Speaker1: Another beautiful day for practice (ho-hum). My flight back east is canceled because of the storm, so might as well enjoy the sunshine and some football.

11 on 11s with Cole Kelly at quarterback to kick off the day. Looks comfortable, takes a check down for a nice chunk of yardage. Definitely relaxed here this week. He’s already had a week of all-star prep at the Hula Bowl and seems at ease––not trying to do too much, making good choices. Really just the one bad rep (a RZ INT) in two days. Next, a strike from Kelley throwing to the tight end up the seam. It’s a nice throw, up and over the linebacker and in front of the safeties, where the TE had found a dead zone in coverage. I think that was Peyton Hendershot from Indiana. Now, a run play up the middle for Shermari Jones of Coastal Carolina–he was stuffed by the mass of bodies, even in “no-tackle” mode.
Offense had Jachai Baker of S. Alabama in at right tackle before, but now he’s been replaced by Jarrid Williams of the U. North Carolina’s Marcus McKethan is the right guard. Mike Caliendo of Western Michigan is at center, Tyrone Kidd of Montana State is the left guard and Joshua Rivas of K State is in at left tackle. Kelly again with a short drop and throws a check down to the wide receiver from Corey Sutton of Appalachian State. Central Michigan’s Kalil Pemberton was open on the deep route. Wow, he covered a lot of ground in a very short period of time. Fast,.
Curtis Hodges from Arizona State lined up as an H-back or fullback. Really, he led the way on that run and blasted somebody in the hole, and on a drill where people are kind of not going full bore. He laid the wood. Maybe not going to make him a friend on the defensive side, but somebody noticed.
S Dakota State’s Chris Oladokun in at quarterback now, continuing his great week of practice. Offense had Pimpelton and Lance McCutcheon over here to the right… but it’s eye candy for the defense as Oladokun make a nice throw for a touchdown on the left side. Read the LB (Cameron Goode from Cal) in coverage and threw it over top of him. I’m sure the defense paid a little more attention to the side with the two hot WR prospects.
Acuri back at right tackle Duke’s Jack Wohlabaugh’s back at center. Good snap, by the way. Good coverage & pressure, throw is made by Oladokun… multiple defenders look like the primary target on that play. Joshua Ross from Michigan and Goode knock it away from each other, unfortunately, but they were in the right spot to make a play.
Oladokun, quarterback, 10 yard line. BJ. Baylor, Oregon St. on the carry. Left side of the offense blocking (TE Curtis Hodges of AZ St., LT Andrew Rupcich of Culver-Stockton LG Jarrid Williams of the U., Duke’s Center Jack Wohlabaugh moving the pile there, ending with little disagreement between the OL and Rutgers LB Olakunle Fatukasi and DL Roderick Perry of Illinois on the defensive side. Call it a healthy scrum.   Wohlabaugh got rolled up there a litte but he’s okay.
Sacred Heart’s RB Julius Chestnut in the back field, Oladokun’s pass batted down by down by Cincy’s Curtis Brooks on the DL and Pimpelton was open again in the right side of the ez but ball didn’t get there. The protection was mostly good that time but LDE Zach Van Valkenburg of Iowa with a great rep, getting under the pads of RT Jachai Baker and pushing him all the way back to the QB. 
Brandon Peters in at quarterback. That’s still Chestnut in the backfield with a TE Hendershot lined up as a fullback/H-Back. Peters with good protection and possibly room to run left, instead throws back against his body to an uncovered WR Brandon Johnson of UCF on the opposite hash. It’s overthrown and right to UTSA LB Clarence Hicks for an easy pick. Peters bends to hands-on-knees. Would like to have that back.  Lance McCutcheon on one side, again, split, right, Isolated out here against Tre Swilling, is that defender from Georgia Tech we talked about yesterday. Was going to be a pitch play but there’s a false start. They line it up again and go half speed. Pitch again, this time, no false start, and it’s a halfback pass actually to The back left corner to Corey Sutton… but coaches chastise Taylor for throwing it into a crowd of defenders.
Hern from Arkansas now at TE, standing up next to the right tackle. Pass protection good. Peters escapes left, but into pressure from Curtis Brooks. Has to throw it away. Tre Swilling once again looks like he is unafraid that basically has a third of the field to himself in coverage. Looks good staving off McCutcheon.
Cole Kelly in at quarterback. Looking left presnap, maybe making a hand signal? At the snap has great protection,but coverage is also solid. Kelley moves up in the pocket and is going to run. Probably on a live play he’d get at least 6 or 7 yards.
Change in OL. Jachai Baker back at right tackle, Jarrid Williams flips to right guard. Brandon Johnson split out left and Chestnut at RB. Curtis Hodges TE on the right side. It’s a PA off a left outside zone. Kelley rolls right. Coverage again tight and pressure comes again from Van Valkenburg who is not fooled by the misdirection. Might have been a tough sack to escape, but Kelley is also tough to bring down. Van Valkenburg refusing to be fooled or blocked right now.
Brandon Peters now in at quarterback, 7-on-7 Peters throw to Kern on a drag route was a little high AND Kern never looked for the ball… the result was a leaping should-have-been INT #2 of the day by LB Clarence Hicks. That’s two plays of his in a row where the ball is going straight to defenders. Not good. The defense in general seems way ahead today compared to yesterday.
Peters looks downfield and tries a hole shot on the right sideline but the ball goes through the hands of Montrell Washington of Samford. Looked like Peters had to work hard to deliver that throw–a tough one by NFL standards. He isn’t going to win the effortless velocity contest so he has to be accurate. It’s a good throw and probably a tough catch. It also seemed like the two receivers running a smash concept were too close to each other, so the spacing there was a little bit off. The defense, on the other hand, has all the momentum in practice.
Next snap, all that defensive work is for naught after a beautiful route, throw, and catch on a backshoulder deep ball to Lance McCutcheon (what else is new). UCLA Quantrezz KNight in off-man coverage but McCutcheon just ate up the cushion so quickly that he was on top of Knight before the CB had a chance to even read the route stem. That’s a receiver who is going to make a lot of DBs look bad and make some QB look really good. Funny, the defense looked like they were ahead for a few reps of that 11 on 11. All it takes is one superior play to swing the momentum back.
4th and 15 situational drill, still, Peters at QB. Shermari Jones at RB Good pass protection from RT Jarrid Williams sealing the edge and it’s a dumpoff to Jones. Jones makes nice yardage, but didn’t seem to be thinking, “it’s fourth down and 15 and I got to make a play” while he went out of bounds 2 yards short of the marker.
American Team went at it a bit more intensely today, thus the notes heavier on their practice.
Always interesting to see who comes out early for practice for the American team. Aside from the specialists, former Florida Atlantic TE Zaire Mitchell-Paden was the first one on the field, warming up and showing off an impressive build. He’s first out here from a group of overacheivers, getting some early work in before anyone showed up. Duly noted. The quarterbacks come out. Zerrick Cooper with a smile for everyone. Teammates & coaches seem to like him. DL Akial Byars Missouri, LB Daniel Hardy from Montana State, WR Michael Young from Cincinnati. Earlybirds. Now, the rest of the crew working its way in.
I don’t really know why it took this long, since he’s the biggest human in a 300-mile radius but OT Caleb Jones from Indiana got, like they say, noticed at your All-Star Game. Well, some agent from a giant agency just came down and said, Hey, I’d like to introduce myself to you, son… gave him the speech like, you know., apparently, they noticed his practice. Good for him and his 6087 369lbs with 3668 arm measurements.
Simultaneous drills at opposite ends of the field, so I’ll comment the best I can!

1-on-1s for receivers and coverage guys. This kind of drill doesn’t really favor the defenders very much, but we’ll see.Nebraska’s Austin Allen catch in the flat. Catching everything this week.

Nice route for the USC running back Vavae Malepeai. He ran an out route from slot and Aqell Glass with the good throw in seven on seven. Dai’Jean Dixon with a nice grab on a slant with zip. Smooth and good release, speaking of guys who are always open this week.
Chase Garber with a nice throw. Pretty throw on a corner route to TE Jake Tonges of Cal.
Next rep, Garber threw into a tight window and pass defended away by LB Arron Mosby of Fresno state. Very nice pass defense. 
This is Aqeel Glass. Now he’s got San Diego State’s Greg Bell in the backfield. Corner route and a nice sideline grab from Mychal Cooper of Navy. Though the defense doesn’t agree, saying it was bobbled at the end.
Zerrick Cooper now at QB. Three-Step step drop then dump to the running back in the flat. Once again, QBs here are focused on delivering it on time to what the D gives them.
Cooper again, looks right. This time a 50/50 with the defender Darren Brown of Fresno State making a really nice play to break it up on Dai’Jean Dixon.
Now Garber with a quick out to Deshawn Dixon. Next, Garbers goes back to the left, an underneath route to his college teammate, Tonges.
After a short break, Aqeel glass now in 7-on-7, looks left, then comes back and immediately throws right. His receiver had fallen down. The ball came out anyway and was intercepted. Once again, I think. In Glass’s defense, this is a drill, and he’s encouraged to get the ball out quickly to the read, whether it’s there or not. These QBs have to get used to the idea of where they’re supposed to go with the designed play.
Garbers to a tight window there for Dixon, throw was a little low and inside.
Next a wonderful play design with TE Allen running a fade off of the wide receivers slant from the outside.  Allen got a beautiful ball at that time from the Aqeel Glass and dropped it. I jinxed him. Defense celebrates. 
Glass again. This time Malcolm Rodriguez of Oklahoma State accidentally put a big hit on the receiver who’s my earlybird TE Mitchell-Paden. ZMP made a nice grab, even though he absorbed a good hit. Not just a hard worker coming out early, made a nice play there. Nice length, good target radius.
Glass again. It’s a great throw left sideline this time to Dixon and fit in a tight window Pretty good coverage that time from LB who dropped, Mosby That was pretty good coverage, just a better throw and catch.
OL/DL 1-on-1s 
Oh, wow. Gigantic Caleb Jones vs persistent T.D. Moultry Auburn. Moultry tried to speed and dip the outside and 77 just plowed him into the earth.
USC’s Jalen McKenzie with stop on Louisiana’s Chauncey Manac, used long arms to box him out.
Aron Johnson from South Dakota State runs Deandre Johnson (Miami FL) around the arc.
Stalemate Greg Long of Purdue at guard vs. Practice Week All-Star Eric Johnson of Missouri State. Johnson has been a tough matchup for everyone but good rep for Long here.
Uh-oh, it’s Orlando Umana, again. It doesn’t matter who they run against them, this time number the highly touted EDGE Sam Williams of Ole Miss. Umana says nope.
Tanner Owen had a stout pass pro rep before did a nice job of interior, didn;’t see who it was against… maybe Tre Williams of Arkansas.
Mouldry vs Caleb Jones again. Just too much size differential. Mouldry will be coming all day with that same energy, eventually going to get through. Persistent.
Texas A&M’s Jayden Peevy vs Doug Kramer of Illinois. Stalemate/good matchup.
Eric Wilson with a nice job hand-fighting pretty nice job with hand position against Peevy. But he was giving ground a little bit, good power from the TAMU D lineman.
James Houston takes a rep (he’d been in the coverage drill on the other side of the field, I think). Houston, unsurprisingly, with a nice rush against Aaron Johnson. Set up Johnson to the outside and then ripped inside and free.
Manac vs Mackenzie. Mackenzie took away the outside loop but Manac counters quickly to the inside and kind of got McKenzie a little bit. McKenzie recovers and uses his length that’s tough to get around, so isn’t a complete loss. Mackenzie repping at left tackle now after playing a lot at right tackle yesterday
Sam Williams and Greg Long to a stalemate. I think Williams is pretty good, so this is a really good rep for Long.
Doesn’t matter who they put up against Umana. Mouldry this time. Forget it. Umana has faced NT types, quick DTs, DEs, & EDGE OLBs. He has taken on and defeated all comers in this drill.
The defensive version of Umana, Greg Johnson, just went by somebody in the drill. That was a immediate win at the snap vs, I think Doug Kramer. Johnson has brought out an array of tools/pass rush moves and I think Kramer might have been waiting to see one and just got jumped off the snap.
Chauncey Manac and Aron Johnson now. Manac tried some lateral moves. It didn’t really work. Aron Johnson pretty much a rock and moves well side to side with good balance. Has done very well in these drills.
Manac runs around Johnson, but coaches didn’t like that. Maybe Manac jumped the gun? Horn sounds before the rematch.
Illinois punter Blake Hayes punting a series of beautiful balls. Going through his normal punting drill. Man, that’s a lot of spirals. Beautiful footballs. Has a little more issue with what looks like his directional and or less-than-full kick but not the Aussie backspin distance. Just not coming off his foot quite as consistently. Specialist jobs in the NFL are really detail-oriented, so I’m applying a pretty tough standard.
Ezzard back as the PR in punt practice. Amazing how much ground he covers to get the ball in the air––makes it look easy––but perhaps even more amazing is seeing him throw it 50+ yards effortlessly in the air to get it back to the line of scrimmage. When I mentioned being impressed with his arm, I started to say, “I remember you throwing one…” and he finished my sentence, “had that guy wide open and I threw it 15 yards over his head!” Shakes his head like he’s still pissed about it months later.
Looked like the specialists were happy to have some reps in live-action. They finish the session with a long FG attempt simulating an end of game situation. Illinois PK James McCourt has made everything in drills/practice but, after the coaches “freeze” him with a TO, he misses. They go again and end the day on McCourt’s mulligan, a 55-yard make.
These are one on ones for DB/LB vs WR/TE/RB.
RB Greg Bell again has shown out with some nice receiving skills vs LBs. Looks like a receiver when he works with the wide receiver group.
RB Brittain Brown with a nice shake and bake route against Arron Mosby.
Wow. Jackson State’s C.J. Holmes with a physical rep and stuck with Ezzard but i the end was forced to just basically pull the receiver down. Probably would have been a penalty, but it didn’t matter because Ezzard shrugged him off and made the catch anyway. 
Oh yeah. Cincinnati’s WR Michael Young vs S Kekaula Kaniho. The Boise State safety waits for the hands to go up and knocks it away– good hands late in the rep.
TE Tonges tries a fade vs Notre Dame’s Isaiah Pryor. Pryor stays plastered and in the receiver’s grill, attacks the ball. GREAT coverage. 
Greg Bell with another good choice route vs John Gibbens of Minnesota. Gibbens just couldn’t stay with him. Slippery.
Mychal Cooper against Joshua Blackwell of Duke. Blackwell undercuts the post route and makes a diving interception. There’s a flag but I think it’s against 84. That’s about as good as it gets for a defender working off-man in 1-on-1s.
D’Anthony Bell of South Florida vs Dai’Shaun Dixon. Oh my God. That was an eliter shake move from Dixon on Bell. No chance.
Austin Allen went into James Houston and created the contact trying to set up a backshoulder throw, but couldn’t get back out of the contact to make the play, as Houston never gave ground, making Allen work hard to get space.. Houston just plays heavy and sticky––not likely to get buillied by a TE. 
South Dakota’s Jack Cochrane makes up ground at the last second with a great diving play to knock the ball out of the air from trail coverage on Malepeai. Crowd heartily approves.
Glass again throwing to Ezzard vs Holmes. Holmes with the breakup––this time, less handsy and better position. Good rep vs. a shifty battler.
Michael Young rematch vs Kaniho. Young with perfect footwork on the fade route and great throw from Glass. Kaniho is beaten but patient and knocks it away at the last second again with great. late fingertip in there. Young is pissed. Can’t believe he didn’t get either of those reps to go his way.
NDSU’s Josh Babicz picks up a low throw while on the run vs Corey Rahman. Got away with a push off, but he’s a TE and they let TE’s do that.
Tioledo’s Bryant Koback vs Do-it-all James Houston. Houston with a physical close but just late on a short route.
Jump fade in the EZ was knocked out by Greg Eisworth II of Iowa State. That’s nice late defense, again. Eisworth doesn’t panic and plays the pocket late vs. Mychal Cooper.
Dixon against Fresno’s Darren Bland, Dixon wins cleanly out of the break but Bland takes advantage of a throw that was a little late and to the outside to knock it away.
Zaire Mitchell-Paden vs John Gibbens on a corner route. Gibbens trails out of the break on a corner route but the ball is thrown too far for ZMP. 56 had good coverage on the Big TE.
Double move for Brittain Brown to beat Cochrane to the inside post. Nice rep for the UCLA running back.
Ezzard with the quick route to get inside positoin but the throw is late and low, giving Joshua Blackwell the chance to come cleanly around and knock the ball down. Good job in making the play without commiting a foul.
Young and Kaniho for the third time. You know Young wants this, having had the ball knocked out twice before. Young gives a stutter step in the back of the EZ, breaks out for separatio with Kaniho looking inside, and the WR makes the catch.
Tonges vs Mosby  Out and up move by the TE. Mosby hangs well enough on the double move, despite losing a shoe, he forces a tight back-shoulder window. Tonges can’t make the grab. Fellow LB Gibbens comes over to throw the shoe back to the Bulldog, “You don’t need it!”.
Greg Bell beats another LB in a pass drill, this time James Houston, although tight coverage and big effort from Houston. Houston lost his footing on the concrete just past the EZ and slid, hard into a retaining wall. Ouch. finally something here in Pasdena can stop Houston. He shakes it off after a time on the ground and appears to be okay.
11-on-11 action.
McKenzie at RT, Garbers starting the drill at QB with the first team, he’s got Austin Allen on a slant. Allen makes a guy miss––well, maybe not miss for real if there was tackling––but puts a little move on a Safety for extra yardage. It’s been a nice couple of days for Austin Allen. Good burst for Brittain Brown into the hole. Nice job by C Doug Kramer to clear the IDL.
Young split left matched with C.J. Holmes one on one. Zyon Gilbert from Florida Atlantic on other side against Mychal Cooper. Garbers looks right, throws left on an angle route to the TE Tonges. On-target throw and nice catch in traffic.
Darron Bland in at CB travels to right side with Young presnap. That’s his match-up, I guess. Outside zone right to Brown, again, OL does pretty well to slide as a unit. McKenzie on the outside big man moving. Jack Cochrane making defensive playcalls and setting the defense. Run to the middle, IOL makes a hole but Cochrane that time meets the run in the hole and delivers a nice stick on Brown.
The corners matched up and Cory Rahman playing single high in Red Zone D.  A run up the middle meets some strong resistance from Cochrane, Rahman and also DT Akial Byers from Missouri clogging that hole.
Offense in goal line, outside zone run right.  Greg Bell cuts back but Houston ain’t buying it. He reads, reacts, and flies to the hole to stick the RB. Really impressed with the LB/Edge/Dime backer from Jackson State. All over the practice reports these last two days. 
Oh, here we go again. Play in the backfield for a loss by James Houston. Houston, who also is fully aggressive and successful in coverage, with a no-hesitation doenhill play for what would have been a big loss. Good day today, in the coverage 1-on-1s, the pass rush drill, and now in 11-on-11 on run fits.
Aqeel Glass to Josh Babicz, a very nice throw between defenders. Quick windows necessitate quick decisions in the red zone and that was a good one for Glass.
Blackwell with a good breakup on a slant. Standing out for his read and reaction in zone coverage.
Austin Allen very nice catch on a low pass from Glass.  Pressure from Arron Mosby caused Glass to have to short-arm it a little bit and the throw lost some steam.  Austin came up with a terrific catch there for the TD .
The two minute drill offense with Garbers, needs a TD from his own 45, there’s a minute and 10 on the clock. It’ll be interesting to see a two minute drill with a team that’s only practiced together three or four days. Drive starts with run up the middle and it figures––there’s a time-honored tradition of the first play in the two minute drill being a run. Garbers had a shot at intermediate middle receiver but dumped it underneath. Using a lot of time. 15 seconds remaining now. He’s going to have to take a chance if he’s going to make this happen from the 25. Drops it again to the RB outlet but now we’re down to 3 seconds and one last play from the 15. Garbers rolls out and makes some time for himself to the right, but he’s going to throw it up in the back of the end zone towards Ezzard. Ezzard leaps and tries to stay inbounds but the throw is too far. That’s good defense but the offense is going to have to attack more/pick up the pace.
Next 2-min offense scenario: Forty five seconds and need a field goal to win. Zerrick Cooper at quarterback, fakes a handoff and throws right sideline to Dixon. DB expects Dixon to continue out of bounds, but Dixon boldly fakes and head further upfield. The kind of play where the coach goes, “get out of bounds! What are you doing??” but then, after Dixon gets 12 ore yards and then gets out of bounds, coach is all, ” Nice play, 8-5!” Great job.
Jeff Fisher changes the scenario since they’re already in FG range. “No timeouts left. The offense will complete a pass and we’re going run the FG team and FG block team out on the field to see if we can get set in time. I say to the person next to me, “no self-respecting defender is going to let the offense get a completion just because they’re ‘supposed to’ for the drill.  Sure enough, Cooper throws it right to the Joshua Blacwell, standing alone in the middle of the field and the ball is intercepted. FG team and FG block run on the field anyway, got lined up in time, and the FG is drilled by McCourt. Not bad for just about 4 previous reps of FG team in live action this week… but wait––Caleb Jones gets flagged for illegal formation and that negates the play. “My bad, coach––I’m not used to being an eligible receiver!” Good point. Maybe that completes the drill. It’s been a pretty good day, but worth noting that the offense/STs failed on all the 2-min/last-second scenarios today. A portent of things to come?
Jeff Fisher has the practice end with some fun. He has the crew set up a Juggs machine so that it shoots punts a mile high and the length of the field. All the big guys line up to try and catch the “100-yd punts”. It’s a competition between offense and defensive lineman. Every defensive guy alive thinks he can catch it like the skill guys and every OL alive dreams of a big man catch for a TD. But this is a lot harder than it looks. T.D. Moultry (he of the nonstop energy in pass rush drills) is the first volunteer.  He looks good lining up under it, until the ball sails about 10 yards over his head. Tariqious Tisdale from Miss gets a hand on it to no avail.
Like I said, harder than it looks. After a couple more reps each way, I feel bad for his next coach, because you can bet Josh will be begging for a chance at a Tackle-eligible play. Here’s another offensive lineman, Caleb Jones. He starts off okay but then gets afraid and runs out of the way. Like an elephant frightened by a mouse. Finally,  Josh Sills, the Oklahoma State OL catches it perfectly,  to a great round of applause (and disbelief on the part of the Defensive guys). Here’s the irrepressible Sam Williams for the defense. No, siree, bub. Somebody on defense got to catch it right? You know all those guys yap constantly about how they could be offensive superstars if only given the chance to shine. Nope. Another offensive lineman to try––it’s the guy who’s done everything right, Orlando Umana.. and, of course, he comes through in the clutch for the second catch. Big Eric Johnson takes a shot. Moves well tracking the ball but it drifts to the crowd of OL and he backs off. The OL guys finally stopped him in a drill. C Eric Kramer can’t catch it. Now, here’s Sam Williams again, probably trying to prove to those STs coaches that he could catch. Nope, over his head. Well, remember coach told him not to catch it if it goes over his head, so… Oh, the defense has got to be embarrassed right now. Small-school OL Tanner Owen gets both hands on it but can’t complete the catch. One more attempt… the defense’s last chance for pride. James Houston from Jackson State via Florida can do just about everything else on the field but catching a 100-yd punt is not in his toolbox,.I guess. After the ball takes a late flutter, he reaches up and can only bat the ball into the air to cheers from the Offense. I suppose you could say the defender knocked it away–– well, that’s what you’re supposed to do on defense!  Yeah, that’s it. Good drill. OL 2, DL 0. The offensive line wanted it. Impressive, man.
Having now seen both teams practice on Wednesday and Thursday (but not earlier in the week), certain guys are jumping out to me.
QB: It’s hard to judge QBs in practice this week because they are obviously playing it safe intentionally, but Cole Kelley, Aqeel Glass, & Chris Oladokun have had good practices and made good decisions.
RB: Greg Bell has shown a lot as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and has run well. He’s one I would like to dig into more. Also hard to judge RBs in no-tackle drills.
WR: Wow, what a group! I mean, the past few years have been crazy-deep WR classes, but to my eye, Kalil Pimpelton, Dai’Jean Dixon, Jequez Ezzard, Lance McCutcheon, and Braylon Sanders are NFL-starter capable. Dixon has good size and build and very quick feet. Ezzard and Pimpelton have the rare combination of KR/PR quickness and ability to get deep. Sanders with great hands and adjustment to off-target throws. McCutcheon has been unstoppable on the contested sideline balls, especially on the left side.
TE: Austin Allen caught almost everything, looks like he has been blocking for his entire (Nebraska born and bred) life. Stock way up here. Josh Babicz is as advertised: good blocker and has receiving skills––a future TE2 fixture. Curtis Hodges is a tall target but he also lined up and blasted people as a run blocker.
C: I was not familiar with Orlando Umana by name before Wednesday, but I heard three different groups of NFL people mention him as an OL who shined in practice. Oddly enough, when I told Umana that after practice on Thursday, he said he was truly surprised since he was obsessing over everything he did wrong all week and that his agent told him he had to ‘pick it up” to get noticed. Duke’s Jack Wohlabaugh is polished and did well in blocking the interior. Given an angle block, he helped collapse a pretty solid Defensive interior a few times.
IOL: It was a bit hard from the stands to measure interior play on either side of the line, but Jarrid Williams stood out in the 11-on-11 drills. Mike Caliendo, Tyrone Kidd, Marcus McKethan, Owen Tanner, & Greg Long all had some good reps I noticed when I did get a view of the interior. In all, I think this IOL group didn’t feature a lot of pulling guard types but did have some solid pass protectors who are built for a straight-ahead run game.  We’ll see more in the game action, where tackling and run game will be featured more.
OT: Not sure where Jalen McKenzie will line up in the NFL, but he looked solid at both tackle spots this week. They even ran a trapping run blocking scheme where he pulled from RT and became the lead blocker on an inside run. I think he’d be good G/T for a team that values movement skills. Caleb Jones is huge and was good in pass protection all week. Aron Johnson was technically sound and stood out in drills. Anthony Acuri was solid in pass rush drills. Andrew Rupcich from tiny Culver-Stockton (I had to look it up… Canton, Missouri) made the jump from NAIA pretty seamlessly. Showed well in run blocking reps, in particular.
EDGE James Houston has tried just about everything here and seems to be pretty good at everything he tried. Played all the STs unit, including upback on the KR team, played middle LB, Outside LB, & DE. He is one of those guys where you say, “If I had 11 of those guys I’d be pretty good.” Has a portfolio of pass rush success, but stood out in coverage and especially as a downhill-playing run assasin. No offense to the NFLPA Bowl but it seems like Sam Williams should be playing in a higher tier of all-star game. He looks like a productive SEC-level pass rusher with length that suits LDE in a 4-3 set up and enough skill in space and pursuit to be able to be a 3-4 EDGE. Bigtime motor, too. Zack VanValkenburg is supposed to be “the other guy” to his top-15 level EDGE rushing teammate Karlaftis, but man was he effective and proactive here in Pasadena. Really good instincts and tackling ability.
OBLB: Jack Cochrane was terrific in all phases. Calling the defenses, run fills, coverage drills. Great showing for him Arron Mosby seemed to be in on an inordinate amount of action; a nose for the ball. Cameron Goode, Clarence Hicks, & Isaiah Pryor all had superior pass coverage reps.
DL: For all the flash of big personalities Houston & Williams, Eric Johnson was arguably the best defensive player this week, and kind of out of nowhere at that. Kudos to whichever scout invited him to this game. He won with long-arm, he won with power, he won with lateral quickness, he won with multiple moves, he won with motor. I happen to agree with the popular sentiment that this isn’t a deep DL class and I’ll add that Johnson looks like a late 3 early 4th pick at worst. Akial Byers & Roderick Perry looked solid defending the run, often making things a big pileup in the middle.
CB: Joshua Blackwell stood out in coverage 1-on-1s, a place that doesn’t do DBs any favors. He consistently made quick click and close breaks on the ball from zone or off-man–– not a common skill for young DBs. Quantrezz Knight & Tre Swilling got a lot of tough assignments against the other team’s best and often in single coverage on the wide side of the field. They came off as confident and unafraid to hold the fort. C.J. Holmes was a little handsy but seemed to improve with each rep and each practice.
S: Marquese Bell has obvious outlier talent. He glides across the field, he’s lanky and capable of disrupting or dissuading a lot of throws. He was often asked to be the deep line of defense, which can make his play a little hard to evaluate but he also spent time lining up wide and playing vs. an outside WR in a cover-3 look. Seems like the physical tools and knack for playmaking are there, just needs the experience and to be coached up on the knowledge part of the equation. Kekaula Kaniho was outstanding in coverage, patiently using his hands late in the rep to rake the pocket or knock throws away at the last moment. Curtis Harvey-Peel showed some physicality and thump as a tackler.
Next up: Saturday’s game