Senior Bowl: South Observations
The pride of the South, at least when it comes to the South squad at this year's Senior Bowl, is the defensive line. That was the position of strength at Monday's South practice in Mobile, Ala., and topping the charts was Georgia DT John Jenkins, who had the best practice of defensive linemen. The 358-pound nose tackle routinely took on double teams and still made an impact, even against all-star caliber offensive linemen. At one point he tossed Kentucky's Larry Warford, a 343-pound offensive lineman, aside and made a one-handed tackle on the running back trying to squeeze through a shrinking gap. Jenkins is simply so big and strong. He admitted that he needs to shed some weight, but he's got a lot to prove this week after a great start in both passing the look test and dominating one-on-ones. Along with Jenkins, Everett Dawkins, Ezekial Ansah and Malliciah Goodman each impressed on several occasions during team drills. • The best catch of the day was one of the first ones. Former Baylor receiver Terrance Williams created just enough separation with his defender on a go route and made a diving catch about 40 yards down the left sideline during one-on-one drills. Oklahoma alumnus Landry Jones delivered the strike. • Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope dropped two passes that should have been easy catches. • Williams will garner the most wide receiver headlines, but Tavarres King's (Georgia) shiftiness and quickness after the catch and Quinton Patton's (Louisiana Tech) strong hands and route-running made them the top wideouts on the first day. Each seemingly didn't lose a rep all afternoon. • Both Jones and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson looked sharp in Monday's practice, with each showing enough arm strength and accuracy to play in the NFL. Florida State's E.J. Manuel, the third QB on the South squad, struggled with accuracy and didn't step into his passes consistently enough. Jones was more impressive in the early portion, then Wilson closed the gap as practice progressed. Manuel was clearly a step behind the other two today in terms of consistency and timeliness with the ball. • Alabama LB Nico Johnson was good all day, no matter the drill or station. He was good in the box, disciplined as always after diagnosing the play, and he was better against the pass than usually credited. Johnson got to his drops quicker than most and seemed comfortable no matter his role on a given play. • San Diego State cornerback Leon McFadden came away with an early interception when his receiver slipped on an out route and McFadden stayed with the ball. He also knocked away a pass from Jones later in practice. McFadden was a standout among the cornerbacks because of his instincts with the ball in the air. He seemed to always be around it on Day One. • Georgia Southern safety J.J. Wilcox had an interception toward the end of practice. • Players arrived in Mobile on Sunday, but Monday was the first day of practices, with the South squad practicing from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Fairhope Stadium and the North squad from 2:30-4:30 at Ladd Peebles Stadium. On Tuesday and Wednesday, both teams will practice at Ladd Peebles (where Saturday's game will be held), with the North practicing in the morning and South in the afternoon. • Tennessee-Martin defensive lineman Montori Hughes didn't practice Monday and had his left foot in a boot. He was limited to an observer. • As has become an annual tradition, Alabama head coach Nick Saban rode onto the track at Fairhope Stadium in an SUV and was quickly surrounded by media for a five-minute interview, espousing the talents of his former Crimson Tide players that are participating in the Senior Bowl. Alabama has six players in the all-star game this year.