Miller Safrit: The most impressive guy so far on defense is hands down Ricky Sapp. Sapp has a great inside move while the offensive tackle is still regaining his balance and then he spins to the outside for a rush on the quarterback. Still a little thin for a defensive end at 210, once he hits the college training table he will blossom as he hits the weightroom hard. Second on the list - Dekoda Watson. Don't be surprised if Virginia Tech and a slew of other schools follow South Carolina in offering Watson this week.
On offense, Carl Johnson took the early lead, but the guy that could dominate the game for North Carolina is Ryan Taylor. He has really picked up his game in the last two practices, and he is catching everything, including a pass where he reached his arms over each of Kendric Burney's shoulder pads to catch the ball.
MS: Chris was offered by Clemson last night and committed to them tonight. As for why State may not have offered, it really just depends on what you want in a lineman. Personally I am not a big fan of how his knees kiss when he stands, but there is a great NFL player that overcame that as well - Bruce Smith.
Q: tarheelcoach North Carolina Stock "Stars" up and stock "stars" down at Shrine Bowl??
MS: Stocks up - Hakeem Nicks and Dekoda Watson were both top ten players coming into the weekend, but they are pushing for a higher rating. Ricky Sapp could come out of the weekend as the number one player in South Carolina, but Clifton is playing as a defensive tackle and he was starting to come into his own before spraining his ankle this morning. I think I will hold judgement until the two go against each other in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
MS: Coming into the week, NC State was the team to worry about, but Dennis continues to say he is firm to Wake Forest. However, that could be again tested as the buzz is that Virginia Tech will offer the big tight end. However, that offer could go to Foxy Foxworth as the next great Hokie tight end. Foxy looks a lot like current Hokie starter Jeff King out there. Thick, stocky guy that can block and catch everything in sight.
Q: wayno North Carolina We have heard next to nothing about Johnny White, of Asheville, and a UNC verbal. Is this due to injury, or is he just not in the mix for a starting job?
MS: Johnny was pushing hard for a starting spot, but it looks like Norman Whitley was going to win out. That said, Johnny will not play in the game and has been replaced by Michael Angram, a running back from East Henderson.
Q: packsportsfan NC State How does Josh Johnson look in comparison to the other WR's? Thanks!
MS: I think he looks great out there. I asked Raeshon McNeil who the top two wide receivers were for North Carolina. McNeil, one of the top guys this week, picked Johnson and Hakeem Nicks. He said that Johnson is a physical wide receiver and a great route runner.
MS: This is my second week watching Nate, having scouted him in the state championships last week. Brandon Spikes and Matt Woodlief are better at this point in time, but Nate's best days are ahead of him. He really flies around to the ball when he can read the run, and would fit well into the Pack's defense. Unfortunately, he was hurt this morning in practice when he broke his thumb, but as a tough competitor he will be back tomorrow and will play on Saturday.
Dress For Success: On a very cold, windy day, players were scrambling to get as much skin covered as possible. With his parents coming to see him tomorrow, Hakeem Nicks plans to request a few layers of clothing for practice the rest of the week. Perhaps he could borrow from teammate Devven Sutton, who appears to be the most ready for the cold weather, with a full face Balaclava, essentially a full face warmer that allows him to see the field.
"Nose, lips, face, it feels scrumptious," Sutton said, though he added that he did not need anything for his legs. "I've got a lot of meat on my legs, and they are usually moving so they are pretty warm."
Not everyone came ready for the cold. South Carolina running back Chris Massey went with a make-shift version of Sutton's face warmer by wrapping a t-shirt around his face and leaving only two inches of skin open to the harsh wind, for his eyes. It apparently worked as Massey has started to come on to push hard for a starting job.
The Replacements: With the injuries that have hit both the South Carolina and North Carolina rosters, both coaching staffs are having to bring in alternates to fill voids.
Before the week started, Kendric Burney was called in to replace Tavorris Jolly, who was injured Saturday in the NCHSAA 2A State Championship Game. Johnny White, who also played Saturday, has found his high ankle sprain unbearable forcing the addition of Michael Angram, a 5-foot-8 157-pound tailback from East Flat Rock (N.C.) East Henderson.
"They called me yesterday [Tuesday] and I got here late last night," said Angram. "[They told me] to go along with the running backs and try to learn the plays. I'm excited to be here."
With Jake Johnson breaking his foot, South Carolina called up linebacker Adam Jones from South Florence. The staff might have to make yet another roster addition as Scout.com five-star defensive lineman Clifton Geathers sat out the second practice Wednesday with a sprained ankle.
Setting The Lineup: With three days of practice complete, the Sandlappers of South Carolina are starting to establish Saturday's starting lineup.
On the other side of the trenches, Adam Patterson, James McLamore, and Clifton Geathers have seen time as "first teamers." However, with Geathers's injury keeping him on the mend, Chris Donaldson could fill in for the 6-foot-7 270-pound five-star recruit.
In the secondary, Prince Miller and Brian Bradford should be fixtures at cornerback, while Nickolas Prochack and Robert Reeder man the starting safety spots.
Keeping the Rotation: While some units on both rosters begin to settle in with its starters, there are quite a few areas that continue to rotate players in and out.
For North Carolina, the difference in talent level between players at defensive line, wide receiver, running back, and quarterback is so minute that the coaches are finding difficulty in designating starters.
Just like their cross border rivals, South Carolina is still figuring out their quarterback, running back, and wide receiver situations. The Sandlappers are also rotating their inside linebackers in an effort to field the best run stoppers come Saturday.