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.
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!