All-American Bowl Monday Notebook

Through the first day of practice, a little bit of nerves appeared on both teams and some wrinkles need to be ironed out over the next four days before Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

East

The East went through its first practice this morning and as expected, the defense was ahead of the offense. They ended the practice in team drills (11 on 11) and the offense initially struggled with snap counts, offsides and center-quarterback exchanges. Quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Zach Frazer traded plays and both had their moments under center. Tebow found wide receiver Chris Bell on a deep seam route for a score after a blown assignment by the defensive secondary. Wide receiver Vidal Hazelton beat cornerback Steve Brown on a fly route. Brown had good coverage but Tebow just threw a perfect ball. Frazer also completed some nice short passes to wide receivers Percy Harvin, Barry Gallup and the others. After the offense got through their initial miscues their running game came to life with all three backs – Chris Wells, C.J. Spiller and James Aldridge. Book-end tackles Andre Smith and Sam Young both lived up to the hype all day.

Defensively, Jared Odrick, Jacque McClendon, Brandon Spikes, and Micah Johnson all made plays. For the most part the defense controlled the team drill but the offense helped out by some first day mistakes.


Wide Receiver Vidal Hazelton
of Hargrave Military

photo by Glenn Nelson
Before the team drill they ran seven on seven with Tebow and Frazer trading snaps. Combined, the two quarterbacks were 16 of 27, with most of their completions coming on short routes. There were two great catches during this sequence, one by Hazelton and the other by Dorin Dickerson. Hazelton made a great adjustment on an underthrown pass from Tebow, showing super concentration and body control. Defensively, Spikes looked good in pass coverage from his linebacker position and he dropped two potential interceptions. Safety Myron Rolle also dropped a potential pick during the seven on seven. The East was throwing a lot of short underneath routes to Harvin and Gallup.

Tebow and Frazer both struggled throwing with consistency during their first session. Obviously they are a little rusty but they are also playing with a lighter ball that comes off their hand much quicker than what they are used to.



Linebacker Jarrell Miller
of Highland Springs HS

photo by Glenn Nelson
BIG Linebackers: The East squad is loaded with some big linebackers – Micah Johnson, (6-2, 255) Brandon Graham (6-2, 250), Jarrell Miller (6-3, 235) and Brandon Spikes (6-4, 235). They can all move and show good quickness for their size. Spikes looked fluid dropping in coverage. Johnson has lost weight and looks like he could certainly step in and play linebacker at Kentucky. The small ‘backer of the bunch was Akeem Hebron (6-2, 195). He is playing the weakside spot and he is the fastest and quickest of the bunch.

 



Running back James
Aldridge of Merrillville HS

photo by Glenn Nelson
The (B)East Backs: The East is loaded at running back with Chris Wells (6-1, 225), C.J. Spiller (5-10, 185) and James Aldridge (6-1, 215) and they all bring something a little different to the table. Wells looks unreal and he has great size and super speed and quickness. He shows a great burst as well. Spiller has the jets and shows great explosiveness. Aldridge kind of falls some where in between his two counter parts and was equally as impressive.


No Mercy: The East coaches had their entire team running gassers to end the morning session of their first practice. They ran six or so and one player, center Daniel Wenger ended up losing his breakfast.



Safety Antwine Perez
of Woodrow Wilson HS

photo by Glenn Nelson
Changing On The Fly: Brandon Graham found himself playing fullback today for the East team and adjusted well to the change. The Michigan verbal opened up huge holes for the talented trio of running backs that the East features, he surprised a lot with his abilities as a pass catcher out of the backfield. It's still too early to tell if the move is permanent, but Graham took the majority of the snaps on Monday.


Quick Hitter: The hit of the day at East practice was an easy choice as Chris Wells, a future Ohio State Buckeye, busted loose into the middle of the defense and plowed over an unsuspecting Antwine Perez. The hit drew ooh's and ah's from everyone in attendance.


Injury Bug: Defensive end Ricky Sapp sustained a high ankle sprain during some drills in the first hour of practice. He came to the bench and iced his right ankle. There is a possibility he may be taken for some x-rays after the afternoon practice. … Also injured was wide receiver Jared Fayson, who tweaked his hamstring. He caught a pass during seven on seven drills and it appeared his cleats got caught in the turf while falling towards the sideline. He did not return to the morning practice and is out through at least tomorrow's practice. … Jacque McClendon rolled his ankle but returned to practice. … Chris Wells received a scare in practice when he fell untouched and grabbed his knee, but he came back with a vengeance. … Jarrell Miller pulled himself out of a drill with a strained groin. He is going to try and return to practice with a wrap. If it's still bothering him, he sat out the remainder of the first day of practice icing his injury.

West


Running back Michael Goodson
of Collins HS

photo by Glenn Nelson
The West running backs looked sensational, especially Michael Goodson. He made two Reggie Bush type runs, one showing incredible speed to get around the edge and on the other he made an incredible move on a West linebacker, leaving the defender grasping for air. On the play it appeared that Goodson may have injured his groin muscle. DeMarco Murray has shown surprising power, running through some would be West tacklers. He is also showing very good speed. Emmanuel Moody has super balance and great feet.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Al Woods are flat out terrors. They were both a constant disruption in the seven on seven running drills. Defensive end Richard Dickson also had some dominating moments.


photo by Glenn Nelson
All the West linebackers had their moments as well. Although they are smaller than the East ‘backers, they have speed, aggressiveness and big hitting ability. Dustin Earnest and Sergio Kindle had two monster hits on Murray and Moody respectively.

In one-on-one drills with the offensive linemen, Ian Symonette, Jake Bscherer and Matt Carufel all stood out but as a unit the offensive line struggled against the West defensive front. Chris Stewart had an up and down practice. When he locked on his defender, it was over. He shows a great nasty streak. But he also got beat on several plays. Chad Roark and Steve Schilling both had good first days. Symonette also spent time playing offensive guard as well as tackle.


The Stars:

Quarterback Jevan Snead
of Stephenville HS

photo by Glenn Nelson
Quarterbacks Mitch Mustain and Jevan Snead had a great first day. Snead has been the most consistent of the two from start to finish but during one stretch Mustain was on fire, hitting all targets. Both signal callers look comfortable and show very good arm strength and accuracy.


Notes: Ken Beasley is playing wide receiver for the West while Stafon Johnson is playing safety… The West wide receivers are small with the exception of David Ausberry. Jonas Mouton and Jai Eugene looked the best today for the West secondary… The vocal leader for the West squad is defensive end Eddie Jones.


Heat Wave: With temperatures in the low-80s, some of the prospects were not quite prepared for the warm San Antonio weather.

"We structured it. This morning was more of a teaching practice, and this second practice we wanted to make sure they got an opportunity to mix it up a little bit, get back to popping the pads a little bit," said West offensive line coach Jason Tenner. "We need to get them back into game shape. For some of them, it's been over a month since they've played a game. So they got to put their helmet and shoulder pads on, knock off the cobwebs, learn the schemes and get ready to put on a good show on Saturday."

While players expected to be used to the weather, including cornerback Jai Eugene of Destrehan, La., who sat out of the afternoon practice due to the heat, some of the Northern kids were happy with it.

"Coming out here pasty-white, I got a nice little sunburn. I'm sure I'll wake up and feel it tomorrow," said West offensive lineman Jake Bscherer. "You can definitely tell during the first session and the beginning of the one-on-ones it wasn't up to par, but when we had offense-versus-defense as a whole, it was a lot better."

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