Defense Takes Control for the American Team
As the 2nd practice of the day began, it seemed to be all about the defense as they had a fantastic day from start-to-finish. That’s not to say that the offense didn’t have their fair share of success, it just seemed as if defensively, the American Team had it on their minds from the time they got off the bus, to the time they left the field.
Ivy League Representing
OT Thomas Dennis was outstanding in 1-on-1s on Day 1. Dennis saw a variety of edge rushers during the drill, guys that wanted to bull rush, guys that tried to beat him with speed and quickness, none were successful as the former Penn Quaker was able to stonewall guys throughout the drill. He’s the only Ivy League participant in the Tropical Bowl, and is doing a great job of representing the Ancient Eight down here in Daytona Beach, as he did back in December at the FCS Bowl.
Mississippi State Tight End Justin Johnson (6’4 238) had a fantastic day catching the ball. For a bigger guy, Johnson moves really well and did a great job in the route running department as well. He seemed really comfortable out there in space, reading coverage well on the fly and working himself open. During the 1-on-1 periods, I don’t recall seeing a pass that was thrown his way hit the ground. Needless to say, he’s checking off a lot of boxes here in Daytona Beach.
WR – Jaelan Austin (6’2 205), TCU: Austin was money all practice long, catching everything thrown his way. I loved how he consistently attacked the ball when it was in the air. Whether it was going up high, or reaching out in front, or snatching it away from the defender, Austin came up 100% every time.
OT – Benjamin Knox (6’6 315), Colorado State: Impressive show of technical skills by the former CSU Ram. Knox uses his long arms to stymie defenders and was able to keep his feet moving effectively enough to run defenders out of the club in 1-on-1s.
QB – Tanner Mangum (6’3 210), BYU: I thought Mangum threw the ball really well yesterday. Very impressive short-to-intermediate accuracy as well. Talking with him after practice, he realizes how big this week is for him and is primed to take advantage of the opportunity.
OL – Breontae Matthews (6’4 330), North Carolina A&T: Matthews got off to a great start yesterday during 1-on-1s. He has tremendous core strength and is able to absorb and redirect defenders with ease. He’s coming off of a really strong week in Fort Worth, Texas at the College Gridiron Showcase.
OL – Shamdu Nalls (6’4 315), Virginia Union: Nalls was strong in his performance during the National Bowl back in December, which got him the invite back for the Tropical Bowl. He just consistently wins. He’s got very good feet and quick hands to reposition himself to get the block.
WR – Quinn McElfresh (6’3 220), Mississippi Valley State: McElfresh has a ton of smoothness about his game. He’s able to fluidly get in-and-out of his breaks and does a great job of tracking the ball. The FCS Bowl was a big showcase for him and he’s already off to a great start here in Daytona.
CB – DeMarcus Owens (5’9 194), New Mexico State: Compete. Compete. Compete. That’s what I like about Owens’ performance yesterday. He’s is able to stay in the hip pocket of the receiver and gets his head around to find the ball. No reception will come easy with him in coverage.
DB – Kurron Ramsey (6’3 195), Alabama State: Another strong start for an FCS Bowl Alum. Ramsey has the length that scouts covet and is able to use it really well to his advantage. I’m very impressed with how he’s able to close quickly on the ball for a taller defensive back.
WR – Ryan Schadler (5’11 192), Kansas: Schadler’s explosiveness and quickness gave defensive backs fits yesterday in both 1-on-1s and in team drills. He might be the most explosive wideout on the American Team, or at least it looked that way yesterday. He also catches the ball extremely well.
DB – Joshua Simmons (6’0 190), Limestone College: Simmons is a bigger corner with ball skills. He uses his hands well to stay with the receiver without getting grabby. Plus he’s able to get his head around and find the football. This will be the 2nd of three all-star games for Simmons as he’s off to the NFLPA game after the Tropical Bowl.
WR/TE/RB vs LB/DB 1-on-1s