Day 1 West practice thoughts
Monday featured plenty of rain at the Blossom Athletic Complex in San Antonio at West team practice. In fact, it barely let up during either session until the day was finally completed.
-- The duo of Texas A&M commits at wide receiver for the West -- Derrick Griffin and Ricky Seals-Jones -- had major height advantages going against the much smaller cornerbacks, but didn't have a ton of success in the air on the first day. The most notable play probably came from Griffin, who used his height and strength to win a jump ball over Tre'Davious White on a nice throw from Hayden Rettig.
-- Though Seals-Jones was good catching the ball at The Opening, especially when going outside the frame of his body to do so, he had a handful of dropped passes on Monday, which may have been in part because of the wet and rainy conditions. He also doesn't have a great deal of experience at wide receiver and needs some work on his overall polish, especially in attacking the football with his hands instead of letting passes get into his body.
-- Besides the throw from Rettig, the quarterbacks had some difficulties putting the ball in places where only the tall receivers could get out. Several fade routes were either massively overthrown or underthrown.
-- Overall, White had an excellent day to open preparations, as the catch that Griffin made over him was one of the few he gave up.
-- Rettig was probably the most consistent quarterback on the day, as Max Browne struggled some with his accuracy and has that awkward hitch at the top of his delivery that kills all the momentum from the start of his delivery that is eerily reminiscent of a similar mechanical defect in Garrett Gilbert's throwing motion. Browne came into the game with some pretty high expectations since he's in the conversation as the top player in the country, but
-- Texas commit Tyrone Swoopes was named by his coaches as the top performer at his position over the first two days, but was typically inconsistent on Monday. A wheel route thrown to Oregon commit Thomas Tyner that was on the mark but dropped was the best throw made on the day.
-- In the battle for the starting center role, Jake Raulerson looks to have an edge over Deon MIx due to his athleticism. The Texas commit may weight about 80 pounds less than Mix and also worked as a deep snapper on special teams.
-- Hookem.com analyst Jeff Howe raved all day about the feet of Texas commit Kent Perkins, who was playing right tackle and turned in a solid day of work. Though Perkins is generally considered as a future right tackle prospect, he's no slouch in pass protection and can work in space as a run-blocker.
-- Along the defensive line, the West group looks strong inside with five-star talent like A'Shawn Robinson and Eddie Vanderdoes, and a disruptive penetrating force in Justin Manning, who could play some five tech defensive end if the West opts for any 3-4 looks to get an edge rusher like Torrodney Prevot some chances to tee off against East quarterbacks in the game.
-- There typically aren't a lot of chances for linebackers to shine in these type of practices, but Mike Mitchell made the best play of the day dropping underneath a curl route to break up a pass. There was some concern that Mitchell was nothing more than a workout warrior after his monster testing numbers at The Opening. After a huge senior season that saw him put up tackling numbers, the game on Saturday could be an important one for Mitchell as a last high school impression, but he's done all that he can so dispel those perceptions so far.
Day 2 East afternoon session thoughts
The sun finally made an appearance by the afternoon session, which mostly featured special teams work, but did have some team work in passing drills towards the end.
-- When the quarterback were working on their run fakes, Stanford commit Ryan Burns was the most crisp with his footwork. In fact, Burns continued a solid morning session in the afternoon and was the most steady of all the quarterbacks at the event through the first two days.
-- If the East offensive line won most of the battles toward the end of the morning session, the defensive line, especially the left side of the defensive line going against the right side of the offensive line, was dominant in the afternoon session. The East quarterbacks were on the run for almost the entire team period, which gave the wide receivers little opportunity to shine. Kenny Bigelow and Frank Herron were especially disruptive, but almost everyone in the front seven defensively had an opportunity to shine.
-- After a strong morning of work, USC commit Jalen Ramsey continued having a great deal of success in the afternoon. It was difficult to tell if the defensive backs had more to do with the defensive line or whether the defensive line simply made it easy for the defensive backs to do their job, but the results were good.
-- The only time that Ramsey was noticeably beat was on a deep out route by a wide receiver after getting outside of Ramsey, but the ball hung in the air and Kendall Fuller had anticipated the route and came off his man to make a play on the ball, showing outstanding awareness for everything that was going on in the defensive secondary.
-- Star uncommitted cornerback Mackensie Alexander wasn't as noticeable in his play as Ramsey or Fuller, but sometimes that isn't a bad thing for a defensive back -- he wasn't really targeted, so he didn't have a chance to make plays. Call it the ultimate steady performance from Alexander on Day 2.