Tuesday Shrine Bowl Notebook

Midway through the true practice sessions for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, six players are starting to emerge from the pack as true playmakers on the field that could also get it done on Saturdays very soon.

Day 1 Stories:
Tops on that list is an easy assessment. Ricky Sapp, a five star defensive end from Bamberg, S.C., has to make the move to an outside linebacker this week. In a role filled by future NFL first-round pick Mario Williams in the past, Sapp shows that he knows not only how to pin his ears back, but at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds he could be the most athletic player on either team.

When the South Carolina offense begins its normal four-wide formation, Sapp has the daunting task for a defensive end to cover the slot receiver in man coverage. Perhaps event better than most safeties, Sapp sticks to the top level wide receivers like glue and has even been known to intercept a pass or two.

The number two player thus far is also the number one player in North Carolina, Carl Johnson from Durham. Normally thought to not have the intensity in every game, something has clicked on with Johnson this week and he has started to dominate the defensive tackles much bigger than he is normally accustomed to face. He is starting to move very well, and he is also starting to realize some of that untapped potential the Florida Gators are wanting to see.

Deunta Williams
Deunta Williams is having about as much fun as anybody this week, even though he is playing the linebacker position for the first time in his life. The Jacksonville, N.C. four-star prospect loves the ability to make more hits than he normally gets as a safety for White Oak, but should we expect him to make the move to defense when he goes to North Carolina? Williams answer was "nope".

Prince Miller is an unnoticed figure on the South Carolina team, but that can be credited to the quarterbacks seeing tight coverage and throwing the other way. Prince still has the ability to close hard on the ball, and he has the best hips of any cornerbacks playing in the game. Watch out for him on special teams this Saturday.

D.J. Moore
Another versatile player that has started impressed quite a few coaches for South Carolina is Broome's D.J. Moore, a Vanderbilt commitment. While he may not have the huge size you want from a college-bound athlete, he is simply open on pass plays with great routes and he is one of the shiftiest guys on the Sandlappers' squad, making quick cuts and dicing through defenses.

Raeshon McNeil is arguably the best defensive back in what looks to be one of the most impressive secondaries North Carolina has ever fielded. The 6-foot, 175-pounder has shown an ability to lockdown just about every wide out the North Carolina offense throws at him including Scout.com four-star prospect Crezdon Butler and three-star guys Hakeem Nicks and Ryan Taylor. McNeil, who committed to Notre Dame in August, is also a frontrunner for punt return duties.
Turning heads: With coaches from over thirty colleges coming through, there are several players' names hitting the "who is that" and "don't touch him" circuit. South Carolina has two of those players in Dekoda Watson and Foxy Foxworth. Watson really looks the part of an outside linebacker, and any questions coaches had about him playing in space have been answered with the

Foxy Foxworth
defense placing him there for this all-star game. Watson has toned up his frame since we last saw him at the Scout.com combine in Durham, and his game speed is faster now as well.

Foxworth fills out his pads very well, and as the only tight end on the South Carolina squad, he is able to show his ability in passing routes and run blocking very often. One college coach had to have hurt his neck snapping around fast enough to get a second look at the big athlete. Now if only offensive coordinator Bobby Bentley can get him some catches, a few college coaches could pull the trigger on an offer.

Chris Hairston
For North Carolina, Ryan Taylor and Hakeem Nicks have put on a show with their physiques and wide receiver abilities. Coaches keep wanting to hear more about who these new players are until they hear both are already committed to North Carolina.

The biggest sleeper for the North squad is Chris Hairston from Carver. There is a love-hate relationship from the coaches. Many love his size, his natural movement on the field, and his power coming off the ball. Others point to his shape and inability to grow. Either way, he will get an offer to play for a major D1-A school, and the question then becomes "Who was right"?

Double Duties: While the majority of the players focus in on one particular position, a handful of players on both rosters will see time on both sides of the ball.

Devven Sutton
For South Carolina, Miller will be the Sandlappers shutdown corner and also see time at tailback.

On North Carolina's roster, Dennis Godfrey will see significant time at tight end, but also finds himself in the defensive tackle rotation. Expected to make an impact at both linebacker and fullback, Devven Sutton probably feels the most pressure of the double duty players.

"I have to play both ways so right now I'm switching up practices right now – one day play offense, one day play defense," said Sutton. "Right now its hard, because they add new things almost every practice and I'm trying to switch."
Very Special Teams: On North Carolina's kick return teams, the coaching staff has decided to try some new things. While the starting kick returners are Norman Whitley and Kendric Burney, potential starting quarterback O.C. Wardlow is the backup return man.

Even more bizarre is the placement of 6-foot-6, 345-pound Johnson and 6-foot-1, 300-pound Ricardo Crawford on the line in front of the kick returners. Scott Gunn, a 6-foot-3 260-pounder, will backup Crawford and Johnson.

McNeill, Chris Dalton, Crezdon Butler, and Rico Bell are auditioning for punt return duties.
Sleeping on the job: Watson has proven himself to the college coaches as well, and his waiting to show his talent at the Shrine Bowl level paid off with a scholarship offer.

"South Carolina offered me a scholarship. Coach Nix left me a message on my phone yesterday on my phone. I didn't get to it because I was sleeping," Watson said. Fortunately college coaches are not sleeping, and there is a buzz around the Dorman High practice fields that more could be on the way. The stock is rising for this supposed "Tweener".
Happy Birthday to You: The only player for either the North Carolina or South Carolina squads wearing knee braces is

Garrett Anderson
South Carolina offensive lineman Garrett Anderson. The projected starting left tackle came close to not playing in the game when a player decided to take a cheap shot at his knee this year.

"You can watch the film and see that he was trying to go at my knee," Anderson said. However he was able to brush the blow off pretty quickly thanks to the metal on his legs. So why exactly did he go with the braces?

"We asked South Carolina what they thought, and they really recommended it but knew it was sort of a high price," Anderson added. "So, basically for a birthday present, I got these thinking I would rather spend it on these and keep my scholarship than have to risk it all year."

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