Scouting the Shrine Bowl

Pack Pride breaks down several of the standouts at last weekend's Shrine Bowl.

North Carolina rallied twice in the second half but a final heave as time expired fell incomplete and the Tarheels fell to South Carolina, 28-23. Pack Pride was on hand and breaks down several of the standouts from the NC squad.

North Carolina alternated quarterbacks throughout the first half and could never find an offensive rhythm. When they finally settled on Jalan McClendon in the second half, the Tarheel offense came alive.

McClendon has all the physical tools you're looking for in a quarterback. He throws a catchable, tight spiral with good velocity. His accuracy and command of the offense with just a few days of preparation were good and he showed the ability to make a variety of throws. McClendon looked especially sharp on out routes and throws across the middle. He completed 16 of 26 passes and that number would've been better were it not for five drops, including a touchdown throw to Chris Register in the back of the end zone.

McClendon is not fast so he doesn't present much in the way of a running threat. He does use his size and agility to escape pressure and extend plays, however. The only weakness we saw in the passing game was his tendency to lock in on one receiver. On a couple of occasions this could've resulted in interceptions but both passes were dropped by the defense.

Perhaps McClendon's most impressive play of the day came on the final snap when he threw a 70-yard bomb on the last play of the game. Speaking with several regional and national analysts that were in the press box, they all raved about McClendon's performance and upside.  

The Tarheels boasted several talented receivers so you knew it was unlikely that one would necessarily stand out head and shoulders above the rest.

Maurice Trowell made the most of his opportunities, finishing with four catches for 26 yards. As has been the case every time we've watched him, Trowell displays solid, reliable hands and finds ways to create space to make the catch. He made a beautiful catch across the middle late in the game for 22 yards.

Austin Proehl is a somewhat slightly smaller version of Trowell. Physically he's not going to blow you away but he's the type guy that goes to Wake Forest and drives you crazy for three years except in this case, Proehl is going to Chapel Hill. He did have one drop on an out cut but other than that was solid- ran crisp, sharp routes and finished with three catches for 40 yards.

Physically, Trevion Thompson looks big time. The only negative we can find is the fact he doesn't have elite speed. With that out of the way, everything else is exactly what you're looking for in a go-to receiver.

Thompson is a superb route runner. In fact, he's one of the better prospects in that aspect of the game we've seen recently. He's quicker than fast and uses that to create separation. He has great hands but like Proehl, did have one drop. He more than made up for it later on a leaping catch for a first down. Thompson finished with five catches for 37 yards.

Like McClendon, RB Elijah Hood really didn't get it going until the coaches settled on him as being "the" guy at running back in the second half. Rotating in and out in the first half, Hood totaled just 12 yards rushing through the first two quarters.

Once he was able to get into a rhythm, Hood made his mark for the Tarheel offense. He didn't get a whole lot of help from his offensive line so much of the yardage gained was on his own. Hood is powerfully built and shows tremendous instincts and vision. What sets him apart is his speed. You don't realize how fast Hood is until you see defenders taking bad angles on him. He is reminiscent of some of the old school running backs that would line up in the I and get 30+ carries a game.

Will Richardson has been a hot topic among NC State fans recently and for good reason. He was probably the most impressive offensive lineman for the NC squad although it wasn't a star-studded unit by any stretch.

Physically, Richardson has the frame you're looking for in a tackle. Personally, I feel he's better run blocking than in pass protection although he was adequate. He'll have to continue working on his foot speed and agility but all the pieces are in place for a solid tackle down the road.

Germaine Pratt led the Tarheels in tackles on Saturday and seemed to be around the ball all day. He finished with eight tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass breakup. We're not sure that Pratt ever figured out what he was supposed to be doing on the field but he did find a way to get to the ball which was pretty impressive. I thought he struggled at times out in coverage but some of that seemed to come from uncertainty. Personally I think he's better suited for outside linebacker. Pratt also likes to talk a lot on the field and I suspect that's something that will be addressed when he gets to college.

Marcelias Sutton was a late add on to the Shrine Bowl roster and played at safety. The thing we love about Sutton is his desire and effort. He finished with three tackles and a tackle for loss and we never noticed him get beat on a pass play. Physically he doesn't really look like a corner although he was very productive at that position in high school. He very well may be better suited as a slot receiver or running back in college.

Cayson Collins was a player that State recruited hard but lost to UNC. He was probably the most impressive linebacker for North Carolina. Collins moves extremely well in space and just has a tremendous nose for the ball. He had just three tackles but all three were tackles for loss and he also had a forced fumble.

We talked about Nathan Dalton earlier in the week as a guy that State was evaluating. He had an up and down day at right guard. The Pack needs a tackle and I'm not sure Dalton has the foot speed you're looking for at that position. He looked more like an interior prospect and a personal foul penalty didn't help his cause any.

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