It was a Chamber of Commerce-type of day in Orlando on Tuesday, as the East team took the sun-splashed field for practice. Some of the top executives in attendance were Miami's Bill Parcells, Jacksonville's brain trust of Gene Smith and Jack Del Rio, as well as Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris and Kansas City coach Todd Haley.
The practice opened up with some quarterback drills, and Fordham gunslinger John Skelton once again showed off his stellar arm strength. However, it wouldn't be Skelton who most of the scouts would come away impressed by, but Northwestern's Mike Kafka. Although nobody is going to get Kafka's arm strength confused with Joe Flacco's, Kafka put enough zip on the ball to throw the out patterns, and he had great touch and accuracy on deep balls. Penn State's Daryll Clark had a better day than he did Monday, as he showed more underneath accuracy, but he still struggled throwing anything farther than 15 yards and simply doesn't possess the arm to throw the out route.
Running back Javarris James continued his solid performance, as he was very quick through some of the limited openings in the defense and he did a fine job of catching the ball out of the backfield. After a mediocre at best practice on Monday, Tulane's Andre Anderson made some big plays Tuesday and showed a great set of hands. Connecticut's Andre Dixon seemed to take a step back, as he danced quite a bit instead of hitting the holes with force.
"I can catch, I can block, obviously I can run and I can also pick up protections," James said when asked about what he's showing potential NFL employers. "I feel like I'm a complete back."
We had a fullback sighting, as LSU's Richard Dickson caught every pass thrown his way, including a one-handed snare as he was getting hit by defenders. Dixon showed that he isn't afraid to scratch up his helmet, and his 6-3, 244-pound frame will likely get him some second-day draft consideration.
We saw a pair of tight ends come to the forefront, as Penn State's Andrew Quarless and Army's Alejandro Villanueva impressed some of the on-lookers. Quarless not only caught everything throw his way, but also showed great speed and moves when turning upfield. Villanueva attracts attention just by his mere 6-10, 285-pound presence, but when he moves around, he looks like a player who would be much smaller and more nimble. Again, Villanueva displayed great hands during the session.
"I offer versatility at tight end," Quarless said when asked about what he brings to an NFL team, "to be able to stretch the middle of the field and also be able to come down and really smack an end right in the face. You have to be able to do that to be an all-around tight end."
Three wide receivers stood out in practice, and perhaps the most impressive was Buffalo's Naaman Roosevelt. Roosevelt caught every pass thrown his way flawlessly and showed an ability to get separation and then suddenness when lined up in the slot. Michigan State's Blair White may not look the part of a typical wide receiver but did his best Kevin Walter imitation, catching everything thrown his way and running excellent routes. Finally, Freddie Barnes again showed why he was a record-setting pass catcher at Bowling Green, as he plucked everything throw near him.
The offensive line had a standout performance from Rutgers' Kevin Haslam. The 6-5, 296-pound tackle was mostly overshadowed this season by his fellow bookend, Anthony Davis, but Haslam helped make a name for himself as he repeatedly stoned oncoming defenders, including the highly-rated Greg Hardy. Iowa's Kyle Calloway continued his fantastic play, and Tennessee tackle Chris Scott more than held his own. Indiana's Rodger Saffold also had his way with Hardy on more than one occasion.
Defensively, UCF's Torrell Troup was again dominant, as he was often double teamed in full 11-on-11 drills but still was able to get into the backfield and cause disruption. Purdue's Mike Neal collapsed the pocket on many occasions, as did Virginia's Nate Collins.
"I'm just working hard and trying to get some of this good coaching out here to make me a better player," Troup said.
On the outside, North Carolina State's Willie Young was able to get good pressure off the edge and even sniffed out a well set up screen play. Ohio State's Doug Worthington showed an ability to attack with purpose and still be fundamentally correct, signs of great coaching from a great college program. Virginia's Nate Collins also was able to make plays in the backfield and even had a pass defensed. Connecticut's Lindsey Witten showed himself to be lightning quick off the snap, and he was able to give most of the left tackles a hard time at practice.
University of South Florida linebacker Kion Wilson was able to make plays all over the football field, as was Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield, who continues to impress the scouts. Navy's Ross Pospisil was caught out of position on several plays and didn't really look athletic enough to succeed in anything more than a special-teams role.
"I need to work on my footwork and the bag drills," Schofield said when asked what he can learn and do better. "I think the linebacker position will come with experience and reps."
In the secondary, the Virginia Tech duo of Stephan Virgil and Kam Chancellor was able to make plays, and Toledo's Barry Church found himself in great position often, which caused errant throws. Clemson's Chris Chancellor was given Darrelle Revis treatment, as he was rarely challenged on Day 2 after a stellar Monday practice.
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Charlie Bernstein is the editor-in-chief of JagNation.com.
East-West Shrine Game: Day 2
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