E-W Shrine Notes: Day 1Monday, January 14, 2013
Back to back practices kicked off the East-West Shrine Week, and although the attendees were padless (except for shoulder pads on the East), a few observations could be gleaned from the event’s first day. This installment of practice notes will be brief, but expect more lengthy posts throughout the week.
The East squad possesses a few physically imposing prospects. First is Devin Taylor, a tight hipped defensive end. His best chance of success is to fill out his frame to win with power. Taylor has length, but projecting if a player can add weight is always tricky. Next is D.C. Jefferson, an underused tight end from Rutgers. Last year, Chase Ford put on a show by consistently hauling in targets down the seam, and Jefferson or the West’s Zach Sudfeld could do the same.
No quarterback was overly accurate on the East side, even when throwing against air. When Colby Cameron shortens his release, the velocity on his passes drastically increases. As we’ve seen in the past, throwing motions are difficult to alter, and even though Cameron throws a great endzone fade or lofted vertical route, this more compact release would serve him well.
There are no fullbacks (or long snappers) on either roster, and although it is early, it appears the East coaches may ask their running backs to occasionally line up in a three point stance and lead block. Zac Stacy, Ray Graham, and Montel Harris are not built to play that role. Speaking of Graham, he has shed the knee brace that limited him at times during the season and showed zero hesitation when cutting upfield.
The most notable surprise came in the form of East safety coach Marlon McCree, a former NFL defensive back. McCree was very vocal in the back half, complementing players who succeeded in accomplishing their assignment and coaching those who didn’t. He repeatedly called out NC State’s Earl Wolff, Florida’s Josh Evans, and Richmond’s Cooper Taylor in a positive way.
The West did a bit less today, and they continued the streak of padless practices on St. Petersburg High School’s field, a tradition started by Brad Childress last year. Yes, Chilly’s team did not even practice once in full pads
UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria left during the early stages of practice after apparently injuring his hip attempting to dive for a catch. Two players that stood out were Illinois corner Terry Hawthorne and Texas A&M running back Christine Michael. Hawthorne is long and lean, but plucked the ball out of the air while smoothly transitioning from his back pedal into a run. We will certainly see more in one on one coverage drills. Michael had more touches in practice than he did all season. As I mentioned in the preview, Michael is a very talented runner with a long list of injuries and was stuck in Kevin Sumlin’s doghouse. He showed nice vision on one cut back run and is already taking aggressive angles.
Finally, Howard linebacker Keith Pough, my top defensive player, likes to talk. A lot. And I like talking about him, but that is for later in the week.