I spent the past week at UCF for the Hula Bowl and was able to see a number of prospects with my own eyes. There were three practices and there were plenty of standouts and guys who boosted their draft stock. From a Steelers point of view there were a number of prospects who I noticed caught the team scouts’ eye and I counted at least 8 different scouts (one of which being Ike Taylor) along with Dan Rooney Jr. also in attendance on the field. There were also multiple people saying that Omar Khan was at the event however I never saw him on the field so I can’t 100% verify that.

This is an interesting change of pace from the old Steelers regime which used to never send many scouts to places like the Hula Bowl, and I also heard that they sent scouts to the College Gridioron Showcase (CGS Bowl) which is unheard of. Some scouts at the event said that this is because the Weidl brothers are of the mindset that no stone should be left unturned and I believe that this is a positive shift for the franchise. 

Throughout the week you could tell pretty quickly that some of the players were a cut above the rest. Here were some of the standouts for team Kai: 

Matt Landers is in a better place now.
  • Arkansas WR Matt Landers (6’4 197) was phenomenal throughout the first practice. He made acrobatic catch after acrobatic catch and was consistently getting himself open. He attacked the catch point was outstanding and performed so well that he didn’t practice any of the days following this (presumably because he got called up to a better game).
  • San Jose State WR Elijah Cooks (6’4 215) has a noticeably large frame and made multiple juggling catches and created mismatches on the perimeter every time he lined up. He had an incredible contested catch during the game and runs smooth routes for his size.
  • Rhode Island WR Ed Lee (5’9 185) was a highlight machine. He routinely won jump balls and played way bigger than his size. He ran crisp routes and looked borderline unguardable. He got work at returner and showed throughout the practices that he could win on the outside as well as on the inside.
  • San Jose Stae CB Nehemiah Shelton (6’1 185) was among the most talked about players on the sidelines and for good reason. He had noticeably light feet and showed good ball skills in 7v7s and 1v1s. He didn’t play in the game itself so it wouldn’t be a shock if he is seen at a larger bowl game like Matt Landers.
OL could barely get a hand on Caleb Sampson.
  • Kansas DT Caleb Sampson (6’3 305) was a one-man wrecking crew consistently using push pulls and swims to get quick wins. It didn’t matter the drill or scenario he was in he was consistently caving in the middle of the offensive line and racking up TFLs.
  • Missouri edge rusher DJ Coleman (6’5 265) was dominant off the edge and it would surprise me if he didn’t get called up to a better game. Most notably on the third day he had multiple sacks and was continuously fork-lifting tackles into the backfield and causing chaos. He carried that performance over to the game and had multiple TFLs and a strip sack.
  • BYU RB Christopher Brooks (6’1 230) didn’t stand out much during the practices but ran like a man possessed during the game. He consistently broke tackles and never stopped churning his feet and ran how you would expect a back of his size to run.
  • Other standouts for team Kai included CB Tyon Davis (Tulsa), CB Jordan Jones (Rhode Island) TE Luke Ford (Illinois), TE Michael Ezeike (UCLA), OG Grant Miller (Baylor), WR Duece Watts (Tulane), and WR Tre’Shaun Harrison (Oregon State).

Standouts for Team Aina

Tim DeMorat gathered a lot of attention this week.
  • Fordham QB Tim DeMorat (6’3 225) easily threw the prettiest ball out of all the QBs. He threw with the most velocity and accuracy and has a very solid frame. He threw a bomb to UAB WR Trea Shropshire during the game and definetely made himself some money over the week.
  • Furman WR Ryan Miller (6’1 210) is a name that I knew going into this game but he was arguably the most impressive WR after Matt Landers. He was listed as a TE/H-Back for Furman but proved that he is a WR at the next level throughout the week. He consistently beat press man and showed good change of direction after the catch. He showed great feel for finding the soft spots in zones and scored a touchdown during the game doing exactly that. In addition to that he was the best blocker out of all the WRs. He also got work at punt/kick returner AND as a gunner, making himself very versatile and coach friendly. 
  • Aurora OT/OG Chris Toth (6’6 302) is from one of the smallest schools out of all the prospects but did a great job making a name for himself. He played left tackle for Aurora University but bumped into left guard this week and played outstandingly. By my count he didn’t give up a single pressure in any live period at guard and was constantly creating holes behind him on double teams and pulls.
  • FSU OG Dillan Gibbons (6’3 333) is a mountain of a human being and plays to his size. He demonstrated a strong anchor and was nasty on the interior in the run game. It is also worth mentioning that he has a pretty sick beard.
Chin flow.
  • Lane Edge Andrew Farmer (6’3 250) is similar to Chris Toth in the sense that both of them were going to have to prove themselves because of the name of their school. Farmer looked much more physically dominant than most of his fellow teammates and even though he wasn’t able to play in the third practice or game he made himself some money.
  • Fordham LB Ryan Greenhagen (6’1 243) was that linebacker that you heard of about a year and a half ago who got 31 tackles against Nebraska. I fully expected him to be a force against the run this week but what surprised me was how good he looked in coverage. In 1v1s against the running backs and tight ends he won 3 out of his 4 reps and that drill is notoriously slanted towards the offense. Greenhagen showing that aspect of his game is going to have him sky rocketing up draft boards. 
  • Rutgers S Avery Young (6’0 207) might be one of my new favorite prospects. He repped at CB in 1v1s and was one of the best defensive performers even including the other corners on his team. Flash forward to the game and he was everywhere making pass break ups from the slot, coming downhill from the safety position and getting TFLs and solo tackles. He showed me that he could play every position in the defensive backfield and on top of that he was also returning kicks. 
  • Middle Tennessee Edge Jordan Ferguson (6’1 266) was probably the most talked about prospect all week amongst scouts. He may be undersized but was a is a run man wrecking crew when rushing the passer. He had two sacks (one being a strip sack) during the game and won with variety of pass rushing moves. He displayed a good anchor and was tough to move off his spot against the run. Another guy who despite his size wouldn’t surprise me if he got an invite to another bowl.
  • Other standouts for team Aina included QB Adrien Martinez (Kansas State), RB Jaleel McLaughlin (Youngstown State), TE EJ Jenkins (Georgia Tech), OC LaQuinston Sharp (Mississippi State), Edge Brevin Allen (Campbell), LB Colby Reeder (Iowa State), CB Christian Braswell (Rutgers), CB Art Green (Houston), and S Christian Izien  (Rutgers).