Category Archives: Shrine Game reports

SHRINE GAME Week Day 4

Its an off-day for the East-West Shrine squads so let me take this opportunity to post my Shrine All-Practice Team for the week.

Offense
QB ALEK TORGERSEN/PENN 6’2/215 #15
RB JOE WILLIAMS/UTAH 5/11/202 #28
RB De’VEON SMITH/MICHIGAN 5’11/224 #2
WR AUSTIN CARR/NORTHWESTERN 6’0/201 #80
WR DEANGELO YANCEY/PURDUE 6’1/220 #88
TE ERIC SAUBERT/DRAKE 6’5/247 #85
T SAM TEVI/UTAH 6’5/312 #52
T DAN SKIPPER/ARKANSAS 6’9/317 #70
G ADAM PANKEY/WEST VIRGINIA 6’4/313 #57
G WILL HOLDEN/VANDERBILT 6’7/313 #58
C CHASE ROULLIER/WYOMING 6’3/321 #73

DEFENSE
E DEATRICH WISE/ARKANSAS 6’5/275 #99
E TREY HENDRICKSON/FLA ATLANTIC 6’4/255 #99
T DEANGELO BROWN/LOUISVILLE 6’0/312 #97
T RALPH GREEN/INDIANA 6’3/317 #96
LB PAUL MAGLOIRE/ARIZONA 6’0/225 #41
LB JAMES ONWUALO/NOTRE DAME 6’1/230 #47
LB AUSTIN CALITRO/VILLANOVA 6’1/250 #45
CB FABIAN MOREAU/UCLA 6’0/205 #2
CB TRESTON DeCOUD/OREGON STATE 6’2/203 #14
S XAVIER WOODS/LA TECH 5’11/203 #27
S LEON McQUAY/SOUTHERN CAL 6’1/195 #32

HONORABLE MENTION Because he’s a small school tweener, but an absolute physical specimen & productive player: #81 BILLY BROWN/WR 6’3/254, 10 1/2″HANDS, 33 1/2″ARMS, 80 1/4″WINGSPAN

I did get a few minutes to speak with all-purpose Place Kicker/Punter AUSTIN REHKOW of Idaho Thursday. I asked which position he felt most accomplished in and he said Punter. he pointed out his ability to directional Punt, which I had mentioned here a couple of says ago. But he also feels he is an accurate kicker, albeit not from long range. he expressed being a bit nervous about not having an experience Long Snapper, especially from a timing standpoint. But he did state that SAM TEVI, who won that job, is improving daily. Seems like a bright young man with a positive personality.

Even though he’s a bit light in the pants, I’m coming around to liking CAMERON TOM/OC/SOUTHERN MISS. He’s a good looking athlete who moves very well for an Int OL. He’s not powerful, but uses his longish arms (33 5/8″) to direct defenders away from the ball. Best of all he appears fairly light on his feet and moves very well in all directions.

Just to give you an idea of the athleticism of today’s football player… The East squad had a Punt fielding contest with 5 players from the both the D and O facing off to catch punts, near the end of Thursday’s practice session. No skill position players allowed. Not one ball hit the ground even though some punts required a long run to corral, especially the one caught by DAN SKIPPER. Even stubby NC STATE OC JOE SCELFO (6’0/294) cradled the ball into his chest for a catch.

I would have to say that one of the most pleasant surprises down here this week was East WR DeANGELO YANCEY of Purdue. the Boilermakers were not a winning team during his stay there and multiple coaching changes rocked the program. But most NFL personnel people understand that good players can end up in bad programs. YANCEY is a solid 6’1/220 and though he clearly lacks speed he gets separation and displays reliable hands. He can also shake off some of the smaller DB who don’t get to his legs quickly enough. He has put himself into draftable consideration here if he runs decently at the Combine and/or his Pro Day.

THat’s about it folks. I’ll be tweeting out at tomorrow’s game at the Trop. My twitter handle is ‘pigskinpaul’ for those interested in checking it. Game time is @ 3PM Eastern Time on NFL Network. If you can, please support the Shriners with a donation. They do great things for a whole lot of sick & injured kids; over a million and counting.

For what it’s worth (usually not much) I’ll take the West. That West squad is incredibly bigger and more athletic looking than the East, but then again.. I do not expect much offense and might even play a Vegas parlay that the D & Special Teams units outscore the Offenses.

Cheers

Pigskin

SHRINE GAME Week DAY 3

Today was the peak practice day of the week. Thursday will begin the wind down as the teams get prepared to play a game on Saturday with game planning and walk-throughs. Spirited play and hard hitting contact highlighted both practices Wednesday.

But first let me mention the most shocking thing about this week in my world. For the first time in my 8 years covering the Shrine Game, since it’s move to Florida, PACKERS GM TED THOMPSON is conspicuous by his absence. It is clear that he has not and will not be attending the Shrine Venue this year. I fully expect to see him next week in Mobile. If I do not then I will be concerned about his health and/or status as the key football man in the PACKERS organization.

One of the clear stars of this morning’s session was MICHIGAN RB/DE’VEON SMITH. Considered by most to be a between the tackles, power runner he has stood out this entire week as a pass catcher out of the backfield. And that includes some serious run-after-catch ability featuring power and speed. He ran over and through some defenders today in some Red Zone action. That could carry over to the game on Saturday.

I did indeed spend some time watching QB play today. It wasn’t pretty most f the time. COOPER RUSH looks very unsure of his reads of the defense. He holds the ball too long and looks to take off on too many designed passing plays. He was also not terribly accurate on way too many occasions as well. NICK MULLENS may have looked even more confused, more often than RUSH, and looks to have below average arm strength, when accuracy is factored in. In reality I saw more promise from PENN QB ALEK TORGERSON. He looked very relaxed in the pocket and worked through progressions quickly, making some nice throws. He throws effortlessly, not pushing or forcing his throws. He ranks just behind KIEL in overall arm strength, IMO.
If you read my stuff regularly, you know that I am a strong believer (not unlike AARON RODGERS, apparently) that size matters, especially with a QB’s hands. In the total group of 6 here in St. Pete, the largest hand spread was measured at 9 5/8″, that being ZACH TERRELL. RUSH’s hands spread was less than 9″. That is scary small my friends.

GUNNER KEIL, might be the best overall QB on the WEST team, but he can be terribly inconsistent. He has the biggest arm, but after a vagabond college career, it could be said that his heart & head are still highly questionable relative to having what it takes to be an NFL level QB. Despite leading his team to a 13-0 MAC season ZACH TERRELL just does not have the look of a guy with enough arm or athleticism to play at the next level. Same could be said of WES LUNT, who at times looks absolutely awkward back in the pocket.

I luv the feisty, workmanlike approach to the game demonstrated by OC JOE SCELFO. He looks seriously undersized out there at times, but he passed a few tests Monday during the weigh-in process. He is just over 6′ tall and weighed in at 294 lbs. His 29 1/4″ arms probably mean he’s confined to OC as his only slot. But the good news is that his hand spread measured 9 7/8″ which should allay any fears that gripping and snapping the ball should be of issue to him. He looks like he can handle line calls and plays with high energy. I’d consider him as a late round draftee after an All-Conference season as a senior.

I will jump on the band wagon if it is not full already, regarding DRAKE TE ERIC SAUBERT, who is a good sized kid (6’5/247) with 10″ hands which he uses to good advantage. He does have a tendency to drop a few balls however, which I believe to be a concentration issue. He runs well and has a TE looking body. He will need work on his blocking, but he seems to be a willing worker and learner. I think most personnel people down here this week see him as a legit prospect adding some quality depth to perhaps the most promising TE group this decade.

Probably the best overall receiver for the East is DEANGELO YANCEY of Purdue. His combination of size, good hands and route running has scouts intrigued. He may be the victim of an overall weak Purdue team that has struggled to find a QB leader for their team the past 3-4 seasons.He weighed in at 220 lbs., on a 6’1″ frame Monday. His 9 1/4″hands are acceptable and his 33 1/4″ arm length make for a rather large target area. His 78 5/8″ wing span is most interesting to personnel people.

Even more action of note at the West practice session this afternoon.

I’ve been enjoying the hard work and effort from CHASE ROULLIER OL/Wyoming. He had some very nice numbers at the weigh in @ 6’3 & 321 lbs. He has very large. meaty legs and his 33″ arms aren’t too shabby for the Interior OL. He’s strong and aggressive and has looked just fine when sliding out to play OG. He has also shown the ability to explode out of his stance and get to second level blocks on the LB. He looks like a very draftable, middle round Pick based on his 2016 film and work this week.

My view has changed a bit on AVERY GENNESY/OT/TEXAS A&M after watching him get beaten a bit out on the edge and seeing his weigh-in numbers. Surprisingly, at least to me, AVERY stood only 6’3 on Monday. That would make him the shortest OT in the NFL. His 33″ long arms would also be on the short end for an NFL OT. I would have to say that he may be better suited to slide inside to an OG slot, with back up potential at RT in a pinch. And having said both of those things changes his Draft value considerably. I now wonder if he’s even in the Top 100 prospect list.

Two of the West TE caught my eye today with some nice route running and impressive catches. BLAKE JARWIN/Oklahoma State and TAYLOR McNAMARA/USC both look to join the East’s SAUBERT as 3rd Day draft prospects, again strengthening the TE Draft group. JARWIN made an excellent diving catch over the middle this aft, and McNAMARA showed very good run after catch ability on a couple of grabs.
MIKE ROBERTS/TE/Toledo is still listed as playing next week in the Senior Bowl, and i will ask him THursday if he’s really playing in both games. And he is playing a big time prospect this week. He’s an excellent receiver with giant hands for catching. His hand spread measured 11 5/8″ at the weigh-in. IN a Red Zone drill today he caught a pass and headed to the end zone. Hard hitting S LEON McQUAY sprinted over around the goal line and threw himself into ROBERTS trying for a ball jarring big hit. He bounced off and ROBERTS kept going as if a fly ht him. He’s a man folks. My guess is he may head to Mobile without actually playing on Saturday in St. Pete. THat would be too bad but understandable.

I pulled out the official Pigskin Paul stop watch to measure hang-time from all=purpose kicker AUSTIN REHKOW this aft. The results were not as strong as I expected. I came up with hang times of 4.28/4.19/4.53/4.44/4.12. Not bad, but back when BRYAN ANGER was here he would actually top 5 seconds a couple of times each practice session. Wg=hat I will give REHKPW credit for his ball placement however. Not once did he bang it down to the middle of the field. He was forcing return men toward the sideline and and out of bounds, with little room to reverse field. Directional punting is highly desirable in the NFL these days and REHKOW showed that he could handle that technique today.

For me the star of the afternoon session was DEATRICH WISE/DE/Arkansas. He basically gave his best JADEVEON CLOWNEY impersonation this afternoon. He was on the QB from multiple locations in the Defense and showed his length with several leaping pass deflections. He had the West QB corps on the run and looking for him over their shoulders. His weigh-in numbers from Monday were almost awe inspiring. He stood 6’4 7/8″, 275 lbs, 35″ arms, 10 3/8″ hands & an 85″ wingspan. Those are indeed CLOWNEY-like dimensions. I’m guessing many of you saw what CLOWNEY was able to do against New England when used creatively by DC ROMEO CRENNEL. With his long thin legs WISE has had some nagging injuries during his college career, and that will have to be checked carefully by doctors during the Combine medicals.

Good night from Florida folks. Thursday will be semi-walk throughs with lots of Special Teams work, but I am sure I can come up with a few tidbits for you.

Cheers

Pigskin

Shrine Weigh-in Report

For some reason, and unlike next week’s Senior Bowl, Monday’s weigh-in session at the East-West Shrine game currently underway in St. Petersburg is not open to the media. Of course, the numbers always eventually leak out – here courtesy of the Sporting News is this year’s data – but there really doesn’t seem to be any reason for the secrecy. While in the end players don’t play the game in shorts, most NFL teams have basic parameters in terms of an athlete’s size and other physical characteristics that that they work into their final draft grades.

Again, how players ‘measure up’ is hardly a defining moment, but a number of prospects did make a particular impression on pro personnel people at Monday’s Shrine weight-in session. Chief among those may have been Florida International OT Dieugot Joseph, who GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette reported is generating some genuine buzz this week. At 299 pounds, Joseph isn’t the biggest OT out there, but he checked in with 35.6 inch arms, along with big, strong (10-5”) hands. Utah OT Sam Tevi also checked off the same boxes with 34.9” arms and 10.4” hands. On the other hand, Texas A&M OT Avery Gennesy may have posted the most disappointing numbers of anyone in St. Pete. Thought to be a rising LT prospect, Gennesy measured in at barely 6-3, which is very short for an OT, along with a short 33” reach. Pro scouts may also have been disappointed in the reach of Arkansas OT Dan Skipper, who measured in at a legit 6-9, but whose arm length was still only 33.6” (where 35” is the gold standard.)

On the other side of the ball, Indiana DT Ralph Green, another player that our Pigskin Guillemette has noted in his dispatches from St. Pete, impressed at 6-3, 317 with a 34.5” reach. Pro scouts were also impressed with Arkansas DE Deatrich Wise who measured in at just under 6-5, 275 with a 35” reach. South Carolina DE Darius English also measured in at a rangy 6-5 with a 35” reach, although there will be plenty of debate whether he has the bulk to hold the point of attack at just 237 pounds or will have to make it at the next level as a 3-4 OLB. Same story for Pitt DE Ejuan Price, who was a whirling dervish for the Panthers on the field, but who is smallish even for an OLB at under 5-11 and just 246 pounds; the fact that his arm length was only 32” won’t help. Pro scouts also had to be a little disappointed that Florida Atlantic DE Trey Hendrickson, one of the guys they really wanted to see in St. Pete, also barely registered over 32” in arm length. It was even worse for Utah DE Hunter Dimick, one of the leading sackers in college football last fall, who only registered only a 31” arm length which is close to borderline for an edge rusher.

If there was an award for ‘best-looking FCS prospect’ at the Shrine weigh-in it may have gone to Shepherd WR Billy Brown who measured in at a TE-sized 6-3, 255 with huge (10-5”) hands and impressive arm length (33.5”). A couple of other true TEs also had impressive seesions including Oklahoma State’s Blake Jarwin who measured in at 6-5, 245 with 10” hands and a 34” reach. Same for Toledo’s Mike Roberts, who will also be at next week’s Senior Bowl, who tipped the scales at 6-4, 260, with absolutely massive mitts (11-6”) and a 33.6” reach.

At the same time, nobody is going to accuse Washington State WR Gabe Marks, who became the Pac-12’s all-time career leading receiver this fall, of simply getting by on his physical skills. Indeed, Marks measured in at just 5-10.5 and 185 pounds with small hands and a 30” inch reach. It will be interesting to watch Marks go up against a couple of corners who did pass the eyeball test in Minnesota’s Jalen Myrick, who isn’t all that tall at just 5-9.5, but who has a decent 32.5’ reach, along with Oregon State’s Treston DeCoud (another guy who our Pigskin has noted in his dispatches) who measured in at almost 6-2 with a 33” reach.

SHRINE REPORT Day Two

Another sunny and warmer than normal January day in Central Florida and just before the East morning practice began the field was invaded by a complete crew of area referees to oversee practices and give players tips on what penalties might have been called and why. Good idea says Pigskin Paul.

The more I see of Kansas S/Fish Smithson the more I like the guy. He’s a bit undersized by today’s S profile in today’s NFL but not a smurf by any means. He clearly ma be an example of really good football player who ended up a bad program at Kansas. He shows good quickness and a willingness to deliver a blow normally found in a bigger guy. I will be watching to get a feel for his cover skills in the coming days.

Caught up with RALEIGH McKENZIE, twin brother of the RAIDERS GM REGGIE McKENZIE. I always refer to him as the better looking McKenzie brother, which always makes him smile. The whole organization is looking forward to a fruitful off-season and building upon their fine 2016 season’s work, which was derailed when they lost their top two QB to injury heading into the Play-Offs. I asked him if a Vegas move appealed to him, and his comment was he just wished the talk and speculation would end and the team would set their coarse forward without chatter of a move on the regular basis. He’s a gracious and friendly guy who always has a few moments to chat with members of the media. Trust me folks the RAIDERS are in good hands under the regime of the McKenzie Brothers.

I find one of the real mystery prospects here this week to be WR/QUINCY ADEBOYEJO/ Ole Miss #18. He’s a fluid running, great looking athletic receiver who seems to glide downfield. But the results of his receiving efforts can be very inconsistent. Today’s practice was a good example. He got open and made a couple of very nice catches. Then he made a nice diving catch of a ball only to lose control of it rolling over. A couple plays later a coach was yelling at him for quitting on a route and failing to get off of a defender to complete his route. This mystery man is likely to continue to perplex scouts as the Draft process continues for the next few months.

I cannot tell you that I have been terribly impressed with OT/DIEUGOT JOSEPH of Florida International, but I will tell you that he was a very popular guy after practice as multiple team scouts cornered him for a some Q&A. First among them was a scout from the GIANTS. Joseph is a nice looking, well built prospect and my guess is he will be very popular when Round 4 rolls around in April.

Teams were called to midfield at mid-practice and some one-on-one pass rush work with Offense and Defense teammates cheering on their player trying to protect or sack the QB. It appeared as though the DL won 3-2, but several of the OL disputed the result. Amongst them was WILL HOLDEN when I asked about having to carry a DL’s pads to the bus after the practice. He strongly disputed the final result. Because of the competitive nature of these athletes this kind of exercise has become a popular tool by coaches to boost the energy levels. JASON GARRETT, Dallas HC used these drills at each practice last year at the Senior Bowl.

ADAM PANKEY/OG/WVU #57, is far from elite and a bit stiff, but when he’s inside at OG his lack of foot agility is masked and his strength and size stand out. He absolutely stoned the defender in the first of the above mentioned competitions. For a power running NFL team PANKEY could be a solid player at the next level.

A guy who really looks out of place and a bit overwhelmed at this level of competition, at least so far, has been DT/JASON CARR/WEST GEORGIA. He has very nice size and some athleticism, but seems to be out of place a lot and as a result gets easily pushed out of the action. I’m sincerely hoping that he catches up with his competition and shows more in the remainder of the week.

The day continued to warm up cracking the 80 degree mark by the time the WEST afternoon session got under way. RALPH GREEN/DT/INDIANA was once again very talkative and trying to lighten up the mood as warmups got underway. I recalled another player being similar with his cheer-leading approach from a few ears ago. BO MARCHIONTE and I were shooting blanks remember who that player was. MIKE MAYOCK came by and dragged him into our name search. He pulled us through remembering RB/JOHN CROCKETT who was on IR with PACKERS this season. GREEN is also rising for his play this week. He got my attention in IU’s Bowl Game and has looked good again so far in St. Pete.

Despite the announcement Monday that Toledo TE/MICHAEL ROBERTS had been added to the Senior Bowl roster, he WAS indeed at practice this afternoon. Guess I’d better ask him for clarification Wednesday as to whether he plans to play in both games or not.

I am enthralled with two of the West CB, in part because of their size and apparent athleticism. FABIAN MOREAU/UCLA was highly regarded two years ago but suffered a serious knee injury that cost him most of he 2015 season. I noticed that he looked like he had regained his speed watching UCLA last Fall. He looks really fast and fluid down here so far. Also in that secondary group is TRESTON DECOUD/Oregon State. I am not sure on his speed yet, but he’s even bigger and looks very athletic in drill work.

In today’s scrimmage action, all 3 of the RB group prospects showed very good receiving skills and the ability to get serious yards after catch. They are all pretty explosive once the ball is in their hands, and they know how to turn it upfield and find spaces in the secondary.

Speaking of the secondary, a serious pad popping open field tackle by S/LEON McQUAY got some serious attention from those of us near enough to the heat to feel the air go out of the receiver. Since no one was hurt will chick it up to being another case of good old-fashioned, hard hitting football.

JOSH AUGUSTA/DT/Missouri reminds me a lot of TERRANCE MT. CODY from ‘Bama a few years back. AUGUSTA is just huge and I hereby anoint him as MT. AUGUSTA. He can move a bit in a small area, but he also seems to specialize in just plowing into the backfield and hoping someone who he runs over just happens to have the ball in his hands.

The two most attention getting receivers for the West appear to be JALEN ROBINETTE/Air Force and AUSTIN CARR/Northwestern. ROBINETTE is the bigger, flashier player, while CARR is a sure handed, route running former walk-on for the Wildcats. Their contrasting styles of play make them a very intriguing duo for the West QB to target.

The grace period is over and I promise to spend serious time gauging the QB work on the practice fields Wednesday. They have had enough time, in All-Star Game domain, to absorb coaching, playbook & receiving styles of their new teammates.

Good night all.

Pigskin Paul

SHRINE WEEK 2017 DAY 1

Monday marked the first day of practices for Shrine Week in St. Pete. Partly cloudy skies which gave way to full sunshine by late afternoon and a high temp of about 78F. The EAST SQUAD took the practice field at Shore Crest Academy on the North side of town. A miscellaneous group of mostly young NFL assistant coaches was in charge and we hope to get a full coaching roster soon.

I hope whoever was the last one to leave the Ann Arbor football facility turned out the lights for Coach Harbaugh. There are 7 total Wolverines on the East squad, including 3 DB. The top ranked Wolverine here is likely CHANNING STRIBLING, a nice long (6’2) athlete who runs very well. I will check out his cover skills in the coming days. I guess we’ll find out how good of a coach JIM HARBAUGH will be for his alma mater next season as another 5 players are currently listed on the Senior Bowl roster.

I also noted that today on the Senior Bowl website TOLEDO TE/MIKE ROBERTS was added to their list of participants. I can tell you he was at practice for the West team here today. So he will either play in both games, or he may be MIA Tuesday afternoon when the West squad hits the practice field tomorrow down here. Stay tuned I will advise you if he’s still here Tuesday or not.

The main practice highlight, per usual, was the one-on-one pass pro drills between the DL/OL units. The automatic advantage in this drill goes to the D, since they can roam anywhere they want with their moves. To my eyes the clear overall winner today was WILL HOLDEN/OT/Vanderbilt. He’s a long armed 6’7 player with better foot agility than you might expect for his size. He took on defenders at both the OT & OG slots and won the majority of his match-ups. His draft stock rose in his senior season of college, and may still be ascending based on today’s work.

I didn’t see anyone dominate the drill on the defensive side but I will say DEANGELO BROWN/DT/Louisville bulled through more than a few blockers. He pretty quick for his 6’/300+lb. body, and has a few spin moves he uses to the surprise of blockers. I also thought that TREY HENDRICKSON/DE/FLorida Atlantic showed very nice quickness and body control in getting around/past blockers on occasion. I wonder if LANE KIFFIN is trying to uncover another year of eligibility for TREY back at FAU.

I spoke with JARROD “CHUNKY” CLEMENT/DT/Illinois as he sat watching practice with a walking boot on his right lower leg. He indicated that he would likely NOT be ready for the Combine, other than lifting there. So his Pro Day will be key. He says he got his nickname, CHUNK/CHUNKY from an Aunt. He describes himself as big kid, and when he first went to school he thought his name really was Chunky, not Jarrod. He is a well muscled young man, who when healthy could just be a legit NFL Draft prospect. I wonder if they still make the square candy bars called Chunky, which I remember very well as a kid and young adult?! The TV ad went; ‘Chunky, what a chunk of chocolate’, as whined nasally by comic Arnold Stange.

I may have found one of my first, ‘how does he project’ as an NFL prospect players today. He’s mighty might KERMIT WHITFIELD/WR/RS/Florida State. He’s about 5’8 and less than 180 lbs., but folks he’s fast and quick, and showed very good hands today at practice. He also appears to be fearless at catching over the middle and in traffic. He may also surface as a KR when game day rolls around. Keep his name filed away in your brain.

I also made myself a quick mental note, when I was surprised a what a smooth runner big LSU/TE/COLIN JETER looked like out there today. He had a couple nice catches and was not lumbering down the field. after the catch He looked like he can run at over 6’5 and 250+ lbs.

I will remind you that unless someone blows me away, I will not take a real critical look at the QBs here until Wednesday. There is so much for these guys to learn that I think it only fair to give them a couple of days with the playbook, their coaches and of course a whole new group of receivers.

I will also make an early mental note that I am not impressed initially by the LB group assembled for the East. That is made worse by the apparent absence of MARQUEL LEE, of Wake Forest who is the most impressive name on that LB list, IMO. Hope he shows up, healthy for Tuesday mornings practice, but I am not holding my breath on that account.

It’s only about a 15 minute drive to the south side of town and the practice field at St.Pete High School where the West Team works out.

When I got to the field a young Assistant Coach was auditioning long snappers. The Shrine does not recruit snappers to its game, primarily because it is against the game rules to rush & block kicks. The two aspiring snappers were OT/SAM TEVI & TE/BLAKE JARWIN. Neither one is ready to win an NFL LS job, but both were improving with each snap, more or less. If I have to pick one from what I saw I’d work with JARWN the remainder of the week. If nothing else though just being able to back up capably at that type of job just might win a guy a job next September.

As I moved around the field during warmups it suddenly struck me that this squad looked significantly bigger than the East team. I’m going to let that observation ride for now until I get official weigh-in results later in the week. The media is not invited to the weigh-in here as we are in Mobile next week. What’s up Mr. Richardson? Hint, hint, hint…

Consensus among three Draftniks, including yours truly, until proven otherwise (which could happen) AVERY GENNESY/OT/TEXAS A&M is likely the highest rated prospect at this game, at least coming into it. I joked with GENNESY as he was headed onto the team bus about our conclusion. He smiled said thank you, and said he was going to try hard to fulfill our ranking. I think he will.

As I walked along the sideline to change vantage points of drill work, I looked up at the sound of a booming kick. It was a high flying, big hang time punt from the leg of AUSTIN REHKOW of Idaho, who will handle Punting & Place Kicking chores for the West. I will get out the old stop watch in the next few days and determine if we have the best Punter since BRYAN ANGER touched the sky with a few several years ago. Let me just say there were several NFL scouts around him after practice as I headed his way. Usually I’m one of the few guys seeking out the kickers/punters/long snappers. I’ll catch him another day… I think.

An intriguing player here is clearly man/child WR/BILLY BROWN/Shepherd. He does indeed run like a WR, but he’s 6’4 and over 240 lbs. He is a physical specimen and he looks smooth running patterns and catching the ball. He should be exciting to watch and why Draftniks & Scouts alike are delighted to see kids like this from smaller schools playing with the big school boys for a whole week.

Seeing a lot of action, and responding well today was WISCONSIN RB/DARE OGUNBOWALE. He was second fiddle to COREY CLEMENT for the Badgers, but is a solidly built player, who can run with some quickness, catches the ball out of the backfield well, and can play on any Special Teams unit you want him to. He had a couple of hard, slashing runs today and looks to be a coaches’ favorite already.

Defensively, it looks like the team cheerleader is going to be RALPH GREEN/DT/INDIANA. He’s an athletic looking 6’5/ 300 pounder, who encourages and congratulates teammates constantly. I picked up on his positive energy in IU’s narrow Bowl loss. I will be anxious to see how his game holds up against the big OL in practice this week.

Physical specimen of the day, beyond BROWN is probably DE/DEATRICH WISE/Arkansas. He’s a full 6’6 and plays even longer, plus it looks like he can run and chase all day long. The reason he is not a household name is that he had trouble staying on the field for the Razorbacks. By the middle of the 2016 season the Arkansas coaching staff was using him in passing situations, since getting to the QB is his claim to fame. He was very active today. He reminds me of a more athletic MARGUS HUNT/DE of the Bengals. Now let’s see if he can sustain this effort and remain healthy for the whole week and into the gamer itself.

That’s it for today people. I’m sure some other guys will stand out on Tuesday, without too many of these guys fading away. I am sure I will have no trouble finding some additional players to report to you on in the upcoming days. I believe there are a lot of Day 3 Draft prospects on these two teams, just like last year. I’ll also try to find the handful that will push themselves into the Top 100 lists heading forward from this venue.

Cheers from St. Pete!

Pigskin

SHRINE GAME Chatter

Players will begin showing up for the Shrine Week activities this weekend, with the game scheduled for the 21st. Sunday will be the day that players find out what this game is really all about with visits to the Shriners’ Children’s Hospital in Tampa. ‘Strong legs run, so weak legs may walk’.
This year’s event will mark the 92nd Shrine Classic, with the first game having been played in 1925. Sometime back in the ’60’s the Senior Bowl passed the Shrine Game as the pre-eminent Star game, aided in great part by their partnership with the NFL to provide coaching staffs for the game. That and the emergence of the SEC as a true power conference for providing players to the game.

Most of the Shrine’s history lies on the West Coast. I recall as a youngster watching the Shrine Game being played in Palo Alto at STANFORD Stadium. I believe I was watching it on ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcasts initially. Like me, the game has now been in Florida since 2010. The first two years they were in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl, and 2017 will mark their 6th year at The Trop in St. Pete.
The biggest change for the 2017 game edition will be that the coaching staffs will be comprised of up-and-coming young NFL Assistant Coaches. You can read more about the selection process at the Shrine website, www.shrinegame.com . I’m anxious to see how that new process works out, but am most pleased to see the Shrine and NFL forging more of a partnership around the game.
Overall the Shrine venue now plays second fiddle to the Senior Bowl in player procurement. Most agents will suggest their player clients head to Mobile if invited, with the Shrine Game being the back-up option. This can be challenging for Game Director Harold Richardson and his staff as players initially committed to the Shrine Game get late invites from the Senior Bowl as injured and elite players back out of their prior commitments to that venue, thus leaving the Shrine Game to find bodies to fill their rosters. Thanks to some informed consultant work, by DAN SHONKA of Ourlads in particular, some very worthy replacement players are brought in right up until game time.

So what’s up with this year’s crop of prospects who will be in action down here.

As usual there is a large and decent quality group of DB in this year’s contest. I am particularly interested to watch S/WESTON STEELHAMMER/Air Force (what a great football name), TEDRIC THOMPSON/S/Colorado, FABIAN MOREAU/CB/UCLA & BRAD WATSON/DB/WAKE. DB is usually one of the top groups at the Shrine venue.
The WR group is not stellar, but there looks to be some potential pros on hand. Of particular interest to me there are STACY COLEY/MIAMI, RODNEY ADAMS/USF, and AUSTIN CARR/northwestern. I am also anxious to see small school standout BILLY BROWN, a big wideout (6’4/240) from Sheperd College. I’ve seen his name around, but never watched him in action personally.

One of the more interesting prospects in this game could be DEATRICH WISE/DE/ARkansas. WISE has the look of an elite pass rusher, but has been dogged by constant injuries during his college career. I am anxious to watch him in action, and frankly to see if he makes it healthy to game day. On the interior DL DEANGELO BROWN of Louisville has gotten rave reviews from some, and indifference from other Draftniks. He’ll be high on my watch list next week.

I will also be looking for a sleeper or two within the OL groups. Normally there are some pretty impressive OL candidates in those groups, but as has been noted almost everywhere this year’s crop along the OL is a bit down in general. AVERY GENNESY/T/TX A&M, EVAN GOODMAN/T/G/ARIZ ST, DAN SKIPPER/OT/ARKANSAS, WILLIAM HOLDEN/T/VANDY & ALEX KOZAN/G/Auburn stand out for me right now.

As has been a continuing trend this decade there are a goodly number of famous last names in this group. GUNNER KIEL is related to former Notre Dame QB/BLAIR KIEL. TREY GRIFFEY/WR is indeed the son of former MLB star KEN GRIFFEY, JR. HARDY NICKERSON/LB/Illinois is the son of the father of the same name who starred at LB in the NFL, primarily for the Steelers. DE/BRYAN COX/Florida is indeed the son of the former NFL LB of the same name. There a few other familiar names on the rosters that I need to research a bit more to check their football family tree.

A big key to an exciting game always revolves around the QB group, depending upon their talent level and how quickly they grasp the schemes being taught by the game coaches. In most instances after only a week of practices, with all new receivers, the Defense dominates the action. Guys who may prove to be the most serviceable in generating some offensive juice for this game may be ZACH TERRELL/W. Michigan and COOPER RUSH/C. Michigan, both from the MAC, but playing on opposing squads in this contest fortunately. Those two may be the best actual long term pro prospects, but keep you eyes peeled on NICK MULLENS of S. Mississippi, who may possess the best all around tools for an All-Star venue with a strong arm and good wheels to move around and extend plays, ala CHASE DANIELS coming out of Missouri some years ago.

After Monday morning weigh-in proceedings both teams will practice in the afternoon. Those practices are limited, and just a notch above walk-throughs, but will give us a chance to get a feel for athleticism and energy level early on. I should have some tidbits for you Monday night, albeit a bit later in the evening than the rest of the week.

Don’t forget folks that the proceeds from this game go to support the Shriners’ string of children’s’ hospitals and medical research. IF you can afford it go to their website www.shrinegame.com and make a donation if you can’t attend the game. You folks in the Tampa Bay area buy a game ticket or two and head to the Trop next Saturday afternoon. Let’s get attendance above 30,000 for this year’s game.

Cheers all!

Pigskin

pigskin shrine game review

by Pigskin Paul Guillemette

That faint echo you hear is the wailing and gnashing of teeth around the NFL in Personnel Departments as they pore over game tape from yesterday’s SHRINE GAME action and realize there is no way to deny the poor quality of QB play Saturday, other than the lone exception of VERNON ADAMS/Oregon.

And with ADAMS, we will now be bombarded with the RUSSELL WILSON comparisons for another month or more. For a quarter plus in the first half ADAMS really did look like WILSON, and the results were reflected on the scoreboard. ADAMS was 6/9, 191 yards, 3 TD passes, 0 INT. When the pocket broke down, which was often, ADAMS was able to keep plays alive with his eyes and legs. He took off twice for an additional 24 yards rushing. And the tape of the tape also begs for those comparisons to WILSON for the most part. He stands 5’105″ just like WILSON and is a bit lighter at 195 lbs. But the biggest number gap is in their hand size. One of the deciding factors for the Sea Hawks was that despite being under six-feet tall, WILSON’s hands were an impressive 10 1/2″ spread. ADAMS hands are very small at 8 3/4″. Gripping and spinning an NFL football may be a challenge at times for ADAMS when wet and cold weather hits, not to mention defenders trying to strip the ball from him. My guess is he will put up some athletic looking numbers at the Combine which will further compound the debate about his true pro potential. There can be no denying that he was head and shoulders above the other 5 QB once the actual game began in St. Pete last night.

A special shout-out to GRAHAM GLASGOW/OC/MICHIGAN who chose to stay and play in the game even though he was given a call on Friday and invited to participate in the upcoming Senior Bowl. That scenario has occurred in the past and in most instances I have seen players pack their bags and head immediately for Mobile leaving their Shrine Team another man short. GLASGOW stuck around and anchored the OL for the East. Well done Mr. Glasgow. See you in Mobile Tuesday morning.

I saw nothing during the game to change my opinion that this game featured two Punters who will both earn NFL jobs in the next year or so. Both WILL MONDAY and DREW KASER had excellent days in every aspect of the punting game. They both had serious impact on field position on the day. MONDAY had 6 punts for an average of 50.3 yards per. His 43.2 net average tells you that he had good hang time and allowed his coverage units to limit return yardage significantly. He had 1 Touchback and 1 placed inside the 20. That’s a really good day! But it’s possible that KASER was even more effective. KASER punted 5 times for an average of 49.6. His net average was even more impressive at 47.8, once again telling you his hang times were excellent. KASER had 0 Touchbacks, with 4 kicks downed inside the 20. Unless all the weekly talk of Special Teams value in the NFL is just cheap bar talk, then both of these guys could be draftable.

A major disappointment for many fans was the back injury that kept NAVY/QB/RB/KEENAN REYNOLDS from participating in the contest. But IMO it had a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Even though REYNOLDS was listed as a RB on the East roster HC CHARLIE WEISS had been using him in practices as a short yardage QB, running more of an option offense. His absence was likely a major factor in one of the more telling stats of the game. The East was a pathetic 1 of 15 on 3rd Down conversions. That translates to a 7% number. More than a few of those 3rd Downs were fairly short yardage where REYNOLDS might have made a huge difference with his running and decision making. Charlie Weiss and his Offensive game planning had to be missing REYNOLDS tremendously.

I cast my Game MVP votes for MIKE CAPUTO/S/WEST on D, and GERONIMO ALLISON/WR/WEST on O. But I understand why QB/VERNON ADAMS got the offensive award. And in retrospect, I perhaps should have voted for VICTOR OCHI/DE/EAST for that defensive award.

Here is my All-Star lineup for the game itself.

QB VERNON ADAMS/Oregon
RB JOSH FERGUSON/Illinois
FB DEREK WATT/Wisconsin
WR GERONIMO ALLISON/ILLINOIS
WR DANNY ANTHROP/Purdue
TE KIVON CARTWRIGHT/Colorado State
T BRANDON SHELL/South Carolina
T TYLER MARZ/Wisconsin
G ALEX HUETTEL/Bowling Green
G TED KARRAS/Illinois
C GRAHAM GLASGOW/Michigan

DE EKUBA ONYEMATA/Manitoba
DE VICTOR OCHI/Stony Brook
DT JAVON HARGRAVE/South Carolina State
DT CORY JOHNSON/Kentucky
LB JAMES BURGESS/Louisville
LB AARON WALLACE/UCLA
LB ANTONIO LONGINO/Arizona State
CB BRIAN POOLE/Florida
CB CRE’VON LEBLANC/Florida Atlantic
S MIKE CAPUTO/Wisconsin
S JUSTIN SIMMONS/Boston College

It was a great week of practices and the quality of the rosters was as good as I have seen in the last 7 years, since the move to Florida. No serious injuries occurred even though a total of 7 players who practiced last Monday were not healthy enough to play in Saturday’s game. I would say the biggest disappointment in the end was the overall poor QB play in the game.

See you next year Shriners, and I will be on the road to Mobile Monday morning.

Pigskin Paul

Grumpy’s Shrine Game Report

by Grumpy Lindsay, GBN Editor and Publisher

The small SHALL inherit the earth … That was the theme of the football sermon during Saturday’s East-West Shrine all-star game in St. Petersburg where Oregon QB Vernon Adams was the unquestioned star of the game. Indeed, while the other QBs all struggled to one degree or another, Adams who looked all the part of the second coming of Russell Wilson just looked like he was having fun out there. He was certainly in control as he led the West team to TDs on each of his three drives. In the process, Adams was quick, elusive and confident. What one really liked about Adams was that his eyes were always looking downfield even as he darted around avoiding the rush. And while he doesn’t appear to have Wilson’s pure arm strength, Adams has a quick release and throws a very catchable ball. Of course, the enduring question for Adams will be that, at 5-10.5, he lacks the prototype size for an NFL pocket passer; however, Wilson may have broken that mold with the Seahawks so it will be intriguing to see when some team pulls the trigger on Adams come this year’s draft in April.

What was unusual about Adams’ game was that QBs are almost at a disadvantage in all-star game settings as they are usually working with new receivers in an unfamiliar offense; however, Adams looked like he’d been working with his teammates all fall. Not so much the other QBs in the Shrine game, though, as none was able to do much to enhance their draft grade. In particular, they either showed some arm strength, but didn’t always seem to know where the ball was going (Nate Sudfield of Indiana; Wisconsin’s Joel Stave, and UMass’ Blake Frohnapfel) or looked more like touch passers (Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty and Jake Rudock of Michigan) who also didn’t always know where the ball was going. Indeed, WKU’s Doughty had a couple of passes picked up, while three of the other four also threw an interception.

At the same time, a pair of undersized defensive linemen from lower level schools were able to build on their strong week of practice in the actual Shrine game. Unheralded DE Victor Ochi of unheralded Stony Brook, for example, was a thorn in the side of the West offense all day; Ochi only measured in at 6-1, 245 at the Shrine weigh-in, but in Saturday’s game he was just exploding off the snap, all the while making himself hard to block as he kept his pads low, used his 33.5 arms effectively to get off blocks and was relentless in pursuit. However, while he dominated with his hand on the ground in St. Petersburg, Ochi is still likely too small to play DE at the next level and will probably have a find a role as a 3-4 edge-rushing OLB.
Meanwhile, South Carolina State DT Javon Hargrave, arguably the best player in the week’s practice sessions, was almost as good as Ochi, although maybe not quite as noticeable in the game as he was working inside. However, the West team paid Hargrave the ultimate compliment in an all-star game setting by double-teaming him on most plays. Indeed, Hargrave was almost as quick off the snap as the much smaller Ochi and was just plain violent when contacting opposing blockers. And like Ochi, Hargrave looks to be able to take advantage of his ‘shortish’ (6-1) stature in that he plays with a naturally low pad level with the ability quickly redirect his charge after bouncing off initial contact; for good measure, Hargrave was just relentless chasing down the ball. If there was an area Hargrave needs to work on, though, is that at times he penetrated the backfield too quickly and deeply and tended to overrun plays.

Several other defensive linemen also had pretty good Shrine games as overall they won more than their share of individual battles with their opposite numbers on the offensive side of the ball. DTs David Dean of Virginia and Florida Atlantic’s Trevon Coley, for example, both showed surprising quickness off the snap, while North Carolina State DE Mike Rose was able to get consistently get pressure on the pocket coming around the corner as he showed nice get-off and the strength to maintain leverage despite the fact he has relatively short (31 ¼ inch) arms. Meanwhile, tweener DEs Aziz Shittu of Stanford and Canadian David Onyemata of Manitoba also had strong games. Onyemata, in particular, was something of a revelation. He’s built more like a DT at 6-3, 305, but was very quick and athletic for a guy that size as he consistently showed nice change of direction and acceleration skills.

On the other hand, defensive linemen that had disappointing games included Penn State DT Anthony Zettel and Notre Dame DE Romeo Okwara. Zettel, in particular, looked lost at times; he struggled to find the ball as he was bounced around like a top and just never seemed to be able to set his feet properly and anchor. Meanwhile, Okwara looked the part of a long, lead edge rusher with 35 ½ inch arms; he also ran well in space and showed good energy. However, there was just too much wasted movement when Okwara engaged with blockers such that he seldom was able to generate much separation, even with those long arms, and seldom threatened the actual pocket. With Okwara, though, there were signs of some natural athletic such that some 3-4 teams may look hard at him as an edge-rushing OLB where he would have a little more space to operate.

Teams looking for a potential sleeper at LT, even a developmental type, were probably disappointed with what they saw at the shrine game. Indeed, the only OT to show even a hint of the kind of athleticism teams are usually looking for in that position was Tyler Marz of Wisconsin. Marz actually played on the right side for much of the game, before switching sides where he did a nice job neutralizing Stony Brooks’ Ochi in the latter stages of the game. While hardly a dancing bear, Marz was very economical and technically sound with his movements and hand placement. Marz showed good balance and the ability to cleanly mirror with the ability to replant and change direction; he was also able to consistently lock on, although at only 33-inches, he doesn’t have particularly long arms. South Carolina RT Brandon Shell also had a solid game after a solid week of practice. He’s another huge guy (6-6, 325) with the strength to lock when he got his hands on the pass rusher; and again, whiel no dancing bear type, Shell did appear to have at least adequate feet and change of direction skills, although he tended to look a little clumsy when trying to cut-block the defender in front of him.

On the other several other big OTs including Stephane Nembot of Colorado and Keith Lumpkin of Rutgers really struggled when they were forced to move more than 2-3 steps, plus both were very slow planting and redirecting. At the same time, it would not be a stretch to say that Fahn Cooper of Ole Miss and Arizona’s Lene Maiava looked totally out of place trying to protect the edge such that it would appear there only hope at the next level would be to kick inside to OG. Meanwhile, Nebraska OT Alex Lewis, who reportedly was one of the best players at practice last week in St. Petersburg, also really struggled to cut off the edge. He just wasn’t very quick or compact coming out of the snap and was slow to get his arms extended; as a result, he ended up spending much of the afternoon either pushing and chasing edge rushers on their way to the pocket.
In fact, one could make a pretty good case that the best offensive lineman in the actual Shrine game was UCLA C/G Jake Brendel. Brendel was textbook all day with a quick, smooth set, along with good balance and functional strength; plus he took no prisoners and battled to the whistle. North Carolina State OG Joe Thuney also had a solid afternoon, as did Bowling Green OG Alex Huettel, while Illinois OG Ted Karras of the famous football family, wasn’t real smooth, but more than got the job done with a combination of strength and tenacity.

Other notables:
• Wisconsin SS Mike Caputo, the Shrine game’s defensive MVP, had a couple of picks including a well-timed interception off of former Badgers’ teammate Joel Stave.
• Illinois RB Josh Ferguson: undersized, but very quick and instinctive; California RB Daniel Lasco also had a pretty good all-around game
• Fellow Illini WR Geronimo Allison isn’t going to win many foot races, plus he bobbled a couple of balls early, but is a rangy receiver with long arms and impressive catch radius; he also showed some decent initial quickness and wasfeisty as a downfield blocker.
• Florida Atlantic CB Cre’von Leblanc was very sticky in coverage; same for Briean Boddy-Calhoun of Minnesota
• Speaking of small: Utah LB Gionni Paul, who measured in at under 5-10 and 232 pounds at the Shrine weigh-in, did get caught up in the trash on occasion, but made like a heat-seeking missile in space with several thumping tackles that probably had special teams coaches around the NFL smiling in appreciation.

SHRINE GAME Gameday

Hopefully you have been following my practice reports all week and have some ideas of what to watch for this afternoon. But at the risk of shooting myself in the foot let me start the gameday coverage with some projections and other last minute observations.

The good news for most fans is that I still expect both Head Coaches, CHARLIE WEISS and JUNE JONES, to open things up quite a bit with their offenses today. Even though none of the elite QB prospects are on hand here it is a very solid group overall. I would still maintain that with BRANDON DOUGHTY and NATE SUDFELD in tow the West has a potential distinct advantage in this contest offensively. Those tow can really spin the ball and I guarantee JONES has some plays dialed up to take the top off of the East Defense. Even though practice injuries have depleted any semblance of depth within his receiving corps JONES has been effusive in his praise of DEVIN CAJUSTE, JRED DANGERFIELD and especially GERONIMO ALLISON. Out of the backfield DANIEL LASCO and DEREK WATT have also done a solid job all week slipping out to make some nice catches and display serious run-after-catch ability.

For the EAST JOEL STAVE/QB/WISCONSIN has looked like the best overall QB option with good mobility and solid field vision to find his open receivers. STAVE appears to have made solid progress as a QB prospect in 2015 under new Badgers Head Coach PAUL CHRYST. HIs main target should be WR/RASHAWN SCOTT of MIami, who may be the best overall prospect in the game based on practices this past week. He and TAJAE’ SHARPE are likely to lead the East Offense. Meanwhile TE/DARION GRISWOLD has been very impressive with his size, reliable hands and the ability to run over defenders after the catch. JOSH FERGUSON/RB is exceptional as a receiver with soft hands and elusive running after the catch.

A big help to offensive production could also come from some outstanding OT prospects on both squads, which could mitigate pass-rushing DEs, in contrast with last year’s game where Edge Rushers ran wild in the offensive backfields.

From what I saw in practices another contributing factor to more scoring could be a fairly mediocre group of S for both teams. Receivers for both teams were torching secondaries deep all week in practices. The S group simply could not keep up with the receivers in most practices.

So without knowing what the Vegas lines are for this game let me just say, I’d bet the over relative to the final score.

PS Let me add that it may be interesting after the game to see where Colin and I agree and disagree on Top Performers.

Here are some more names to watch for today:

East
#35 JOHN LUNSFORD K
#71 BRANDON SHELL OT
#74 FAHN COOPER OT
#5 CRE’VON LEBLANC CB
#97 JAVON HARGRAVE DT
#44 TERRANCE SMITH LB
#24 BRIAN POOLE CB

WEST
#71 ALEX LEWIS OT
#69 TED KARRAS OG
#86 KIVON CARTWRIGHT TE
#38 DREW KASER P
#67 CJ JOHNSON DT
#97 EBUKA ONYEMATA/DE
#13 PAUL GIONNI LB

SRHINE GAME Practice Wrap

Thursday was the final day of real practices, and was spent mostly on Special Teams work. Both practice sessions looked like ghost towns compared to earlier in the week. NFL Personnel people pretty much all left town Wednesday night or Thursday morning. NO doubt most are headed home to see their families before jumping back into things next week in Mobile. Even the White Ghost, TED THOMPSON, had left and could not be found perched beneath goal posts scrutinizing things.

For anyone going to, or watching the Shrine Game itself here is a list of guys that you will not see out on the field Saturday afternoon because of injuries.
HUNTER SHARP/WR/UTAH STATE WEST
RYAN MALLECK/TE/VA TECH WEST
DAVID MORGAN/TE/UT SAN ANTONIO

I would editorialize and say this leaves HC JUNE JONES and his West staff very thin at the skill positions. His roster now only has 2 RB, 1 TE, 4 WR. And of course, the do everything erstwhile FB/DEREK WATT. UPdate on Derek, he is now the number two long snapper for the West Squad. Let us just hope extra hard that injuries do not cripple this group during the game.

KEENAN REYNOLDS/RB/QB/NAVY
RPBERT KUGLER/OC/PURDUE
CONNOR WUJCIAK/DT

KUGLER is limited by a hamstring issue and likely will suit up but not play. REYNOLDS looks to be out and that would affect the East offensive designs of HC CHARLIE WEISS. You will remember that I told you REYNOLDS was being used as a QB for short yardage running situations.

The best news overall on the injury front is the fact that no one appears to have suffered a major long term injury, which is the dreaded nightmare for these games and a big reason you will not see some top prospects at the Senior Bowl next week. Agents dread that injury risk even more than the players themselves.

I had some sideline chats with the kicking specialists for the East while lineups were being juggled out on the field Thursday.

PK/JOHN LUNSFORD is an interesting guy, in more ways than one. A confident but not cocky guy he feels he can kick at the pro level if given the chance. He played his college ball at LIBERTY under HC TURNER GILL whose name should be familiar to many of you. He had looked OK on Tuesday looking solid out to about 45 yards, but that was into a gusting wind in his face. My ears perked off on his first two kick-off efforts today because I heard that explosive sound as his foot struck the football. Not all kickers get that sound. It’s more of a boom than a thud and tells me the ball was struck by a powerful leg. Two guys I remember clearly having that booming leg, as I refer to it, at an All-Star venue were P/BRYAN ANGER & K/STEVEN GOSTKOWSKI. THey’ve worked out pretty well in the League, IMO.
Before practice officially started LUNSFORD was long snapping to WILL MONDAY/P. And the snaps were impressive in both accuracy and velocity. JOHN told me he had snapped some in his college career and was the back-up for the upcoming game to TE/STEPHEN SCHEU on Punt snaps. My mind wandered and I could only picture him snapping to his holder MONDAY and then sprinting back to also kick the FG attempt. Not happening, but it flashed through my mind. I like this kid and think he has an NFL leg and confidence level.

His partner in crime for the week is WILL MONDAY/P/Duke. MONDAY is as little more laid back than LUNSFORD and felt I should indeed be able to clock some 5-second plus Punts on Saturday. IN watching his limited on-field work he is not just a big leg. He knows how to drop the ball for backspin and sidespin. I think he too has legit potential.

Looking at my notes I believe I failed to mention a couple of players who I had positive notes on this week. How about one from each squad.

FAHN COOPER/OT/OLE MISS #74, Coop as he is often called is a very good looking athlete with a full sized, conditioned body. At 6’5 and over 300 lbs. he has the strength and length to control most of the DL he’s taking on down here. I think he got lost in the shuffle a bit at Ole Miss with everyone zeroed in on elite prospect LAREMY TUNSIL. But COOPER may have a shot at a Top 100 prospect ranking.

For the West team TED KARRAS/OG/ILLINOIS #69 has had a real solid week down here. He’s strong but also has good mobility. He also plays like a savvy veteran after a full career for the Illini. He struck me as the best interior OL on the West this week. His Great Uncle was the late ALEX KARRAS who had a good NFL career before heading to Hollywood.

Drum roll please… Time to unveil my Shrine Game All-Star practice team. This is based on what I saw from players this week and to some degree how well their skills may translate to an NFL career. No honorable mention just 22 guys.

QB BRANDON DOUGHTY/W KENTUCKY #12 W
RB JOSH FERGUSON/ILLINOIS #6 E
FB DEREK WATT/WISCONSIN #34 W
WR RASHAWN SCOTT/MIAMI #11 E
WR HUNTER SHARP/UTAH STATE #14 W
TE DARION GRISWOLD/TE #89 E
T BRANDON SHELL/S CAROLINA #71 E
T ALEX LEWIS/NEBRASKA #71 W
G TED KARRAS/ILLINOIS #69 W
G PARKER EHINGER/CINCINNATI #78 E
C GRAHAM GLASGOW/MICHIGAN #61 E

DE/ER VICTOR OCHI/STONY BROOK #91 E
DE DEAN LOWRY/NORTHWESTERN #94 E
DT CORY JOHNSON/KENTUCKY #67 W
DT JAVON HARGRAVE/SOUTH CAROLINA ST #97 E
LB JAMES BURGESS/LOUISVILLE #43 E
LB CORY JAMES/COLORADO ST #31 W
LB TERRANCE SMITH/FLORIDA STATE #44 E
CB BRIAN POOLE/FLORIDA #24 E
CB BRIEAN BODDY-CALHOUN/MINNESOTA #29 W
S R.J. WILLIAMSON/MICHIGAN STATE #26 W
S ANDREW WILLIAMSON/VANDERBILT #32 E

And as a parting note it seems clear to me that the football career thing does not work out of CORY “CJ” JOHNSON/DT he may have a career as a late night FM DJ. He has that deep, rich voice similar IMO to The Black Moses/ISAAC HAYES. Buy this guy a set of body chains someone… please!

Good day from Florida.

And please support SHRINE CHARITIES. Watch the game on NFL Network Saturday, starting at 4PM, Eastern time. Or better yet buy a couple of tickets online and donate them for charitable distribution. The old Shrine Game motto says it all…

Strong legs run so that weak legs may walk!

SHRINE WEEK Wednesday Report

Wednesday is always the highlight day of Shrine Week. The players have had three days to meet with their coaches and absorb football information. Hopefully they have assimilated that information and can execute on the grass based upon it. So today is the day that the coaches ramp up the intensity and pace of practice. And of course the hope, and expectation, is that the players will respond accordingly. Overall all I think they did.

EAST PRACTICE
I felt a positive development at this mornings practice was an awakening of a previously slumbering giant, DT/NILE LAWRENCE-STAMPLE/FSU #95. I perceived a real sense of urgency in his play today really for the first time this week. His motor was running hot from the first drill to last scrimmage action. He showed some of the power and mobility that he exhibited as a senior for the Seminoles. He was quite the handful for blockers trying to move him off of the ball today.

It seems as though CHARLIE WEISS also hit his stride today. His caustic tongue was on display as soon as warm-ups were over. As his team broke into position groups to begin some drills he was yelling at a cluster of about 6 Trainers who were still congregated at midfield, on the playing surface. He sent a clear message that they needed to move to the sidelines… immediately. On several other occasions he let loose with his barbed tongue when he felt players were slacking off or underperforming.

WEISS was also digging deep into his playbook with misdirection plays, flea flickers, and option QB scenarios with former Navy QB/KEENAN REYNOLDS running short yardage plays. Unless he really pulls in the reins come Saturday the West D had best be prepared for a little more variety than the normal All-Star Game vanilla and chocolate play calling. The same could be said of the afternoon play calling under HC JUNE JONES at West practice. IMO, this could be a break through situation. Fans at a Star game don’t want to see a 13-6 defensive struggle. They want some excitement and wide open offense. They just may get it this weekend from these two head coaches.
Based on today’s practice I think WEISS may attempt to run the ball a bit more than we are accustomed to in a Star game, but I do not mean he’ll be conservative overall.

For the third straight day TE/DARION GRISWOLD/#89 had another couple of nice grabs including a long gainer, after which WEISS yelled out that he looked like a ‘slow moving freight train’. I think that was actually meant as a compliment. Many of the smaller defenders don’t look like they really want to tackle him after the catch when he picks up a head of steam.

It must have been a Seminoles Wednesday because another FSU player, LB/TERRANCE SMITH/#44 really put on a show when the Offense began to throw a proliferation of screen passes. SMITH began to read the formations and QB eyes after a couple of said calls and began to make tackles behind the line-of-scrimmage on the unfortunate receivers. He looks very much to me like TELVIN SMITH, who plays for the JAGUARS in his physique and style of play.

CRE’VON LeBLANC/CB/FAU/#5 showed his excellent quickness out on the corner with several nice break-ups and/or tackles for short gains. He has decent size and I would surmise plenty of speed to go with that quickness. Florida Atlantic may not be a powerhouse but they ranked very high on the defensive side of the ball in D-1 play. Watch for this guy at the Combine.

WEISS unleashed his sarcastic wit late in practice when it was time for some kick coverage work. He yelled to his assistants to start the work with all linemen covering the first kick. He said to get the “fat guy” coverage unit in place up on the line. When that was over and the next line of coverage guys took the field, who should be at one “gunner” slot but QB/JAKE RUDOCK/#10. All I could think of to myself was that it had to be a HARBAUGH thing for RUDOCK to assume a gunner’s role in kick coverage. He sprinted downfield and took a solid block from someone.

WEST PRACTICE
The pace and style at this session was very similar to the morning practice. JUNE JONES unleashed his aerial attack offense on several occasions during the two hour practice. And much to my surprise what I had thought to be a pretty mediocre WR group really came to life.
#14/HUNTER SHARP/Utah State was the absolute star of the afternoon. He made catches in traffic over the middle, and over the shoulder sideline grabs that left DB on the ground. He created just enough separation to make at least 5 catches that I counted. His quickness in and out of cuts and open field after the catch was impressive.
But he and the QBs had plenty of help confusing the Defense from DEVIN CAJUSTE/STANFORD/#89 who plays WR but stands 6’3 and weighs 234 lbs. He’s not blazing fast but as he gains momentum he separates form even the CB group. He’s clearly helped by sure hands, which measure 10 5/8″, and arms that stretch out to 32 3/4″. He gets to everything and runs over defenders after the catch.
Then you throw in JARED DANGERFIELD/WR/#82 who played with QB/DOUGHTY at WKU, who earned a lot of respect today. He’s bigger than fast at 6’014/214#, but has displayed excellent hands all week.
I have changed my mind and would now suggest that these guys as a group may have more impact of game day than the highly regarded East WR corps.

If some of you have seen the Heisman House commercial where STEVE SPURRIER shows up for a banquet in a suit but with no shirt on, word from a certain former Gamecock on the West squad is that it’s not out of character for the Ole Ball Coach. This player indicated to me that on hot days in Columbia, SC SPURRIER was notorious for shedding his shirt at practice. Maybe even his shoes as well to cool off in the hot sun.

The “player of the day” at this practice was clearly DEREK WATT/Wisconsin/FB/#34. By the end of the practice session WATT had done his very best impersonation of a Swiss Army Knife. WATT has spent time at FB/RB/H-B/TE, and of course is on just about every Special Teams unit the team has. Then at the conclusion of practice Special Teams Coach DENNIS McKINGHT took him to the sideline to see if he might be able to handle long snaps. WATT sailed a couple over his head, but showed very good snap fundamentals & ball speed and got more accurate the more he snapped. McKNIGHT suggested they would work on this a bit more at practice Friday. Then McKnight said to WATT; ‘Your brother is going to the HOF some day, but with your skills and attitude you’ll play longer in the NFL if you want to.’ And he was not kidding.
I suggested the Swiss Army Knife concept to TED THOMPSON who was watching the exchange in close proximity to me. His response was ‘He sure is a football player’. ‘Nuff said TED.

Today was my day to put a rankings list together of the 6 QB on these two rosters. So here we go:

1) BRANDON DOUGHTY/W KENTUCKY STATE/#12 West He’s the most accurate passer and is consistent with his basic throwing mechanics. He also seems to read the field well and make sound decisions. He has plenty of arm and really throws a nice deep ball.

2) NATHAN SUDFELD/INDIANA/#7 West The strongest arm by far and a good reader of the D. But his accuracy fluctuates and he can forget to put touch on shorter throws. More mobile than you might think given his size; 6’060/236 lbs.

These two guys have a chance to go in or near the Top 100 in the 2016 Draft. Now the rest…

3) JOEL STAVE/WISCONSIN/#14 East Even I have tried to bury him as a prospect for his propensity to throw picks and miss 3rd down throws. But he has a live arm, very good mobility, ideal size (6’045″, 229 lbs) and solid leadership command of a huddle. He makes 3 or 4 good plays, then one really bad one. Might get drafted late, but I doubt it. But he could stick as a 3rd QB and maybe develop into a decent NFL back-up.

4) JAKE RUDOCK/MICHIGAN/#10 East His year under HARBAUGH really helped him as an overall QB. He has an average arm but sees the field well. Throws a catchable ball. He can move a bit, but you watch him and realize he probably just doesn’t have enough tools to compete at the highest level.

5) BLAKE FROHNAPFEL/UMASS/#7 East This tall, gangly guy has some potential but lacks sound fundamentals. He has an average arm, but his ball flutters much of the time. He tends to stare down his primary receiver. The issue here is in part that he played in a poor program and just went out each week throwing all over the place trying to keep up with scoring by opponents. If he has any long term talent it’s going to take years on a Practice Squad to develop it.

5) VERNON ADAMS/OREGON/#3 West Despite some rumors to the contrary, this is not the next RUSSELL WILSON, just because he’s short and athletic. He struggles with arm strength on long throws. And a big part of some of his throwing issues is hand size. Whereas Seattle felt that veteran savvy and a 10 1/2″ hand made WILSON worth rolling the dice on, ADAMS hand measures a mere 8 3/4″ spread. That is tiny folks. He’ll end up as an URFA with little chance to make an NFL team as a QB, IMO.

Good night to you all from Florida.

Pigskin Paul

Shrine Game Tuesday

It was a crisp and windy morning in St. Pete Tuesday with temps in the low 40’s as the East practice began. Being almost on the bay meant the wind was coming in crisply across the cold Winter water of Tampa Bay. I ran into PACKERS GM TED THOMPSON entering the field area. When I asked him how he was doing, he said he wasn’t sure because he was thrown off by the surprising Florida cold. He wasn’t alone as most folks there looked cold and uncomfortable. I almost went back to my car to get gloves out of the trunk.

BRANDON SHELL/OT/S. CAROLINA/#71 is looking as large as advertised and maybe more athletic than many supposed. He’s fairly quick off the snap and has used his size to great advantage in most one-on-one drills. If genes run deep then the great nephew of the late ART SHELL could have a bright pro future in the NFL.

The East has a very talented WR group and the best by far is probably RASHAWN SCOTT/MIAMI/#11. In two practices he looks to have everything scouts look for in a WR. He has nice size at about 6’2 and 200 lbs. He has shown excellent hands and runs precise patterns. He is beating the DB trying to cover him, and even when covered he snatches the ball away from the DB. His hands look very large compared to his WR teammates. He even looks good stretching and warming up to me.

A small school star is looking big time after two days of work. He’s #97/JAVON HARGRAVE/DT/S.C. State. HARGROVE is showing a nice combination of strength and speed. He’s winning a lot of battles in one-on-one drills, as well as showing solid work in scrimmage action. Besides his athleticism I am also impressed with his ability to diagnose plays and make his way to the ball quickly, and behind the line-of-scrimmage. He uses his hands well to move aside blockers.

On the negative side of things DT/CONNOR WUJCIAK/#99 walked off the practice field with 3 of the Shrine Training Staff early on, not to be seen the remainder of the practice.
ROBERT KUGLER/OC/Purdue did very little but watch for most of practice despite having his helmet own. Watching him have difficulty even stretching it sure looked to me like a guy with some serous lower back pain. We should know more about both players on Wednesday.

I doubt he’s going to blow anyone away with his Combine/Pro Day numbers but I just luv to watch BRIAN POOLE/CB/#24 the former Gator, work in the secondary. He is very quick to the ball and hits with full force. He’s not afraid to play his coverage up close and personal. I will be surprised if a solid number of scouts don’t move him up their prospect lists by the end of this week. He shows very fundamentals in his coverage.

Here are my top players of the day for the EAST:
#6 JOSH FERGUSON/RB
#11 RASHAWN SCOTT/WR
#71 BRANDON SHELL/OT
#76 DONOVAN CLARK/OG
#89 DARION GRISWOLD
#24 BRIAN POOLE/CB
#41 WILL MONDAY/P
#43 JAMES BURGESS/LB
391 VICTOR OCHI/DE
#97 JAVON HARGRAVE/DT

WEST PRACTICE
One of the impressive performers from Day 2 for the West was RB/DANIEL LASCO/CAL/#23 who showed great explosion and vision to run to daylight. He also showed nice hands catching some screen throws and turning them upfield for considerable yardage. He shows very good balance.

I’ve been very impressed with the athleticism and field vision on #46/De’VONDRE CAMPBELL/LB/Minnesota. But the guy is a stick figure come to life at over 6’5″ and weighing well under 250 lbs. He’s quick to pursue the ball, but clearly gets his legs tangled up when trying to backpedal in drill work.

Canadian DE/EBUKA ONYEMATA/#97 has shown very good quickness and burst in his pass rush. But by the same token he has been overpowered by the better OT, like ALEX LEWIS, once they get their hands on him. So far he’s looked like a very solid prospect, but far from a finished product ready for pro football.

Two seasons ago TE/KIVN CARTWRIGHT was considered a top TE prospect, with good receiving skills and decent blocking ability. He missed the 2014 season to injury and returned to a new offense that emphasized the run in 2015. He has looked solid the past two days. He also been getting lots of advice and helpful tips from his coaches this week. He made a couple of nice grabs and turned them into longer gains. If he continues looking good I’d expect him to be highly scrutinized over the next few months, given a weak overall TE prospect group.

#31/CORY JAMES/LB/Colorado State though a bit short (6-0), shows plenty of energy and athleticism in LB drill work as well as in live action. He actually showed some blitz ability for the Rams during his college career, but that will be hard to bring into play this week when blitzing is pretty much prohibited by rule. I expect JAMES will also get some time on Special Teams given his athleticism and tackling ability.

A 49’ers scout spent a considerable amount of time talking with TLYER MARZ/OT/Wisconsin #64 after practice this afternoon. MARZ showed well at the RT slot during 1-on-1 drills during practice. On several occasions he stoned the pass rushing DE, while on others he controlled them by pushing the rusher way beyond the pocket. That is a big plus for MARZ, whose main strength is considered to be his run blocking ability.

Overall, the West WR corps has not been as impressive overall as the East group, but GERONIMO ALLISON/Illinois #8 used his length to great advantage several times today, especially on some nice catches of high throws near the sidelines. He and CARTWRIGHT were the most impressive receiving targets overall today at this session.

DEREK WATT/FB/WISCONSIN #34 continues to impress with his versatility and athleticism as a RB/FB. He has been especially impressive making some nice catches and turning upfield for extra yards. He is also looking good as a blocker of course. In case you live in a cave with no College/Pro Football channels to watch he is indeed the younger brother of JJ WATT. DEREK somewhat reminds me a bit of BRIAN LEONARD of Rutgers who was a kind of hybrid RB/FB who showed versatility at the Senior Bowl some years ago. He hung around the NFL for 5-6 seasons but couldn’t quite make a significant role for himself.

Here’s my Top 10 list from the West practice:
#8 GERONIMO ALLISON/WR
#23 DANIEL LASCO/RB
#34 DEREK WATT/FB
#64 TYLER MARZ/OT
#71 ALEX LEWIS/OT
#89 DEVIN CAJUSTE/WR
#29 BRIEAN BODDY-CALHOUN/CB
#31 CORY JAMES/LB
#67 CORY JOHNSON/DT
#95 AZIZ SHITU/DE

Not to be a tease, but Wednesday I will take a serious look at the QB groups at both practices. By day 3 of practice they should be settled in and ready to show their stuff.

Good night from Florida football fans.

Shrine Game Monday

SHRINE WEEK has begun, with perhaps the best overall quality rosters in over a decade. Being a former teacher one of my first tasks at each practice is to take roster attendance. Everyone present and accounted for at the East practice session. However, one big absence later on at the West practice. Perhaps the No. 1 Draft prospect listed on the rosters, KEYARRIS GARRETT/WR/TULSA #1, was nowhere to be found this afternoon. I’m sure that by Tuesday’s practice we’ll have info on whether he’s injured, headed to the Senior Bowl instead, or just staying at his performance camp on the advice of his agent. I’ll bet on one of the latter two.

Both of the first day practices were a crossover between a walk-through and a full pad practice. There was some hitting on a limited basis, while all the players try to cram enough information into their heads to be able to carry out the instructions and designs of their new coaches. I expect to see much more hitting and a faster tempo overall on Tuesday. Along those lines let me also advise you that I will have no comments tonight on QB performances. They have the largest learning curve of all and will not hit their stride until Wednesday. IF anyone really stands out Tuesday I will advise.

The first NFL Exec I spied as I got out of my car at the East Practice was, drum roll please, TED THOMPSON, which should surprise no one who is aware what a talent scout grinder he is. My guess is that he caught a direct flight after the Packers loss in Arizona to Tampa. Later I caught TED in spirited conversation at the West practice with former protege’, and current Seattle GM JOHN SCHNEIDER.

A coaching highlight of the day was the WEST squad DC JERRY GLANVILLE, who will no doubt be leaving tickets at the Will Call window for ELVIS, as is his custom since The King’s reported death. My chuckle of the day from GLANVILLE today was finally catching sight of him out on the field instructing his charges adorned in a full Ten-Gallon Stetson Hat. In a small concession to convention he wore sneakers, not cowboy boots. Maybe he’s saving the boots for game day, because he probably won’t wear any hat since the Trop is a domed stadium.

I was just a wee bit surprised at the East Practice to see NAVY/QB/KEENAN REYNOLDS, listed as a RB, but indeed taking some snaps from OC and leading some run options plays. I guess HC CHARLIE WEISS wants to cover all his options in case his Offense stalls on game day.

In this year of a sparse TE prospect list DARION GRISWOLD/Arkansas State served himself well with a couple of very nice “hands” catches. He also impressed just getting off the bus looking every inch and pound of his listed 6’5/255. Tuesday, I will try to get a better field on how punishing of an inline blocker he really is. Conversely, KYLE CARTER/#87/Penn State although a very smooth looking athlete looks leaner than his 6’3/252 program weight, and is looking more and more like an H-B type whenever I see him play.

JOSH FERGUSON/RB/ILLINOIS, #6, started out the week showing right away what we all know is his biggest prospect skill… catching the football. He showed good hands and burst once he got the ball under control. He showed some nice moves on a couple of actual carries as well.

It was well over a decade ago that I totally missed the boat, during Senior Bowl week, when I failed to notice anything special abut and undersized, heavily tattooed, OC by the name of NICK HARDWICK, who just hung up his spikes last year. So I made sure to chat with the latest Purdue All-Star OC, ROBERT KUGLER, letting him know I would be paying attention to him. He was well aware of HARDWICK, who is a bit of a football legend at Purdue. He also reminded me that he is a bit of a football gypsy due to his dad being a college and pro coach for as long as ROBERT can remember. I had totally lost track of the fact that his Dad, SEAN, is the current HC at UTEP.

If KUGLAR has a good week in St. Pete, then OC could be very strong for the East. My top ranked OC, GRAHAM GLASGOW/MIchigan/#61 is running with the first team and I saw nothing from him today to make me rethink my high regard for him. He’s tall and strong looking, and acting. He’s long and strong, and reminds me of TAYLOR LEWAN, now of he TITANS.

Chatting along the sidelines with several other Draftniks, whom I respect, we were in agreement that the East team looked to have more talent on the roster from top to bottom. We then concluded that it seemed likely that the West would therefore win the game, based on past years projections and results.

Highest revving motor at the East practice belonged to VICTOR OCHI/DE/STONY BROOK/#91. THat was based on one-on-one drills as well as full squad scrimmage work. He wasn’t always making plays but it certainly wasn’t from lack of effort.

The best, purely athletic looking player for the East may be LB/TERRANCE SMITH/ Florida State/#44. Listed at 6’4/230 he has a very long frame with extra long arms. He also moves effortlessly, at times. He did a nice job picking up receivers coming off the line. Next we’ll see how many plays he actually makes in scrimmage type action.

I also spoke with Wisconsin/QB/JOEL STAVE/# 14 and he admitted to still be living the dream since his walk-on days. He managed to keep his starting job for most of 4 years, while leading his team to a lot of Wins despite playing under 3 different Head Coaches during his time in Madison. Now he finds himself in a showcase position to earn a Combine invitation with a good week in Florida.

During a cool and windy West late afternoon practice a solid body of work was demanded by JUNE JONES’ coaching staff and the players delivered. With only 3 players being listed in the RB group the team looks a bit light there. The most impressive of RB crew looked to be JJ WATT’s younger brother to me. He showed some nice running skills, excellent hands catching out of the backfield and of course threw some crunching blocks, earning praise from his coaches on multiple occasions.

The best Canadian collegian in this game, DE/EKUBA ONYEMATA/#97 had some serious 1-on-1 battles with ALEX LEWIS/OT/Nebraska/#71, who may be the best all-around OL for the West. LEWIS was the winner in my eyes, but ONYEMATA held his own and made LEWIS work very hard to retain the upper hand. This could get very interesting as the week progresses.

I was very impressed with the energy, burst and strength of DL/CORY JOHNSON/#67. CJ, as he likes to be called, dominated at times and put forth very solid effort. He’s listed as a DT in a game that requires a 4-3 line scheme, but he looks to me like a strong (literally) candidate for DE in a 3-4 scheme right now.

It was great to see former BADGERS & BENGALS NT/TIM KRUMRIE working with the West DL charges again this year, after an absence last year. He was his usual vocal, rousing self while doing a ton of teaching with a pretty good DL group. Those guys will come out of this week with some serious new skills & technique if they pay attention to Mr. Krumrie. KRUMRIE truly teaches his charges.

I will confess that I made a calculated error at the afternoon practice. I left my jacket in my car and when the winds picked up, the temps stayed in the 50’s and sun dipped below the tree line I made the 15 minute round-trip walk back to my car to put on that jacket. A few minutes after getting back to the practice field I heard TED THOMPSON explaining to an associate that he had just gone back to his vehicle for another jacket. Hope this falls under the ‘great minds think alike’ category.

I spoke with ex-Badgers MIKE CAPUTO/S/#42 & TYLER MARZ/OT/#64, after West practice, and both told me they were shocked to have played for 3 different Head Coaches in their Badger careers. They both succinctly explained to me that the history of program stability played heavily into their decisions to attend school in Madison and be part of the Badgers Football program. Rest easy UW fans. They both feel HC PAUL CHRYST is a good coach and is going nowhere any time soon.

Good night from Florida.