Tuesday's Shrine Practice: West

Like their colleagues from the East, the West team's second practice was considerably more physical than the previous days. With the offensive and defensive schemes fully installed the west team spent most of their time in scrimmages and unit on unit drills. This appealed to scouts in attendance and many were remarking on how informative this practice was.

The difficult wind conditions did not hinder the West team quarterbacks as much as the East quarterbacks. Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar had the best day of all quarterbacks in attendance displaying nice touch on his deep balls and throwing a perfect spiral on almost every occasion today. Drew Olsen continued to impress on short and medium range throws but his deep balls and medium range out passes tended to flutter. Reggie McNeil made one of the best throws of the day delivering a deep out while on the run. Unfortunately for McNeil that was his only highlight of the day as he consistently missed receivers high, low, and wide.

San Diego State receiver Jeff Webb does a nice job extending his hands when making a catch. Colorado State receiver Tim Anderson continued to make great catches all day building off of a strong first day. Todd Watkins made several more highlight reel catches and scouts appear to have been taking notice. Watkins was very busy with a handful of teams after today's practice. Texas A&M receiver Jason Carter also had a nice day. Carter ran crisp routes and made several great catches. Carter also has the speed to get deep and the fearlessness to make plays over the middle. Both of the West's tight ends continued to shine. Tim Day continues to make plays downfield and is more than effective as a blocker. Texas TE David Thomas, meanwhile, consistently seems to do everything fundamentally correct. Thomas also shows the ability to get downfield and make plays.

Jeromy Clary remains the best offensive lineman on the West team. Clary can use his size and strength, quickness, or textbook fundamentals to beat his man on any given play and frequently does. Joe Toledo also continues to hold up well though Toledo was more susceptible to the outside rush today. Toledo is definitely more inclined to maul his opponents rather than finesse them. TCU tackle Michael Toudouze also displayed nice footwork today and showed the ability to play in space. While he appears to have the necessary physical skills to play Toudouze may need some more strength and refining of his technique before he is ready to produce at the next level. Paul McQuistan, of Weber State, gives the West team another raw but talented offensive tackle prospect. McQuistan has impressive size and enough quickness to play in the NFL should he improve his technique and his playing strength. Cal guard Aaron Merz was the most dominant of the interior linemen today. Once Merz locked onto his man he directed him away from the action. Oklahoma guard/center Chris Chester had an up and down day. Still having difficulty on the quarterback-center exchange Chester had a difficult time during the early part of one on one drills. Later in the practice though Chester showed his athletic skills and was able to keep up with even the quickest of the defensive tackles.

The Western defensive MVP of Tuesday's practice was likely USC defensive end Frostee Rucker. Rucker has a quick first step and the ability to beat his blocker with speed, finesse, or power. Nebraska defensive tackle Le Kevin Smith also showed several moves other than a bull rush during drills. At one point Smith got off the snap and put a spin move on the center before the center was able to touch him. Scouts from the Seattle Seahawks were heard comparing Smith to current Minnesota Viking Kevin Williams. Steve Fifita appears to be the strongest lineman here. Standing barely six feet tall, the former Utah Ute used his natural leverage and size to bull rush the offensive linemen all day. What Washington defensive tackle Manase Hopoi lacks in bulk he makes up for in quickness. Hopoi has a great first step and is very difficult for offensive linemen to get and keep a hold of. Devan Long again showed promise as an edge rusher. Today, however, Long also showed the ability to quickly adjust and pursue the ball carrier. During scrimmage he made several tackles on the sidelines. Texas A&M defensive tackle Johnny Jolly is one of the most physical players on the West roster. When he gets leverage on an offensive lineman Jolly is unblockable.

Jamar Williams had a second solid practice in as many days. The former Sun Devil is aggressive when playing downhill and can cover from sideline to sideline. Williams is not as impressive playing in reverse though. Oregon State linebacker Keith Ellison got the highest grades for pass coverage potential. His immediate reactions, quick burst, and ability to get depth on his drops was impressive. Stanford linebacker Kevin Schimmilmann is effective at cutting off angles in pursuit and playing down hill.

Daniel Manning remains the best of the West receivers. Manning is playing both safety and cornerback and continues to stay with his man throughout the field. Texas Tech safety Dwayne Slay is a big safety that may be best suited on special teams or in a defensive system where he can stay in the box. He has shown neither speed nor instincts in pass coverage. Darrell Brooks is another who is having a difficult time. The Arizona safety does display better range than Slay but still does not make enough plays on the ball. USC cornerback Justin Wyatt has good closing speed and enough deep speed to stay with receivers. He tends to give receivers too much cushion and is often only in position to make a quick tackle rather than breakup or intercept a pass. Josh Powell remains one of the most physical players in San Antonio. Powell is also likely to be confined to a scheme that limits his coverage responsibilities.


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