The second practice of the East-West Shrine was held in St. Petersburg, Fla. under sunny skies with temperatures in the low 80s. The West team practiced in shells (shorts, jerseys, helmets), so they have now gone two of their three practices without full pads. The East team has held much more physical sessions.
Most of the practice was devoted to one-on-one matchups. The wide receivers and cornerbacks went against each other. Overall, the defensive backs had a quality day and did pretty well considering the drill has an advantage for the offense. The quarterback and receiver know the route that is being run without a pass rush or safety help for the corner. Despite those advantages, there were a few defensive backs who stood out with good practices.
One of them was Oklahoma cornerback Demontre Hurst. He showed nice flexibility and change-of-directions skills to run with receivers. Hurst did a nice job of not allowing separation. On a pass to speedy wideout Chad Bumphis, Hurst timed his break well to slap the ball away from the Mississippi State product.
On another route downfield, Hurst blanketed Middle Tennessee State receiver Anthony Amos and slapped away the ball. That happened again during the team scrimmage as Hurst broke on the ball to block the pass. Hurst definitely helped himself on Tuesday and looks like a solid mid-round pick.
The other corner who had a good day was Illinois' Terry Hawthorne. He is a big cover corner who has good length and athleticism. Hawthorne had tight coverage on Amos to force an incompletion. On a pass where Arizona's Dan Buckner stumbled, Hawthorne made an easy pass break up. Hawthorne (6-1, 193) wasn't much of a ballhawk in college, but he has the skill set to potentially develop into a starter in the NFL. He is helping himself this week.
Notre Dame safety Zeke Motta was burned by Mount Union wideout Jasper Collins for a bomb. Collins played it perfectly and didn't tip off Motta that the pass was coming in over his head. The ball fell into Collins, who made a nice catch with late hands. Later, Motta got himself turned around to make a leaping interception.
One other defensive back who had a good day was Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde. He had a nice pass break-up and came close to a diving interception.
UCLA cornerback Aaron Hester started the scrimmage well with a pass break-up on a slant pass. He struggled after that, however. Hester was burned by Iowa wide receiver Keenan Davis as the wideout gained separation and made an easy catch deep downfield. Davis had Hester beat on another play but dropped the pass. Davis also had a win over Kansas safety Bradley McDougald.
Hester had a bomb go over his head and it was hauled in by Eastern Kentucky wide receiver Tyrone Goard. Hester had better coverage on that play but Goard made a leaping catch. Overall Hester (6-2, 195) had some struggles at turning and running with receivers. He'll have to be in a zone scheme rather than become a man cover corner in the NFL.
There were a lot of good battles in the line one-one-ones. Pitt guard Ryan Turnley beat Mississippi State defensive tackle Josh Boyd on two reps. Turnley stonewalled two bull rushes.
Boyd came back to win two reps against UCLA guard Jeff Baca. Boyd got a nice push before moving Baca aside with a shed or a swim move on each rush. The final win for Boyd came against Utah guard Sam Brenner. Boyd had a decent practice on Tuesday.
Brenner had a terrible afternoon - he had another loss against Colorado lineman Will Pericak - and was getting constantly blasted by the offensive line coach. It was embarrassing how much the coach road Brenner. It was horrible day for him, and he seemed to be beaten down mentally.
Michigan defensive tackle William Campbell dominated Brenner on two reps. The first saw Campbell bull Brenner into the marker. He also got a win with a speed and shed on Brenner. Campbell did really well aside from getting stonewalled by TCU guard Blaize Foltz.
Campbell finished the one-on-ones by driving Western Illinois center Andrew Robiskie straight down the pocket and pushed him flat on his butt after hitting the quarterback marker. Campbell really had an excellent practice and helped himself to be drafted in April.
Foltz was one of the most impressive offensive linemen, being one of the few linemen who blocked Campbell well. Foltz stood up a bull rush from Campbell on one rep, had a draw on the rematch and stuffed a bull-speed rush in the final attempt.
Sources told WalterFootball.com that the Saints have really taken a liking to Foltz. They view him as a mid- to late-rounder whom they could develop behind their tough guards. One player New Orleans is not that keen on is Boyd. The Saints have a need at defensive tackle, but sources said Boyd wasn't a player they have taken a liking to.
Perhaps the biggest star of Tuesday on either team was Texas A&M running back Christine Michael. He had some tremendous runs in the team scrimmage and nine-on-seven session. Michael was showing the whole package as a physical runner with a quick burst to the hole to go along with vision and cutting ability.
Michael broke off a couple of long runs in the team scrimmage as he dodged defenders to break downfield and pick up more yards. The players weren't tackling ball-carriers to the ground, but even then they struggled to grab Michael.
Michael was always an impressive runner with the Aggies, but things never lined up for him. He had injuries in 2010 and 2011 that caused him to miss significant time. Last season, Michael didn't get the ball as much with Johnny Manziel dominating the Texas A&M offense.
It wouldn't be surprising at all if Michael is the next running back who turns into a late-round steal and becomes a starter in the NFL. Sources told WalterFootball.com that many teams view Michael as a potential starter.
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