SOUTH PRACTICE REPORT – TUESDAY

There was a different kind of crowd at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for the afternoon practice. A lot of fans came out to cheer on their home state Crimson Tide participants and there was quite a following for quarterback Tim Tebow. This was my first look at the South squad and the overall talent level is head and shoulders above what the North has.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Ciron Black (LSU) was not doing well with his footwork today to say the least. He was taking a lot of false steps, which were caught by the Dolphins coaching staff numerous times, and he struggled to maintain his balance. He was constantly falling over and ending up on the ground after engagement with a defensive lineman ensued.

-John Jerry (Ole Miss) saw a lot of time inside at right guard, and he was flat out dominating the South’s defensive tackles. He plays very fast for a 332 pounder but what caught my eye was the knee bend. He gets maximum power with his punches because he bends at the knees and puts his hips in to it.

-JD Walton (Baylor) is a hustler that gets the most out of himself. He is very active and sticks with his blocks exceptionally well. He stuck with the quickness and handled the power that the defensive line had to offer.

TIGHT ENDS/RECEIVERS

-Andre Roberts (Citadel) is not fast, and he is not big. But he excels as a route runner and getting open in those short to intermediate routes. He gets in and out of his breaks with ease and even more importantly, he catches everything thrown his way.

-Colin Peek (Alabama) showed me some nice blocking today, something I was not impressed with during the season. He handled Troy’s Brandon Lang several times and showed outstanding technique.

-Joe Webb (UAB) caught a few tough passes and showed some powerful yards after catch ability. Tough kid that has the size and strength to overwhelm most defensive backs.

-Riley Cooper (Florida) was struggling to separate from most of the defensive backs that he was up against. He can beat the jam well but those next few steps were usually where the defender caught up to him. He isn’t very QB friendly from that perspective because there is such a tight window in which the ball must be fit in to.

RUNNING BACKS

-Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss) is listed as a wide receiver on the roster sheet, but he spent a lot of time in the backfield. The explosion he showed all over the field is going to get a lot of evaluators excited. He reaches top speed with just a few steps and his agility and balance in space is something to watch. While he is severely undersized, he plays tough and has no problem with putting his head down and trying to drive a pile forward.

-Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State) was seeing time at fullback. He was not flying to the hole as a lead blocker, instead appeared to be hesitant as he made his way through traffic.

QUARTERBACKS

-I did not get to seeTim Tebow (Florida) throw yesterday but the reports were not positive. Today however, Tebow threw the ball very well, especially deep. He put the ball on the money to Jimmy Graham, Dexter McCluster, and Shay Hodge. The throw to McCluster traveled 55+ yards in to the wind. Of course he had a few mishaps and his release remains on the slow side, the progression he made is coming along. I could tell he was still thinking about his footwork but once he gets that down pat, he’ll be able to wing it without any distractions.

-Jarrett Brown (West Virginia) showed some nice power on the out routes and I think he has the strongest arm of the group. He looked great on some plays, and appeared to have tunnel vision on others.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Very impressed by the athleticism in Dan Williams (Tennessee). He is very light on his feet and he showed that he can run with the defensive ends on the squad. But he did not hold up well in the double team drill. He was being pushed around laterally and the coaching staff got in to his ear with aggression, telling him to stay put or get in to the backfield.

-The Georgia defensive tackles, Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens had themselves a nice day. Atkins got overwhelmed by Mike Johnson (Alabama) a couple times but he responded to the coaching and made his way in to the backfield numerous times. Owens displayed a higher motor than what I grew used to seeing in him on game days. He showed some active and strong hands, getting off blocks with ease.

-Brandon Lang (Troy) is an attractive player in pads. He looks the part and he was playing at a different speed than any of the other defensive linemen. Very promising as an edge rusher, something Troy has done a nice job of producing lately.

LINEBACKERS

-Very small unit altogether. The Broncos scouts that sat right behind me commented on their lack of bulk several times. Eric Norwood (South Carolina) is the thickest of the group, but he struggled with his footwork. He was late to react in the live drills.

-Dekoda Watson (Florida State) was the most athletic of the group. He was closing on ball carries very fast and often beat running backs to the edge. He showed some nice coverage ability as well with fluid hips and explosion when he made breaks on the ball.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

-Javier Arenas (Alabama) has a very impressive, powerful build to him. Despite being bulked up, he has the swift hips and can change direction with a lot of acceleration. However I question his top speed as he was badly burned by McCluster and Webb. His coverage responsibilities look limited, but he can excel in the right role.

-Myron Rolle (Florida State) was directing traffic out there as if he hasn’t been in Oxford studying for a year. His footwork was the subject of a lot of criticism from coaches, but for the most part he looked very confident out there.

-Taylor Mays looked confident as well, perhaps overly confident. I really didn’t like his approach to the practice at all. He looked bored out there at times and when it came time to strap up the helmet and perform, he was below average. He completely whiffed on an attempt to jam Cooper Riley at the point of attack and was late to react to the ball in the air.

TUESDAY’s WINNERS

-Dexter McCluster – RB/WR – Ole Miss

He started off the practice by shagging punts and kicks, and he looked more comfortable doing so than anyone other than Arenas. He then impressed by running crisp routes and showing some big time speed downfield. Following that, McCluster took the ball out of the backfield and ran well in between the tackles. What he showed today is that he can do it all, and do it fast.

-John Jerry – OT – Ole Miss

With his size and his experience at different positions along the line, Jerry is going to catch a lot of eyes. The quickness and balance he showed today impressed me as he completely stifled the likes of Lamarr Houston and Dan Williams.

TUESDAY’s LOSERS

Ciron Black – OT – LSU

He saw action at guard and tackle, but lacked the tools to play well at either. His footwork was too sloppy for tackle, as he was often playing catch up against the speed rushers. His balance was easy to exploit when he played inside, leaving the notion that he may just be the backup type at the next level.

Lamarr Houston – DT – Texas

His explosion off the snap was there, but once he was neutralized by a blocker, he lacked the secondary moves to free himself. He doesn’t have the strength to be a force in the middle right now.