O-D Bowl coaches analyze talent

Both teams are full of talent for Saturday's Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, and the coaches from both sides got their first looks at the players during double session practices Tuedsay. Both coaches chime in on what they like about their teams, and also a few areas of concern. Also, a Georgia commit had to pull out of the game with a collarbone injury.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. --- West coach Tom Walsh saw receivers Kenny Stills and Paul Richardson make a few nice catches, and saw the pure pocket-passing ability of 6-foot-5 quarterback Pete Thomas to quickly realize he has plenty of talent at the skill positions.

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East team coach Ron Hudson didn't get much of a look at his offensive and defensive linemen, but he believes running back Mustafa Greene, receiver Adrian Coxson and his tight ends give his squad versatility offensively.

Tuesday's double sessions, the first day of practice of the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, gave both head coaches a chance to evaluate their wealth of talent, but neither are sure how it will translate into playing Saturday's game.

"This is the fastest game they're going to be in, so far, in their high school careers,'' said Walsh, a former college head coach and assistant on two Super Bowl teams with the Raiders. "These are the best at their positions, and they're going to Oklahoma and Clemson, they're going to Notre Dame and Washington and Stanford and USC.

"For them, the most interesting things is for them to see how they adjust to the speed of the game here. This is the next step in the maturation process in going from high school to college.''


Brennan Clay
Walsh said he liked the dynamic of his skill players, led by a receiving corps of Stills, an Oklahoma commit, and Richardson, who is headed to UCLA. Running back and Oklahoma commit Brennan Clay also had a nice beginning to catch Walsh's eyes.

"They've got all the skills, and they're going to make somebody a very happy college coach,'' Walsh said. "It's going to depend on how they adjust to the speed in college.''

Quarterback should be a versatile position for the West.

Thomas had the most consistent day, battling through a windy goal-post rattling morning session to earn praise from Walsh.

Walsh said he is basically combing concepts of two playbooks to run a pro-style offense for Colorado State commit Thomas, and a spread philosophy for Texas commit Case McCoy and Terrance Broadway, a Houston commit.

"All three are very skilled, but all three are a little bit different,'' Walsh said. "Peter is more of a pro-style pocket-type, and Case and Terrance can move. They're a little bit smaller, more mobility. We have something for everybody.''

The defensive backs were led by UCLA commit Shaquille Richardson, who outperformed the rest of his teammates. Richardson's future college rival Dion Bailey, a USC commit, had an interception in what was otherwise a non-descript day for the defensive backs.

"It's an interesting collection of talent,'' Walsh said. "But you wish you had more time before the game because they all have so many talents, and so many skills, that we've designed things for each of their positions.''

The pressing concern on the East side is in the backfield, beginning at quarterback.

The absence of Rutgers commit and quarterback Chas Dodd because of a non-throwing shoulder injury created opportunities at the quarterback spot, but Hudson was waiting for Notre Dame commit Andrew Hendrix and uncommitted Dylan Favre and D.J. Clower to make an impact. Instead, inconsistency was the predominant theme of the two practices.

"We're struggling a little bit there,'' said Hudson, who has 33 years of coaching experience, including stints at Cal, Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame and Ohio State. "That's why we've got to isolate and ask them to do the things they know how to do.''


Adrian Coxson
The East is also trying to figure out depth issues at running back after Georgia commit Ken Malcome pulled out of the game because of a right collarbone injury. Malcome said he broke his collarbone last month, and was only able to participate early in the morning practice before pain got the better of him.

It leaves Greene, who looked explosive, and Vanderbilt commit Jerell Priester as the lone two running backs. The lack of a fullback on the roster is causing LSU commit Cameron Fordham to pull double duty as a tight end and fullback.

Fordham also made an impression as a pass catcher, as did tight end and Virginia Tech commit Jerome Lewis.

The best receiver of the afternoon was Coxson, a Penn State commit. Ted Meline ran some nice morning routes and added a few nice catches, including a one-handed one near the sideline, but sat out the end of the afternoon session with cramping in his right calf.

Also, Alabama commit Blake Sims came into the game as a defensive back, but was shifted to receiver quickly and looked good, albeit unpolished.

"It looks like we've got skill at wide receiver,'' Hudson said. "We've got good backs, but we've only got two of them. I really like the tight ends.''

Cornerback Darius Robinson, who is Clemson-bound, had a standout morning while showing good closing speed and cover ability. But he sat out part of the afternoon session because of tightness in his legs.

Uncommitted Tony Grimes looked comfortable playing safety and cornerback.

Hudson also said center Caleb Farris, a Virginia Tech pledge, and Alabama-bound guard Austin Shepherd stood out on the first day.


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