Football Gameplan is on the scene in Fort Worth, Texas for the 2019 College Gridiron Showcase!
Here’s our Preview, Interviews and some exclusive video from all of the College Gridiron Showcase Practices!
College Gridiron Showcase Notebook: Day 1
Emory Hunt, FBGP Analyst
Day 1 of the 2019 College Gridiron Showcase got underway in Fort Worth, Texas. From my vantage point, all 32 NFL Teams and all 9 CFL teams were in attendance at McNair Stadium. Some teams had multiple scouts present. You know it’s scouting season anytime you see former NFL player, and current Cleveland Browns Front Office Exec. Alonzo Highsmith out and about. It’s that time of the year folks, and the CGS All-Star Showcase is a great event to kick off the 2019 All-Star Game Circuit.
The practice on Sunday was for the Small College Group (Marshalls) and the practices Monday-Wednesday will be for the two select groups (Wranglers & Desperadoes). The Small College Group only had Sunday to leave an impression on the scouts, as the rest of the week is for the two aforementioned groups.
Here’s a look at some of the standouts from Sunday’s practice:
QB Dominique Harris – 6’4 259, Benedict College: I thought Harris had the best day of the QBs, routinely making tight window throws with excellent velocity. He has a bit of a Cardale Jones-Rohan Davey-ness to his game and has put together back-to-back solid performances during the all-star circuit, having performed well at the National Bowl back in December.
RB Lamar Carswell – 5’7 183, Trine: Carswell just operates at a different speed. He was able to showcase both lateral quickness and explosiveness during 9-on-7s.
WR Ricky Rogers – 6’0 211, Indiana (PA): Rogers has a savvy about his game that allows him to consistently work himself open. I was also impressed with the level of body control shown in his ability to track the ball and haul in the reception.
WR Austin Calamita – 5’11 198, Western Connecticut State: This was my first time seeing Calamita play and I came away highly impressed with his explosiveness within his route running. After he does his work at the line of scrimmage, Calamita is able to explode into his route, creating a 2-3 yard cushion of separation between the defender. He’s also natural at catching the ball over his shoulders.
WR La’Darious McElroy – 6’5 238, Ouachita Baptist: McElroy has the ‘off the bus’ look about him. A physically imposing prospect that shows good quickness for a guy his size. He’s listed as an athlete here on the roster, so some teams may view him as either a bigger slot receiver, a split end (X) or even a Flex TE at the next level. He is able to catch the ball away from his body with ease and had a really good day.
TE Ryan Edwards – 6’2 253, Morehouse: I thought Edwards looked the most fluid out of the TE group. He caught the ball well and definitely knows where his hands are. Not overly explosive, but moves well enough to get himself open.
OT Travis Krall – 6’5 307, Bloomsburg: 1-on-1s I was impressed with Krall. Coming from the Huskies program, you rarely get to see a lot of pass pro reps, so I liked what I saw from him from a technical standpoint. He was solid in 9-on-7, that is expected considering how dominate as a unit they were at Bloomsburg.
DT Tyler Bembry – 5’11 338, Chowan: Fire hydrant of a player, who’s natural pad-level and leverage had him be a very disruptive player yesterday during 9-on-7s.
LB CJ Bivens – 5’11 244, Lindenwood: I thought his instinct vs the run was where it needed to be. And because of his ability to anticipate, he was able to consistently get good run fits during 9-on-7 and shrink space between he and the ball carrier during team-vs-team.
LB Antonio Harris – 6’1 230, Fairmont State: Harris brings good pop upon contact, showing just the right amount of aggressiveness at the position that allows him to COD pretty seamlessly if it’s play action.
CB Zuril Hendrick – 5’11 192, Edinboro: I liked his ability to matchup in 1-on-1s. He showed really good technique in press. He uses his hands well and has above-average footwork & hips to be able to turn and run with any type of receiver.
DB Andrew Roach – 6’1 183, Pace: Another stellar performance by the former Sacred Heart & Pace DB, having put together a solid week of work at the National Bowl in December. Roach was strong in 1-on-1s, even showing some versatility playing inside at times in the slot and back at safety.
There were other players that stood out (LB #37, LB #58 and DT #96) but their numbers weren’t reflected on the roster. I promise to get those names today.
Here are the Practice Highlights from Day 1 of the College Gridiron Showcase:
Desperados Hit the Field for the First Time
Day 2 of the College Gridiron Showcase was the first opportunity to see prospects that represent the 2 major groups of the event, the Desperados and Wranglers. We’ll start with Desperados.
QBs Start Slow, Finish Strong
The quarterbacks from this group: Hayden Moore (Cincinnati), Hayden Bauserman (Shenandoah), Dalton Banks (Cornell), Brad Mayes (Lehigh) and Grant Kraemer (Drake) got off to a bumpy start. That is expected considering this is the first time working with an entirely new group of receivers, so the timing just wasn’t quite right during a good part of the 1-on-1 drills. However, as they went into the Pass Skel portion of practice, we saw all QB step their game up significantly as they started to find the right timing with the wideouts, and getting the ball out decisively to the right target.
There are 5 Canadian Draft Prospects participating in this week’s events: OL Samuel Thomassin (Laval) & Zack Williams (Manitoba), DT Connor Griffiths (British Columbia), CB Jamie Harry (Ottawa) and RB Brady Oliveira (North Dakota). I thought the two OL Thomassin and Williams had really good days in 1-on-1s. Thomassin was able to stalemate a few DTs. Oliveira caught the ball extremely I thought, which is a major plus in today’s game. It’s going to be interesting to track their success here this week as yesterday all 5 guys got good reviews.
DT – Sean Kubit-Miller (6’0 302), Albion: He was the prospect the other day in the Marshalls group who’s number wasn’t on the roster. So, this is back-to-back strong days for him.
S – Ezekiel Edmonds (6’3 200), Clark Atlanta: The 6’3 200lb safety has very good footwork and is fluid in his backpedal. He was strong in 1-on-1s as well.
DE – Kevin Thompson Jr. (6’3 250), Bethune-Cookman: He is an impressive prospect. Heavy handed edge rusher that is extremely stout verses the run. He also stood out in the FCS Bowl as well.
OC – Michael Fleming (6’3 305), East Stroudsburg: Fleming played Left Tackle for the Warriors, but is making the move to the interior. The way he uses his hands in conjunction with his feet, was impressive yesterday in 1-on-1s.
ILB – Quentin Moon (6’1 230), Western Illinois: Terrific ‘thud’ player in 9-on-7 drills. He was consistent in his run fits as well as his ability in getting off blocks.
OT – Messiah Rice (6’6 310), Hampton: He’s all of 6’6 and definitely looks the part of an NFL offensive lineman. I thought he played the part as well yesterday also.
WR – Curtis Smith (5’9 169), SUNY-Maritime: Smith has tremendous acceleration and was able to consistently slip past and stack the defensive back during both 1-on-1s and Pass Skel. He’s been really impressive so far.
LB – Cardell Rawlings (6’1 240), Wingate: Putting together back-to-back strong All-Star game performances (National Bowl). Rawlings suddenness and explosiveness is evident when you watch him play. He’s can legitimately play all 3 backer spots.
CB – Issac Warren (6’1 195), Delta State: Big fan of how Warren uses his height to his advantage. He’s a patient player in both his backpedal, how he uses his hands and playing the ball once it’s in the air.
DE – Vincent Jackson (6’3 255), South Florida: Jackson was very disruptive during 9-on-7. It’s very tough for offensive linemen to get a good punch on him.
Desperados Practice Highlights
WR-vs-DBs & RBs/TEs-vs-LBs 1-on-1s
OL-vs-DL 1-on-1 Drills
Pass Skel Drills
Wranglers Hit the Field in the Afternoon for their 1st Workouts
Day 2 of the College Gridiron Showcase was as good as advertised in the afternoon group, as the Wranglers hit the field for a 2-hour practice, on a beautiful afternoon here in Fort Worth, Texas.
Running Backs Doing Well on Both Ends
The Wranglers have an impressive group of backs here at the showcase: AJ Ouellette (Ohio U), Tevin McCaster (Youngstown State), Dontae Strickland (Syracuse), Xavier Turner (Tarleton State), Aeris Williams (Mississippi State), Dom Bragalone (Lehigh) and Jonathan Hillman (Rutgers). All caught the ball really well during one-on-ones. And in 9-on-7, I thought they ran well also. Guys bring a variety of skills to the table. I love the explosiveness of Strickland and Williams. The suddenness of Hillman, McCaster and Ouellette was on display. And the feature-back-like vision from both Turner and Bragalone was impressive as well throughout the practice.
Ya “Herd” Me??
The Marshall Thundering Herd’s duo of LB Chase Hancock and OC Nathaniel Devers put together a strong practice. Hancock excelled throughout the 9-on-7 periords, while Devers was consistent during 1-on-1s. I thought Hancock also showed very good ability in coverage as well.
Strength on the Perimeter
The Wranglers also boast an impressive group of wideouts led by Justin Sumpter (Kennesaw State) and Juston Christion (Marist). Both guys were excellent during 1-on-1s. Another FCS standout was St. Francis wideout Kamron Lewis. While Colorado Buffaloes star wide receiver Kabion Ento was one of the smoothest route runners out there.
A Hokie-Cavalier Partnership
Along the offensive line, both ACC and state of Virginia rivals OG Braxton Pfaff (Virginia Tech) and OT Marcus Applefield (Virginia) served as RG & RT during 9-on-7 and were able to perform well throughout the drill. Both players also were excellent during OL/DL 1-on-1s.
DE – Justin Alexandre (6’5 255), Incarnate Word: Alexandre is explosive coming off the edge and shows a good understanding of how to bend and accelerate to the QB. He stood out in 1-on-1s.
TE – Cole Herdman (6’4 245), Purdue: Herdman makes catching the football look rather smooth and easy. He consistently worked himself open all day.
QB – Jacob Dolegala (6’6 240), Central Connecticut State: When you talk about a prospect that ‘looks’ the part, Dolegala has that look of an NFL QB. It also helps when you have the ability to put the ball wherever you want to on the field. I thought he threw the ball really well yesterday.
DE – Hunter Snyder (6’6 245), Florida Atlantic: He’s another rather explosive edge rusher that’s participating this week. He’s also surprisingly solid vs the run, using his length to disrupt plays during 9-on-7s.
S – McKinley Whitfield (6’3 210), Tulsa: Another taller Safety in this All-Star game that’s as fluid as a slot defender. Whitfield matched up well inside in coverage during 1-on-1s and showed good awareness during Pass Skel.
OT – Jerrod Brooks (6’6 290), UTEP: Brooks is a very good athlete that is capable of using his long arms to his advantage. He looked solid in both 1-on-1s and 9-on-7s.
DE – Jonathan Harris (6’5 290), Lindenwood: It seems as if every year there’s a strong defensive prospect coming out of the Lindenwood program. Harris can rush with both power and quickness.
OT – Brandon Hitner (6’5 305), Villanova: Hitner was hittin’ well during 1-on-1s. He had a devastating punch that put one defender on the ground immediately.
DT – Deshawnte Lloyd (6’2 315), New Mexico State: With his natural leverage, Lloyd found himself being a constant nuisance to the offensive linemen in 1-on-1 drills.
DT – Kalil Morris (6’2 315), Kent State: Every time you looked up, you saw the Kent State helmet making plays in the backfield. He’s explosive off the ball and works his hands extremely well.
DT – Ronald Ollie (6’2 280), Nicholls: Another squatty, but explosive defensive tackle, Ollie showed that he could work well in any technique along the interior. The versatility was impressive yesterday.
WR – Justin Sumpter (6’2 220), Kennesaw State: Despite coming from a triple-option offensive, Sumpter shows a mastery of route running, playing physical at the catch point and soft hands. I thought he had the best day of all the receivers in attendance.
Wranglers Practice Highlights
WR-vs-DBs and RBs/TEs-vs-LBs 1-on-1s
Pass Skel Drills
Desperado Offense Takes on Wrangler Defense in the Morning
On Day 3 of the College Gridiron Showcase, it was a cross practice that got things kicked off. In the morning we saw the Desperados Offense practice against the Defense of the Wranglers. This was a recent addition to the CGS All-Star event, as it allows guys from one group to match skills and compete against the other. And competition, especially in an all-star setting, is good for everyone involved as it brings out the best in all who participate.
The Man in the White Helmet
After a few days here, we finally figured out who the receiver was wearing the plain white helmet and it is Julius Wingate (6’3 199) of Stony Brook. This was important to figure out because Wingate has been having himself a really good week of work here at the CGS. He’s a long receiver that is able to get in-and-out of cuts with ease.
Linebackers Rule the Day
Day 3 was a really good day for the Linebackers in my opinion. I thought the group was able to excel in blitz pickup against the running backs and during 9-on-7 periods. I thought Eastern Michigan’s Kyle Rachwal, Luke Gifford (Nebraska), Jonathan Willis (Oregon State), Malik Fountain (Central Michigan) and Washington’s Tevis Barlett made their presence felt early and often during the practice.
No Fly Zone
During the WRs/DBs 1-on-1 periods, it was more Red Zone work today than the other practices. This gave you the opportunity to see how spatially aware the defensive backs, and receivers for that matter, really are. There is little room for error inside the 20-yard line and guys have to know where they are on the field in addition to being able to play with sound technique. The secondary, in my opinion, had the better day in this regard. Impressive performances by San Jose State’s Dakari Monroe, PJ Locke (Texas), OJ Johnson (Middle Tennessee State), Lee Moses (UMass), Mckinley Whitfield (Tulsa) and Nick Watkins (Houston) just to name a few.
QB – Layton Rabb (6’4 209), Midwestern State: Rabb threw the ball really well today, especially during 1-on-1s. I thought the placement was on point, and was consistent throughout the day.
RB – Ryan Ross (5’7 208), McNeese State: Ross caught the ball really well this practice. He’s a more shifty than you think and was able to create separation against the LBs in 1-on-1s. His feet never stop moving, which helps him get out of a jam in traffic and be able to sift through the trash, as he did during 9-on-7s.
TE – Vincent Hobbs (6’3 259), Texas A&M-Commerce: Hobbs had the best day of the Tight Ends on Day 3. He’s such a fluid and easy route runner with great hands. The consistency he showed in both areas definitely had the scouts buzzing throughout the morning workouts.
OL – Gavin Wiggins (6’3 318), Youngstown State: Wiggins in 1-on-1s won the majority of his reps. I really like how his hands were able to consistently stay inside the defender, keeping him in a position of control the entire rep.
OC – Breontae Matthews (6’4 330), North Carolina A&T: The former Aggie put together an impressive practice in both 1-on-1s and in 9-on-7s. Matthews is a well put together offensive lineman that can play C, Guard or Tackle. Over the course of the week I’ve been impressed with his versatility. His home will more than likely be inside as a pro. He’s been outstanding.
OL – Travis Vornkahl (6’5 285), West Texas A&M: Vornkahl does a great job of bringing his feet with him in the running game. He was able to consistently move guys off the spot during 9-on-7s. In 1-on-1s, his long arms, and how quickly he was able to get them up, was an advantage for him throughout the period.
WR – Trevor Knight (5’11 192), New Hampshire: I like the smoothness in which Knight runs his routes. He does a great job of setting up the defender before exploding out of his breaks. He also has a very good understanding of how to position his body to shield the defender away from the ball.
WR – DJ Brown (5’9 180), Northern Illinois: Quietly, DJ Brown has been one of the more consistent wideouts this week. You can tell he has played a lot of football, as his savvy is on another level. It’s been a joy to watch him work all week.
DE – Durrant Miles (6’4 261), Boise State: The former Bronco had a really good 9-on-7 period, showing a variety of ways to be disruptive. We saw the long-arm approach, quick kung-fu hands and even explosiveness off the edge.
CB – Josh Miller (5’10 183), Ball State: Every time you look up Miller seems to be locking down his wide receiver or has the ball in his hands. His ability to quickly react and drive on the ball is why he’s been having a ton of success this week.
TE – Marvin Fanfan (6’0 266), Virginia Union: On the surface it doesn’t look like Fanfan would win many 1-on-1 battles, but the big guy knows how to run routes and doesn’t drop many passes. I think he’s more along the lines of a fullback at the next level. He’s having a solid week.
Practice Highlights: Desperados Offense vs Wranglers Defense
WRs/RBs/TEs vs LBs/DBs 1-on-1s
Wranglers Offense Takes the Field in the Afternoon vs the Desperados Defense
In what turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon in Fort Worth, the 2nd practice of the day between the Wranglers Offense and Desperados Defense, was just as spirited and intense as the morning group. There was no drop-off in both ‘wow’ plays and moments from McNair Stadium.
This was a really good practice for the Safeties. David Griffith (UL-Monroe), Rob Rolle (Villanova) and Ezekiel Edmonds (Clark Atlanta) all had really good days in 1-on-1s and in Pass Skel. The way this group worked today, you’d think they’ve played with one another for years. This was evident during pass skel. The communication they showed amongst their group was impressive.Edmonds seems to always be around the ball.
Don’t let the Size Fool You
Defensive Tackles Miles Brown (Wofford) and Rodney Jackson (Grambling) are your shorter defensive tackles that win with natural leverage, but also explosiveness and quickness off the ball. It’s easy to get fooled by their height, but that’s how many OL on Day 3 were fooled by that assumption. Albion’s Sean Kubit-Miller is another one that has put together a strong week of work. He’s been one of the more consistent defensive tackles in attendance.
Canadian Defensive Prospects Stellar in 2nd Day
There’s a big difference in the style of play between the Canadian game and the American game. And the biggest difference is along the line of scrimmage and out on the perimeter. On Day 2 both DT Connor Griffith (British Columbia) and DB Jamie Harry (Ottawa) had a bit of an up-and-down day as they were getting acclimated to the differences of the American game, which includes the consistency of the speed, the more physical play and along the line of scrimmage, being a yard off the ball. Well, those guys are some fast learners as they got off to a great start to Day 3 and it remained that way throughout. Griffiths was able to have a lot of success in both 1-on-1s and 9-on-7s, finding himself in the backfield a lot. While Harry was a completely different player in coverage on Day 3, using his 6’1 206lb frame to his advantage, winning a lot of battles in 1-on-1s.
QB – Drew Anderson (6’4 222), Murray State: Anderson was excellent today in Pass Skel periods. He’s got really good zip on the ball and has definitely elevated himself this week in the eyes of scouts.
TE – Ari Werts (6’3 220), East Tennessee State: Despite playing with a slight injury, Werts was excellent on Day 3. He does a really good job catching the ball away from his body, also showing the ability to sacrifice his body for the reception. Him gutting it out on Day 3 earned him a lot of praise from the scouts in attendance.
OC – Chandler Miller (6’2 300), Tulsa: A quiet consistency for the former Golden Hurricane, Miller was strong in 9-on-7 periods on Day 3. He’s quickly able to get underneath the pads of the defensive linemen and move them from defensive line to safety. That’s how far his moves guys off the spot.
OT – Dino Boyd (6’3 293), Cincinnati: I don’t think I’ve seen Boyd lose a rep in 1-on-1s since I’ve been here. He’s been stellar in that regard. And despite not having the ‘ideal measurables’, Boyd gets it done in pass pro and does a great job exploding off the ball in the running game.
WR – Jody Fortson (6’4 224), Valdosta State: I really like the game of Jody Fortson. You can envisioning him playing on the outside or inside as a bigger slot receiver. He doesn’t shy away from the fact that he’s 6’4, as he is always willing to use his body to make the reception.
CB – Keenan Johnson (5’10 183), Central Florida: Johnson is one of the more active corners out there this week. I was impressed with his ability to mirror-and-match, play press and how he plants-and-drives on the ball. He’s been one of the better corners here all week.
CB – DeAndre Farris (5’9 196), Western Kentucky: Farris has very good recovery ability for the position. He’s very quick, explosive and seems to always be involved in the play. He’s going to have a home inside as a pro.
CB – Ike Warren (6’0 192), Delta State: Warren definitely looks the part of what you want at the position, and has played that way as well. He’s a physical corner that I feel as though could thrive in a heavy press scheme.
Day 3 Practice Highlights: Wranglers Offense vs Deperados Defense
WRs/RBs/TEs-vs-LBs/DBs in 1-on-1s
Pass Skel Drills