During San Antonio East Central's two-a-days, the first practice was in full pads, with the Hornets at their normal positions. The second practice was in T-shirts and shorts, with certain key players swapping positions to both add depth and practice at spots where they could see time on the opposite side of the ball to give the Hornets an edge.
East Central has a number of FBS prospects, including Boise State commitment Andrew Tercek and speedster Chris Armstrong, who has multiple BCS school offers. But I didn't get a chance to see much of Tercek, and Armstrong didn't participate in practice. Keep an eye on senior wide receiver Jermaine Dotson, a 6-foot-1, 187-pounder who certainly looks the part and who made a few highlight plays.
Christian Jones, 2013 quarterback
Jones is one of the most underrated quarterbacks, in the state, in the 2013 class, likely a product of a loaded in-state quarterback crop. I was impressed by what I saw from him in summer 7-on-7s, but it's always different to see somebody in pads.
Jones has made a tremendous leap from when I last saw him in pads last fall. He's tightened his release significantly, and is generally a more consistent and accurate passer all the way around. A lot of that should be attributed to his improvement of his throwing motion. Jones could be an excellent baseball pitcher in that all of his throws, from a bullet pass on a slant to a touch pass, come out with the exact same, easy throwing motion.
In practice, I saw him hit on just about every type of pass, though his strengths appear to be hitting on the deep ball (he has great touch over the top) and in hitting timing routes like comebacks. He showed the ability to ratchet up the RPMs on multiple throws, and even the throws that he didn't spin got to the receiver.
But passing isn't Jones's best attribute. At 6-4 220, he has outstanding size, and his feet are far quicker than most players his size. With his strength and quickness, he would seem to project as a strong zone-read quarterback, and at one point in a team period, he juked a defensive end out of his shoes before cutting up the middle with a hard plant and go.
Jones is also a great leader, the type of person who alternates well between firing up his teammates when they need it to joking around to lighten any tension.
Jones currently has one offer, from Louisiana-Lafayette, though he's drawn recruiting attention from bigger schools, most notably Oklahoma, with others like Mississippi State and Nevada taking a look.
Jeremy Jones, 2014 quarterback
The younger brother of Christian, Jeremy is another outstanding prospect who may have a higher ceiling as a passer because he has a stronger arm and slightly more top-end speed.
The 6-5 Jeremy is built like a shooting guard, with arms to his knees, big hands and fluid athleticism. And he's a Division 1 caliber athlete in that sport as well. But in football, he projects as one of the top 50 or so players in the state for 2014.
As a thrower, he doesn't quite have the polish yet that Christian has. But he has a powerful arm, one capable of firing missiles into tight coverage. He had a great throw on an out route that I saw, though many of his best throws came on slants and crossing routes where he was firing the ball onto a moving target across the middle.
Jeremy has yet to fill out, and so he weighs probably in the 180-to-190-pound range, but the size potential is there with plenty of areas to add weight. And while it would be tough to move him away from quarterback, his height, length and athleticism will draw him looks as a wide receiver and athlete as well. When you look at his size, and project him out to a 6-5, 215-to-220-pound wideout who can run, that's a pretty appealing combination.
He played receiver some on the second practice of two-a-days and certainly looked the part. He has excellent speed and body control, and is just a smooth-looking player on the run. He's raw there (especially as a route-runner), as can be expected since it's not his natural position, but as somebody who could be running some go-routes, with the chance to pull in a pass over the top of a defender, he's going to be pretty good.
Jeremy will also play some safety in prevent situations this season, using his height and athleticism to knock down potential deep throws.
Notre Dame came down to see Jeremy in the spring, and it's safe to say that he could blow up as a recruit and wind up with double-digit BCS conference offers.
Austin Jupe, 2013 safety
Jupe is one of the more intriguing players because he's a 6-2 safety who has the hips and smooth athleticism to play cornerback. In fact, he actually played that position a year ago, and Baylor took his commitment as a potential cornerback who could move to safety if corner doesn't work out.
Jupe is the definition of smooth in coverage. He doesn't panic, uses his hands well at the line and glues himself to the hip of the wide receiver. His hips swivel especially well for somebody built as he is — Jupe's frame is reminiscent of Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro — and he has deep speed that's evidenced by his success as a member of East Central's track squad.
Jupe practiced mostly at safety, where he showcased fantastic range and a willingness to lower his pads in run support. He has some nastiness to him, which is great to see for a potential cornerback. And he makes great plays on the ball in the air. In short, he's the complete package there.
At the same time, as good as he is at safety, I understand Baylor's decision to try him at cornerback. After all, how many 6-2, 195-pound athletes are there out there who can legitimately play corner? If he succeeds, and with Jupe's work ethic and competitiveness, you wouldn't want to bet against him, he gives you a prototypical player at that position.
In the second practice session, Jupe played some wide receiver as well, with East Central looking to take advantage of him out on the edge. He's such a natural athlete that he didn't look out of place there either, flashing as a tall, thick-bodied guy who can accelerate down the sidelines on a deep ball. he also had nice hands.
Art Briles has turned the Baylor program around through outstanding evaluations, and I have a hard time believing Jupe isn't one of the top safeties in the state.
Matt Coleman, 2013 cornerback
Coleman is the younger brother of Nick Coleman, a 2012 prospect. And if Matt had Nick's size — Nick Coleman was listed at 5-11 — he'd be an awfully coveted prospect. As it is, I still think he's an FBS guy, just potentially at a non-BCS school.
While Nick was a safety in a cornerback's body, Matt is all cornerback. He really runs well, and is a fluid player who doesn't lose much, if anything, in transition from backpedal to turning and running.
Coleman is listed at 5-9, and may be slightly shorter than that. But he's clocked in the 4.3s on the camp circuit this summer, and has the skill set to be a high-level cover guy. His leaping ability does offset his lack of height somewhat, and he does a nice job of finding the ball in the air and using his hands to ensure the receiver doesn't get a clean catch.
You don't see him play a ton of bump-and-run at this level, and while he isn't afraid of contact, neither is Coleman a head-hunter. Still, with his cover skills, and his willingness to play in run support, it's like like that's a huge weakness, either.
It seems like schools are focusing more and more on bigger cornerbacks, but as it gets later into this class, Coleman could be somebody to watch, especially if he has a stellar senior year. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see him end up with teammate Tercek at Boise State, or somewhere similar on down the line.