2009 Texas Vs The Nation Day Two Nation Practice Report
by Sigmund Bloom and Cecil Lammey on 01/27/09
Today the Nation practice was the one that felt off and out of synch. The wind was strong at times, but it was also gusting for the morning Texas practice. The defense seemed to have the upper hand in 11 on 11ís, especially against the run.
Curtis Painter(Purdue) - Painterís quick decisions, quick setup, and efficient release stood out again today. He sees the field with clarity and puts decent zip on his short and intermediate passes. We havenít seen him throw deep too often, but thatís partially because heís very good at throwing quickly to an open receiver when a corner is giving him too much cushion. Painter had some stretches where he was off, but when he was on, he was spot on - especially on play action fakes, when he sometimes displayed a great sense of exactly where the receiver would be in his route.
Mike Teel(Rutgers) - Teel was one of the more patient QBs here, going through his reads deliberately. His arm strength is average at best, but he does put good touch on the short stuff. He seems to be a very limited upside QB.
Drew Willy(Buffalo) - We love Willy because unlike most QBs in all-star practices, he loves to test the defense deep. He reads the safeties, and if theyíre not giving deep help, he throws a high arcing deep ball to give the wide receiver a chance to make the play (and the DB, which is just as illuminating for us). Willyís gunslinger mentality is obvious, and we think itís more encouraging when a QB is not afraid to make mistakes than when he is too cautious. Willy also put good zip on his short and intermediate throws. Between his aggressiveness and solid mechanics, heíll make a good project QB.
Jason Boltus(Hartwick) - After two days of watching Boltus, itís clear - he throws with the most velocity of any QB weíve seen in the last three weeks. Unfortunately, he even throws frozen ropes on checkdowns and other short passes. He is relatively accurate with his passes and he knows he can throw into small windows because of his ball speed. Boltus has not demonstrated the ability to throw good touch passes or drop the ball into spots.
All of the Nation RBs had a rough time showing us anything in 11 on 11 because the defensive line was controlling the line of scrimmage.
Brannan Southerland(Georgia) - Southerland had a good day as a receiver, adjusting well to poorly thrown balls. He caught most everything thrown his way, but he wasnít always a hands catcher.
Yonus Davis(San Jose State) - Davis is very reminiscent of Cory Ross, a Nebraska RB we watched at the 2006 Shrine Game who is currently a free agent, but had a nice season finale with the Ravens in 2007. Heís built very low to the ground - Maurice Jones-Drew low - but he does use that compact build to make sudden cuts, losing little speed in and out of his breaks. Davis is also a nice little receiver, adjusting well to balls thrown outside of his frame. Heís got great feet through trash and should be able to at least have a career similar to Ross.
Branden Ore(West Liberty State) - Ore had a terrific one handed catch, and heís clearly a natural hands catcher, but he had to be corrected by Nation head coach Howard Schnellenberger because he had too much stutter in his routes. Schnellenberger even used Canadian RB Jamall Lee, who is learning the ropes of American football this week, as an example for Ore to copy.
Anthony Kimble(Stanford) - Kimble is reminding us of James Johnson, a running back from Kansas State who played in this game last year and got on the field for the Bengals this year. Like Johnson, Kimble has a wide receiver build (high cut, narrow hips) and heís an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Kimble showed terrific concentration hauling in a few balls he bobbled at first. He also showed good vision and moves in traffic, but he does run upright, so heís easy to bring down. Kimble has gotten blown up a few times as a pass blocker, so that part of his 3rd down back game is missed.
Conredge Collins(Pittsburgh) - Itís too bad for Collins that the west coast offense is out of vogue, because heíd be a perfect WCO fullback. Collins is very quick in his routes and an outstanding receiver out of the backfield. Heís also a good blocker, but not a lead blocking slobberknocker. His versatility will be valuable at the next level, but he might have to bulk up from his current weight of 225 to find a role in the NFL.
Dobson Collins(Gardner-Webb) - We like Collins because he does all of the little things very well. He sinks his hips well in routes and clearly has worked on route precision and efficiency. He has a good burst off the line, quickly eating up the cushion, and good speed in and out of his breaks. Collins also has a second gear to separate deep, and heís not afraid to go over the middle. His hands are soft and consistent and he can catch balls thrown outside of his frame. Heís not an exceptional athlete, but heís good enough to make it if he stays devoted to mastering his craft.
John Matthews(San Diego) - Matthews is very quick, with good hands, and a great feel for finding the soft spot in the zone. He completely broke down Jahi Word-Daniels on one great route, and his loose hips flip open instantly to go into run after catch mode. Matthews keeps DBs on their heels with his good burst off the line, and he looks like an advanced receiver.
Nick Moore(Toledo) - Moore had a rough day today. He was outmuscled out of a few close balls, and he seemed to hear footsteps on a catch over the middle that got broken up. Moore looked especially slow in his release. He did flash a few good high point catches that highlight the best part of his game.
Jamarko Simmons(Western Michigan) - Simmons started slow with a few drops of easy passes, but he got going in 11 on 11s, with one great deep catch down the sideline in tight quarters where he used his size and strength to defeat the smaller defensive back. Heís not sudden, but his moves in his routes are effective enough to create separation once heís up to speed. It does take longer than some of the smaller wideouts for Simmons to get up to speed, but he still eats up the cushion fast enough to put pressure on the corner. Simmons also squares back to the QB on short and intermediate routes, providing a big target.
Jaison Williams(Oregon) - Williams flashed great moves and speed for a huge wide receiver, but his hands, routes, and ability to turn quickly and locate the ball in flight were inconsistent and he looks like heíll continue to be a disappointing tease as he enters the next phase of his career.
Jason Chery(Louisiana-Lafayette) - Chery was fighting the ball at first and but eventually got on track and made similar plays to the dynamic catches he posted on Monday. Cheryís speed is good and he can get open deep and finish the deal with good catches once the ball arrives.
Ryan Purvis(TE- Boston College) - Purvis continues to be the best hands catcher here and he adjusts to the ball in flight very well - rotating his body like John Carlson when the ball is thrown behind him. He also showed good handfighting in his routes and release and the ability to push off subtly to get open in close quarters.
Davon Drew(TE- East Carolina) - Drew hit the deck a lot today, sprawling to make attempts at errant passes or trying to make tough grabs in traffic. His athleticism is still apparent, getting off the line quickly and into his routes, and he did come down with a few of those contested balls.
Rich Ohrnberger(OL-Penn State) - Ohrnberger gave max effort on every snap, just like he did yesterday, and he showed especially good ankle flex to absorb the pass rush. Heís not a high upside prospect, but guys like Ohrnberger hang around the league for a long time.
Garrett Reynolds(OT-North Carolina) - Reynolds still lacks the staggering punch and quick feet you want in a left tackle prospect, but he still moved pretty well for a huge man and absorbed the rush well when he faced up to the pass rush. He did struggle against straight speed rushers.
CJ Davis(C/G-Pitt) - Davis was strong at the point of attack and moved very well getting downfield to make blocks on screen passes and running plays, but he didnít always locate someone to block.
TJ Lang(G/T-Eastern Michigan) - Lang had a few outstanding plays when he just dismissed his opponent, and one especially great play, disposing Pierre Walters into the backfield as the running back was going by, then moving quickly to help Conredge Collins seal the edge so the back could get to the corner.
Khalif Mitchell(DT-East Carolina) - Mitchell had a less exciting day today, unless you count the time he also got into a fight with an offensive lineman. His strength and energy is eye-catching, but he was getting beaten consistently because of a lack of technique and leverage.
Terrance Knighton(DT-Temple) - Knighton again pushed back his opponent in the pit like he was on ice skates, but we did see him leave the field with a trainer part way through the practice.
Demonte Bolden(DT-Tennessee) - Bolden had a much better day today, penetrating vs the run and pass, and displaying a great motor throughout.
Derek Walker(DE-Illinois) - Walker was often the guy beating Garrett Reynolds with the speed rush, and he also flashed unstoppable handfighting technique to get free on a few reps.
Will Johnson(DT-Michigan) - Johnson is a try hard guy who gives max effort on every play even though he doesnít hold up well at the point of attack. He does have an uncanny knack for getting his hands up to disrupt passing lanes as the QB is about to release the ball and seems to project well as a 3-4 DE at the next level.
Frantz Joseph(ILB-Florida Atlantic) - Joseph is flat out fun to watch. He plays with a natural violence that would fit in with players like Ray Lewis and Jack Lambert, and heíll blow up running backs and offensive lineman with the same zest and effectiveness. He looked good against the pass today, using body position to cover faster RBs, and breaking well on the ball in flight and timing his breakups to avoid penalties.
Kevin Malast(LB-Rutgers) - Malast has shown terrific instincts flowing to the play, and fights hard, even defeating an offensive linemen double team on a screen pass. He has a nose for the ball and just seems like a guy who will catch on with good special teams play and hunger.
Antonio Appleby(ILB-Virginia) - Appleby, like Joseph, seems to relish the chance to hit offensive players. He flows well to the ballcarrier on running plays, and flies to the ball when he has a lane. Appleby has great size, but he doesnít defeat blockers as well as Joseph.
Joe Burnett(CB-Central Florida) - Burnett continues to look like a veteran among youngsters, jumping Nick Mooreís comeback way too easily (it would have been an interception if it wasnít a poorly thrown ball), and generally knowing what the wide receiver is going to do at the moment he does it. Burnett drives on the ball in flight well and always competes hard to break up passes without making plays that would draw obvious penalties. We havenít got a chance to see him return kicks and punts yet this week, but it will be a big part of Burnettís value to his eventual NFL team. Burnett is definitely one of the five or ten best players at this game.
Colt Anderson(S- Montana) - Anderson does two things well - he positions himself well to make plays while keeping receivers in front of him, and he comes up to support the run very instinctively. Anderson collected two interceptions today, one on a deflection and one on an overthrow. He was in the mix on many running plays, and his natural inclinations usually took him straight to the ball and almost never out of the play. He only goes about 190, but he throws his body around to make tackles on much larger players. Anderson will be an underdog to make it in the NFL because he might not be fast enough to be a centerfielder or big enough to be a strong safety, but his instincts are top notch.
Tony Carter(CB-Florida State) - Carter was the defensive star of the Nation practice with multiple interceptions, including one where he read the QBs eyes all the way, and a non-chalant break-up of a deep ball when Jamarko Simmons got a step on him late in the practice during 11 on 11s. Heís a gambler, but he knows when to pick his moments.
Mark Parson(CB-Ohio) - Parson had an interception on a tipped ball and generally blanketed his assignment all day. He would be standing out if it wasnít for the excellent play of Carter and Burnett.