Shrine Game Practice Recap West

Marty Schottenheimer's West team all-stars took the field Wednesday afternoon in hopes to impress the numerous scouts in attendance at McCraken Field in front of the Florida Citrus Bowl. Find out which players stood out and which players may have hurt their stock.

Photo: Arizona DB Devin Ross, AP images

Charlies Bernstein, who covers the Jacksonville Jaguars, is covering the East-West Shrine Game for

Wednesday Practice Report - East
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Tuesday Practice Recap - West
Shrine Game Practice Day 1
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Although BYU quarterback Max Hall doesn’t have the prototypical size of an NFL quarterback, he has more than enough arm strength. Hall zipped out patterns and was able to put great touch on his passes downfield. He was clearly the most polished of the three West team quarterbacks.

“I think I’m throwing pretty well,” Hall said when asked about his week. “I did pretty well in the one-on-one drills and I can make every throw that they ask of me. I think I did a pretty good job of demonstrating that.”

Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing, also rather diminutive in stature, didn’t fare as well as Hall as he struggled with timing throws and doesn’t seem to possess an NFL arm. Eastern Washington signal caller Matt Nichols is an intriguing prospect as he stands 6’3”, 220 lbs., and appears to have an NFL caliber arm. Despite having those attributes, Nichols was very slow in his decision making and seemed to be frozen at the speed of practice, which will likely be two or three steps slower than an actual NFL practice.

The running back from small school North Dakota State, Pat Paschall, impressed many in attendance. Paschall showed great quickness through the hole and finished his runs with power and authority.

“I think I’m a tough, hard-nosed guy that’s going to give it my all,” Paschall said. “Coming from a running back, that’s what you need. Pass protection, running, blocking, anything you need I’m going to do it.”

Oklahoma State running back Keith Toston ran with the purpose and power you would expect from a 6’0”, 215 lb. back as he was a load for oncoming defenders to bring down. Toston did a nice job of displaying his hands as he was targeted on swing passes often during the session. Arizona State back Dimitri Nance showed great hands for a big man, but seemed to lack burst.

UCLA fullback Ryan Moya impressed everyone in attendance as he showed fantastic hands and ran great routes from the H-back position. Although Moya stuck his head in the pile to lead block, he really made his mark catching the football as one scout compared him to “a poor man’s Chris Cooley.”

A true tight end that took advantage of his previous relationship with quarterback Max Hall was fellow BYU Cougar, Dennis Pitta. The 6’5”, 250 lb. tight end ran good routes and showed fantastic hands as Hall and him hooked up on a pair of touchdown tosses. Colorado’s Riar Geer had a tough day as he let a few passes bounce off his hands.

The West team wide receivers appeared to be a full head and shoulders about their competition from the East, as SMU’s Emmanuel Sanders looked like the most natural route runner and pass catcher, and he seems destined to play on Sunday’s. Sanders showed a bit of a diva type of attitude which seemed to turn off some scouts. Fresno State wideout Seyi Ajirotutu is as tough to cover as his name is difficult to say as the 6’3”, 210 lb. pass catcher used his large frame to block out smaller defensive backs, similar to that of Denver Broncos star Brandon Marshall. Kansas receiver Kerry Meier seems to be a bit of a ‘tweener from the wideout position as he is too small to play tight end, and too slow to get open against better competition.

The man that dominated in the trenches was Hawaii lineman Josh Estes. The 6’2”, 305 lb. mauler punished the very good West defensive line on running plays, and acted like a wall in pass protection. Texas A & M guard Michael Shumard played well alongside Estes, and Texas Tech tackle Brandon Carter showed much better athleticism than many expected.

On the defensive line, Northern Iowa’s James Ruffin and Kansas State’s Jeffery Fitzgerald were able to get consistent pressure and dominated the tackles they faced off against.

At linebacker, UCLA’s Reggie Carter showed great leadership qualities, and he was much more than just a loud voice. Carter moved very well laterally and had good ball instincts. None of the other West team linebackers really stood out.

The West team is rich in defensive back talent as Arizona’s Devin Ross is a big play waiting to happen, and Texas Tech’s Jamar Wall is very quick breaking on patterns. Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey was quick to make plays on the football, although he took some bad angles on a few occasions. UCLA corner Alterraun Verner may be slight of build, but he plays much bigger than his 5’11”, 182 lb. frame would suggest.

“Devin Ross, Alterraun Verner, and Jamar Wall are three of the best corners I’ve seen,” West coach and nine-year NFL veteran Marlon McCree said. “T.J. Ward is going to play in the NFL. The other guys still have to work on their game a little bit but I think they all have a chance.”

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Charlie Bernstein is the host of CB Sports on ESPN Radio 1420 in St. Augustine, and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.

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