vs-Team

Shrine Game: Day 2 Observations – East Team

Bulldogs Dominate on Day 2

Emory Hunt

East Team Practice Notes

Georgia Prospects Standing Out

Georgia center Lamont Gaillard and wide receiver Terry Godwin II have looked like two of the best players on the offensive side of the ball for the East Team. During both OL/DL 1-on-1s and 9-on-7, Gaillard won virtually every rep. In pass rush drills, he’s able to stonewall defensive lineman, and during the 9-on-7 run drills he’s able to consistently move guys off the spot. Godwin looks to be the most explosive of the receiving corps. Everything is explosive with him, from his stem into his route, to win he snaps it off to comeback or to explode in-or-out on a cut, Godwin kills it. He also has really good hands. There’s a razor-sharp focus coming from these to Bulldogs.

Oklahoma State’s QB Sharp on Day 2

With his second consecutive strong day, Oklahoma State QB Taylor Cornelius is starting to separate himself from the pack on the East Squad. There’s a different level of both velocity and decisiveness when he throws the ball. With the way he’s throwing the ball with both timing and accuracy, you’d think these are the receivers he played with back in Stillwater. He’s been really impressive so far.

Moreland Makes Plays

Another prospect who has posted back-to-back strong days of work is James Madison corner Jimmy Moreland. I’m a big fan of corners that can find, and make plays on the ball. That’s what we got yesterday again from the former Dukes star. During team period, Moreland’s sticky coverage yielded itself to him making a couple of plays. There’s something to be said for a defensive player that always ends up with the ball in his hands.

Big Men that can Move

I do believe that once we get to the actual game, the East Team will be able to run the ball. 9-on-7 period on Day 2 was an excellent display of athleticism along the offensive line. Morgan State’s Josh Miles, Elon’s Olisaemeka Udoh and Florida’s Martez Ivey looked really good on the move. Their athleticism allows them to win in different ways, regroup-and-redirect, while also getting out on the move a well. You see a lot of the same things in Illinois center Nick Allegretti and North Carolina State’s guard Tyler Jones. Overall I think the East OL is having a strong week of work.

Jamal Custis Raises Eyebrows

What a day by the former Syracuse Orange wide receiver Jamal Custis. A 6’5 213lb receiver isn’t supposed to move so effortlessly and fluid. In 1-on-1s is where I thought he did his best work. Custis was able to easily get separation from the DB, stacking him as well, and making the reception. On one particular play you saw him explode into his route, and quickly snap it off on a perfect comeback route and make the catch. I like the versatility he’s showing as well, as a big guy who can also play inside. This has been a really good week for him.

Linebackers Have a Day in 1-on-1s

I thought the linebackers did a great job today in RB-vs-LBs 1-on-1 drills. UNC’s duo of Malik Carney and Cole Holcomb, along with Maryland’s Tre Watson made life difficult for the running backs throughout the period. You didn’t see panic from these guys during this period, as they stayed patient, trusted their own athleticism and made plays.

DTs Causing Havoc Inside

Both Tennessee’s Kyle-Lawrence Phillips and Rutgers’ Kevin Wilkins had a lot of success individually in 1-on-1s. Kyle-Lawrence Phillips hand usage was outstanding, while Wilkins ball get off and ability to use his leverage had him posting back-t0-back solid reps during this period.

More Practice Standouts

CB – Derrick Baity, Jr (6’3 188), Kentucky: Baity transitions well for a taller corner and had a really good day in 1-on-1s. Baity moves small and plays big, which is exactly how you want it to be.

RB – Jordan Ellis (5’10 225), Virginia: Ellis plays a pro game. You can tell he’s going to be a chain-mover at the next level. I was able to speak to him after practice and he explained how the offense they ran at UVa helped prepare him for the NFL. He’s got good, all-around game.

RB – Ty Johnson (5’10 212), Maryland: I really like how comfortable Johnson looks catching the ball out of the backfield. He has been showing a lot of the tools needed to have a significant role within an offense at the next level.

WR – Terry Wright (5’11 180), Purdue: The chemistry he has with his QB here David Blough is evident, but outside of that Wright still has performed really well with whoever throws him the ball. I think he matches Godwin in terms of explosiveness and athleticism. He made a fantastic catch deep downfield over his shoulder.

RB – Marquis Young (6’1 210), UMass: Young has a different burst to his game. You can see this during both 9-on-7 and in team periods. His burst and acceleration threatens angles.

TE – Matthew Sokol (6’6 255), Michigan State: I think Sokol may be the fastest Tight End here at the Shrine Game, both East and West teams. He’s such a smooth route runner, and with his speed and acceleration, he’s finding himself open a lot at practice.

LB – Takitaki Sione (6’2 240), BYU: Sione brought his A-game in 9-on-7 today, making a few big ‘thuds’ against the running backs. His run fits were where they needed to be, and he had a great period as a result.

LB – Ulysees Gilbert III (6’1 230), Akron: Quietly, Gilbert has posted back-to-back solid days during team drills. He trusts what he sees and is able to quickly react to make a play. He was solid on both ends of defense on Day 2.

EDGE – Mathieu Betts (6’3 250), Laval: The Canadian standout was much more consistent on Day 2 in attacking the leverage of the offensive linemen during 1-on-1s, now showing the ability to counter if the first move is stopped. Also, during 9-on-7, Betts had a much better showing against the run. He’s starting to really get adjusted to the American game.

Practice Highlights – Day 2 East Team

WRs/RBs/TEs -vs- LBs/DBs 1-on-1

OL-vs-DL 1-on-1s

9-on-7 Drills

Team-vs-Team

Shrine Game: Day 1 Observations – West Team

West Team Practice Gets Underway

Emory Hunt

Initially what stands out to you about the West Team here at the East West Shrine Game, is how long and athletic they are in many areas in their personnel. What a great collection of talent put together on this team this year.

Practice Standouts

There was a lot of focus on the QBs today as Brett Rypien (Boise State), Marcus McMaryion (Fresno State) and Easton Stick (North Dakota State) took the field. I thought Rypien was slightly the more consistent today, but all seemed to throw the ball well during separate times at practice. To me, they all were about the same but Rypien probably gets the nod because of his level of consistency. I also thought he had some good pop on the ball in the intermediate range.

OT – Trey Pipkins (6’7 307), Sioux Falls: Pipkins not only looks the part of an NFL offensive lineman, but was able to play the part as well. For a taller guy, he does not struggle to get good leverage and was able to perform well on both ends of offense. I’m excited to see how he is able to build on a strong Day 1 performance.

Earlier I mentioned the length and athleticism within the personnel on the West Team and that immediately shows itself in the receiving corps.  KeeSean Johnson (Fresno State), Ron’quavion Tarver (Utah State), Cody Thompson (Toledo) and Brody Oliver (Colorado School of Mines) are all 6’2/6’3 and explosive. It was impressive to see taller receivers have no problem getting in-and-out of their breaks as if they were all 5’9. Johnson caught the ball extremely well yesterday and Tarver had an excellent showing during 1-on-1s. The other receivers like Shawn Poindexter (Arizona) and Jon Duhart (Old Dominion) have that physically imposing size that yields itself to having a home on the outside at the NFL level.

TE – Kendall Blanton (6’6 265), Missouri: Blanton has impressive acceleration for a 265lber. I thought he was solid during both 7-on-7 and in 1-on-1s.

RB – Darrin Hall (5’11 225), Pitt: Hall just has a natural feel for the running game. Patient, consistent and fluid would aptly describe how he attacks the line of scrimmage when given the ball.

OT – Juwann Bushell-Beatty (6’6 318) Michigan: I thought Bushell-Beatty was outstanding during OL/DL 1-on-1s, showcasing a powerful punch and good footwork to stonewall defensive linemen.

The one defensive lineman that proved to be a nuisance throughout the day was Texas DT Chris Nelson. He was disruptive in 9-on-7, consistently finding himself in the backfield. And in 1-on-1s, Nelson showed impressive hand usage to free himself of blockers throughout the period.

CB – Blace Brown (6’0 191), Troy: Brown was as good as advertised yesterday. What’s impressive about his skill set is that he’s patient in coverage, doesn’t panic when the ball is in the air, and has good spatial awareness. I thought he had a strong opening practice.

DL – Markus Jones (6’3 260), Angelo State: Quietly, Jones had one of the more consistent days of all the defensive lineman/edge rushers. His dip under move was on point during 1-on-1s. Jones doesn’t stay blocked for long as he finds different ways to win vs an OL.

LB – BJ Blunt (6’1 220), McNeese State: Blunt’s speed and acceleration makes him a threat at the 2nd level. You were able to see yesterday him being moved around the defense, putting him in favorable situations to have success. You saw him get better with each rep during team-vs-team.

Practice Highlights – Day 1 (West Team)

WR-vs-DB 1-on-1s

OL-vs-DL 1-on-1s

9-on-7 Period

Team-vs-Team Period