All of the fuss on the first day that I arrived on Tuesday was about Chris Wells. He's obviously made believers out of just about everyone who's watched East on the practice field. He just looks the part at first glance but he's even more impressive when he has a football in his hands.
On Wednesday, there was some more good news for Ohio State fans. All of the focus shifted to the stellar play of Robert Rose and, of course, Ohio State is one of the final three schools still in the running along with USC and Tennessee for Rose. He was close to spectacular at times during the 40-plus play intra-squad scrimmage, working against highly-regarded Sam Young for much of the time. Rose, who also logged a few plays at tight end during the scrimmage, will officially announce his school on Saturday during the game.
It's obvious that the East squad is very athletic on both sides of the football. On offense, the biggest strength of the unit for the East is probably on the line where athleticism is on display across the front. Andre Smith's play at left tackle is being talked about in superlatives. There may not be a pass rusher in all of San Antonio that can beat Smith at left tackle.
The wide out corps is pretty strong also but Percy Harvin separated himself from the other receivers on Wednesday. He was Ginn-like at times...no not really...but he looked really good nevertheless. Vidal Hazelton also looked pretty impressive.
At running back, on Wednesday I thought James Aldridge looked more comfortable in the offense then Chris Wells did. After the scrimmage Wells told me that he's not really fond of the spread offense and would prefer to run in the I-formation with a fullback in front of him. He's still the man but Aldridge is pretty solid. He actually fits Ginn's offense pretty well. Neither Wells nor Aldridge broke off any substantial runs during the scrimmage so that might tell you something about the East defense.
On defense...I like all four linebackers. Micah Johnson had a good scrimmage today. On one particular play, Wells tried to avoid a would-be tackler and made a spin move that landed him directly in the way of Johnson in pursuit. On contact, Wells was knocked off of his feet from a pretty nice tackle by Johnson. I think you're all going to like Akeem Hebron a whole lot...I sure do. Brandon Spikes is a specimen and Brandon Graham is all over the field. . The linebackers are the strength of the defense. It's hard to pick one favorite of the four.
The secondary was sort of quiet today but I think Myron Rolle continues to play well. He seems to be playing better than anyone else back there, Wallace included.
Rose seems to be the best on the defensive line right now but Maurice Evans was making a few plays in the scrimmage.
I think the big match up in the game will be the East offensive line versus the West defensive line which looks to be loaded with studs across the front. Whoever wins this battle should have the inside track on winning the football game. I think the East linebackers could be difference-makers also.
Ginn fully intends to run the same offense in the all-star game that he has at Glenville that features three and four receiver sets on the outside with a one back set or an even an empty backfield behind the quarterback.
"I'm really not used to the spread offense. I really never ran out of it before and it's hard to get adjusted to it," said Wells who will be the lone back most of the time when he's in the game. "It's probably going to effect my number of carries and my reads on certain blocks. There is a little bit of I-formation here and there, mainly for when we need short yardage."
Although it's not his favorite offensive set, it just might give Wells a little head start to some version of the offense he may find himself in at Ohio State. With Troy Smith returning for his senior season, Ohio State has a chance to be very prolific on offense next year...operating out of the spread. But for maximum production from a guy like Wells, he needs to "dot the I" from about seven or 8 yards deep.
"I know there's a lot of expectations for me here but I can only go as far as the team lets me go," Wells said. "I'm just going to go out there on Saturday and have fun."
Rose intends to have a lot of fun as well. He certainly looked like he was enjoying himself immensely at the scrimmage on Wednesday.
"I'm doing pretty good down here but I'm just being me," Rose said. "I don't get as much exposure as all of these other guys and now I'm like the best kept secret here, but I've been doing this stuff all along. I feel pretty good about where I am right now."
The East took it easy on the second practice of the day, in shorts and helmets, while the West went right back after it I was told. Double-sessions are scheduled again on Thursday and then one more morning practice on Friday.
The expectations on both Wells and Rose have increased dramatically since they've come to San Antonio. Ohio State fans are hoping that they live up to those expectations on Saturday, especially if Rose, as expected, becomes a Buckeye.
And if you can't get enought coverage of Wells and Rose and all the rest of what's happening down in San Antonio, try listening in on Scout Radio throughout the day when prompted on the message board. The folks at Scout.com are testing out new technology down here for the Internet and it seems to be a big hit.