East Notebook - Day One

It was a pretty quiet day at the East practice session in San Antonio, Texas for the U.S. All-American Bowl. There was some news, mainly the injury of wide receiver Fred Rouse and the domination of the East secondary - Kenny Phillips, Justin King, Jamario O'Neal and Demetrice Morley.

Today was the first practice session for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The East squad took the field for two sessions broken up by a lunch break.

The big news of the day for the East Squad was the injury to the nation's top prospect, Fred Rouse from Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln High School. Rouse sustained a right foot injury when planting on the turf. He was helped off the field and will have x-rays taken later tonight. His status for Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl is unknown.

"I was trying to plant and cut in and I just lost it," said Rouse. "My foot just gave. Right now I can't put any pressure on it at all. It really hurts. I hope to play in the game but it's ok because this is football and people get hurt."

In other injury news running back Elan Lewis re-injured his left knee.

The East Squad is loaded at two positions – defensive back and offensive line. In today's practice the secondary dominated the one on one drills with South Florida defensive backs Demetrice Morley (Tennessee commitment) and Kenny Phillips showing the way. They both consistently manhandled the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage throughout the entire practice, rarely losing the one on one battle. Cornerbacks Justin King (Penn State) and Jamario O'Neal (Ohio State) also impressed in coverage but the duo from Miami led the way.

"Guess where we are from," said the confident Morely. "We are from South Florida and this is what we do. But I tell you what, that Patrick Turner is something else. He has great size and arms like a giraffe"

"I tell you what, No. 80 (Patrick Turner) is a player," said Phillips. "So is Rouse. They both have great size and they are aggressive."

There was some lively banter going on between the receivers and secondary players. In one exchange, Turner couldn't get by Morley as the DB from Miami (Fla.) Killian won this battle. Morley then shouted, "you want none of me. I am from the 3-0-5. Miami." Quarterback Jonathan Crompton (Tennessee commitment) than yelled out, "I am glad he is going to Tennessee." Both Crompton and Morley have committed to the Volunteers.

"I had a lot of fun today," said Turner, the most impressive receiver in the first day of practice for the East. "Those guys (Morley and Phillips) are very tough but that's why I came here, for the challenge. (Justin) King and (Jamario) O'Neal were good as well."

According to Michael Ray Garvin, Patrick Turner stole the show. "Rouse looked real good before he got hurt but I thought 80 was pretty darn good."

Other wide receivers that stood out were Trey Stross (Iowa commitment) and Eric Huggins (Oklahoma commitment). In fact, Stross quietly had a very good practice, showing excellent separation, hands and athletic ability.

As far as the East quarterbacks, they all had their moments but they also showed a little rust from the lay off. Crompton is the biggest of the bunch and he can throw with touch or velocity. Greg Paulus (Duke basketball commitment) struggled early but got back as the day went on, especially late. Jake Christensen (Iowa commitment) showed a very strong and accurate arm.

"It felt good to get out there today," said Christensen. "There are some truly great players here. I think Trey (Stross) and I are getting a head start."

"Man it felt great today," said Crompton. "This is the first time in a while really throwing. I tell you what Patrick (Turner) is a freak and Morley didn't get beat all day long."

Some Big Heads
The first thing that was notable at the East practice today was the fact that Dan Doering, Dace Richardson and Michael Oher weren't wearing a helmet.

"They had to special order are helmets," Boone said laughing. "We're hoping to have them in tonight or in the morning."

Staying on the topic of offensive lineman, Boone was the consensus top road grader for the East squad.

Boone is every bit of 6-foot-8 and 300-pounds. He had terrific knee bend for his size and he was surprisingly quick.

Boone started at left tackle for the East and during scrimmage he looked light on his feet as he attacked the linebackers.

Alex wasn't always met with open arms when he made it out to the 2nd level. "Rico Suave baby," Boone said, shaking his head.

"Rico McCoy is one bad dude. He was easily the best linebacker on our team. He's so fast and physical. One time I went out to block him and he got me right under the chin. I was impressed.

The Scout.com recruiting experts covering the East squad were equally impressed with Dan Doering. The 6-foot-7, 290-pounder, from Barrington, Illinois looked like he was in mid-season form.

Doering was probably the most athletic lineman for the East. It's just amazing that a young man the size of Doering can run and bend like he does.

"Everyone here has been impressive," Doering said. "All of the offensive lineman and defensive lineman are the best of the best."

Every offensive lineman looked impressive for the East but the guy who stood out to me was Michael Oher. The 6-foot-5, 340-pounder, from Memphis (TN) Briarcrest Christian Schools will play center in the U.S. Army All-American game but he'll be a very good guard at the next level.

Oher was extremely nimble and strong. In my eyes, Oher is the total package. He has the strength, feet and quickness to make an immediate impact at the next level.

Pennsylvania's Marques Slocum looked like he could play at the D-1 level tomorrow. The 6-foot-6, 335-pounder from Philadelphia (Pa.) West Philadelphia Catholic had a very good practice. Slocum can run for a big man and he uses his hands extremely well.

Impressive Running Backs
The running backs for the East team in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl are another impressive position. Each presents his own versatility to an already potent offense, which is destined to be a high-octane show. Rashard Mendenhall (Illinois commitment) has the best hands out of the backfield and possession the best potential of all the backs for the East squad. He and Jason Gwaltney are the top two members of the all-physique team, with Gwaltney impressing throughout Monday's practice. Toney Baker could be the most college-ready of the backs, having a natural nose for the hole and running the best routes. Elan Lewis (Virginia Tech) showed that while he is the shortest running back, that lower center of gravity helps him tremendously in changing directions and finding his own holes. Maurice Wells is, hands down, the fastest running back and a great change of pace player. With the formations expected to be run by the East offense, he could fit best into that mold of offense.

Deep LB Corps
The class of 2006 is loaded at the linebacker position. The East squad at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is represented by Rico McCoy, Brian Cushing, Derek Nicholson, and Jerome Hayes.

During the first practice session on Monday all four linebackers demonstrated skills that exemplify why they carry such lofty national rankings, and why they were selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American combine.

Jerome Hayes did not standout during the early session, during the second session he got progressively better. Derek Nicholson showed outstanding read-and-react skills. He filled the holes, and was constantly in position to make plays. Brian Cushing is lightning quick off the outside, he covers the flats as well as most defensive backs. Cushing is physical, and is equally adept at playing the run. The linebacker who stood out the most was Rico McCoy. McCoy covers passes like a safety and he is very quick at reacting to the play. McCoy is just as physical in person as he is on film. McCoy is very verbal, and has no problem taking a leadership role on the defense.

The defensive line play during Monday's session was highlighted Earl Heyman. Heyman has an incredible motor and none stop all the time. Heyman is strong enough and physical enough to play inside, although he is slightly under-sized by some standards. Heyman is very quick off the edge; he presented problems for most of the offensive tackles on the East squad. Melvin Alaeze was outstanding as well and at times, he was frustrated, because three of the East linemen were playing without helmets. Extra helmets were being shipped in for the players who were too big for the helmets that were on hand.

In other news, Victor Harris, Fred Rouse, Justin King and Demetrice Morley were returning kicks.

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is played in San Antonio, Texas., at the Alamodome on Jan. 15, 2005, and broadcast nationally on NBC at 1 p.m. Eastern. Scout.com is a sponsor, the official selection partner and exclusive on-line partner of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, as well as the associated U.S. Army Combine for underclassmen. The game features the top 78 football prospects in the country. East versus West.

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