U.S. Army All-American Bowl: West Practice

SAN ANTONIO - As West players were loosening up during the first practice in preparation for the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, receiver Terrance Toliver wished aloud that he would've like to have had Jimmy Clausen or Ryan Mallett as his high school quarterback.

"I didn't have a quarterback," Scout.com's top-ranked receiver told Mallett.

The West clearly has the two best quarterbacks going into Saturday's all-star game to be played at the Alamo Dome.

Clausen, a Notre Dame commit, and Mallett, a Michigan commit, are Scout.com's top ranked quarterbacks, and their talents were on display at the beautiful Blossom Athletic Center.

West coaches had the quarterbacks and receivers begin their acclimation with timing routes. Receivers ran outs, ins, hooks, curls and slants.

Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis won't have to spend much time on Clausen's mechanics. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Westlake Village, Calif., product has a great release and puts the ball on the money. In the 30 or 40 throws I saw, Clausen is pretty close to a human jug-ball machine. Receivers caught the ball in stride, or the ball hit them between the numbers. I can only remember one bad ball on the first seven-on-seven play.

Clausen doesn't look physically imposing.

Mallett on the other hand is physically imposing. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Texarkana, Texas product is big and throws rockets.

"It looks like you could throw 120 (mph)," Toliver said.

When Clausen and Mallet were throwing together, I could tell Clausen wanted no part of catching those balls. Apparently the receivers didn't either, as a few of Mallet's balls were dropped.

Notre Dame recruit Matt Romine will be responsible for blocking those two signal-callers. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Tulsa, Okla., product was lining up at guard. He fit in well physically with the rest of the offensive linemen.

The offensive line was working on zone-blocking schemes. There would be a discussion following every rep, and Romine appeared to have a clear understanding of what was going on. He was almost always finishing sentences the coach was starting.

While seven-on-seven was going on, the offensive and defensive lines were going at it. Romine and company had a tough time handling Everson Griffen and the rest of the guys from busting through the line. In this drill, the defensive line always has an early edge until the offensive line can build some continuity.

Romine will announce Saturday between Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Miami.

At, 6-foot-8, it was hard not to notice Ryan Miller. The 280-pounder also looked really good. The Irish recruited him, but Miller will go to Colorado.

The last player of Irish interest on the West is Michael Williams out of Ventura, Calif. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound cornerback might be smaller than his listed measurements. In seven-on-seven, Williams looked fast but a little choppy when changing directions. He is also getting a chance to return kicks.

Joe McKnight, who told Irish Eyes yesterday he wasn't visiting Notre Dame, was also returning kicks. The running back looks like quite the talent, being able to change directions very well.

Looking for players on both kickoff coverage and kickoff return, everyone got a chance. Some were even forced.

"Where's Jimmy?!," one coach yelled. "Get your helmet and get out here! You're not in California anymore!

Clausen covered one kickoff with a big smile on his face.

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