I had an opportunity to watch Trinity last weekend against Indiana power, Cathedral. The Shamrocks didn't fail to impress.
The headliner is five-star wide receiver, James Quick. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior, lives up to his name. Quick is able to make players miss when he gets the ball in space and when he gets past the first few defenders and gets in front, he's almost impossible to catch. An example in this game was when Quick caught a short screen pass to the left side, cut between two or three defenders and ran 72 yards for a game changing touchdown.
Quick is also deceptively strong. He's not a big player, physically, but he doesn't let arm tackles bring him down. But he's not only strong, he's got soft hand as evidenced by a player where he went up high for a slightly errant ball and pulled it down with ease on the sideline, and got both feet in before falling out of bounds.
Quick is everything he's been touted to be and is the top rated player in Kentucky for a reason.
Another headlining player for the Rocks is Jason Hatcher. The defensive end has the kind of motor that makes him valuable to any team. His energy on the field is contagious. When he makes plays, his teammates feed off of it and they raise their level of play.
Hatcher's speed off the edge was difficult for Cathedral to deal with. He was very active behind the line of scrimmage, gathering four sacks in the win and making several big hits on the quarterback. Hatcher forced a big fumble in the game, when he hit the quarterback from the blindside. Cathedral adjusted by moving a more experienced tackle to Hatcher's side, but he was still drawing triple teams and allowing his teammates to make plays due to one-on-one blocking.
It's no secret why Hatcher's such a highly thought of prospect. Already 6-foot-3, 245-pounds, Hatcher could grow into a 270-pound monster at USC by the time he's a junior.
Not to be outdone by his teammate, Ryan White, a 5-foot-10 corner, was also impressive, shutting down his whole side of the field. He didn't get a lot of work, because Cathedral chose not to test him much. There were a couple of plays that they tried to drag him across the middle and he got his hand in to make a pass breakup.
White is also known as a great punt returner, but he made plays in the kick return game as well. Cathedral chose to kick their kickoffs short, and White was the designated returner in those situations. He made good returns each time and nearly broke one of them for a touchdown. His shiftiness and his general speed make him an elite return guy for the next level.
White also showed a physical side. On one play, the running back for Cathedral tried to run wide and ran towards White. The senior corner planted him into the turf, something he's known for all across the state. Vanderbilt got a good one in White.
Running back Dalyn Dawkins has several short runs during the game. Cathedral's defensive line made things difficult for the Trinity offensive line at times and keyed on the running game. But Dawkins kept pounding away with two and three yard carries, before he got a little daylight. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior busted loose for a 40 yard touchdown run, where he ran through some arm tackles before breaking free for the score.
Dawkins showed the shiftiness that we've seen on film. He also showed that he can grind out tough yardage and pound away against the defense, wearing them down, before he breaks free for the big run.
Travis Wright was also impressive for the Rocks. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound quarterback had another strong effort through the air. Wright made some throws that displayed his improved arm strength. He also made some great touch passes that he'll have to make at the next level.
Wright also showed some speed. He had to escape the Cathedral rush on occasion and he made them pay by picking up valuable yardage for his team.
I think Wright showed toughness, physical as well as mental. He had a couple of interceptions in the game, but he never stopped throwing the ball and never hung his head. He just rallied his team for the next play. He also took a couple of big hits in the game and bounced right back up for the next play.
Overall, Trinity doesn't have many weaknesses. If anything can be even slightly exploited while facing their in-state opponents, it's the offensive line. As a group, they are still learning. Last season they had five senior starters, three of which went on to sign with college programs. So replacing that group isn't easy. But this group has been sufficient, thus far.