January 1, 2007

Offense-Defense Monday Hot 11: West

The daily Hot 11 from the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl highlights 11 of the top performers during a specific day of practice/workouts as determined by Rivals.com. This breakdown is for the West squad after Monday's practice sessions.

On Monday, the West's practices for the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl was highlighted by the play of lockdown defensive backs Ben Wells and Earl Thomas. But the talk from many of the observers on Monday was the play of Lufkin, Texas, receiver Dez Bryant. After another dominating performance, Bryant's stock looks to be ready to jump through the roof.

Offense-Defense All-American Bowl Monday Hot 11: West

DeAngelo Benton, WR, Bastrop, La.

Benton arrived after missing Sunday's practices and made a quick impression. While he's obviously still learning the plays and is a little behind the learning curve, Benton impressed with great breaks, solid route running and explosive ability to get inside the defenders and get open. He beat Anthony Gildon on a double move really bad, drawing a lot of whoops from the crowd of players watching the battle.

Anthony Boyles, WR, Gardena (Calif.) Serra

While teammate Da'John Harris gets the majority of attention, Boyles has proved he's an elite receiver in the two days of practices. He does have amazingly long arms, which allow him to go up and snatch the football out of the air even with tight coverage. He doesn't appear to be the fastest receiver, but defenders definitely have a hard time keeping up with him in the open field.

Dez Bryant, WR, Lufkin, Texas

Bryant is a repeat selection to the Hot 11 and there are a lot of whispers that he might be the best player on the entire West roster. Just ask a few of his teammates. "Man, Dez is going to make a lot of money some day," defensive back Earl Thomas said. "It's just an honor to guard a receiver like that. I concentrated hard every time I went up against him because I know if I make one slip up, he'll go up and over you."

Jordan Campbell, LB, Norco, Calif.

Campbell arrived for practices on Monday and he made an immediate impact. A true leader at linebacker, Campbell quickly picked up the defense and was making a lot of calls and reading the offense rather efficiently. He also had the hit of the day against Lennon Creer when he met the star running back in the hole. It looked like Creer was a speeding train running into a brick wall.

Da'John Harris, DL, Gardena (Calif.) Serra

Harris looked to be the best defensive lineman for the second straight day. In multiple repetitions in the one-on-one battles, Harris continued to dominate. No matter who he went against, Harris seemed to get the best of them. He did admit to getting held up on time in the 11-on-11 drills, but that was his only slip up on the day. It's easy to see why teams from all over the country wanted him. But USC and Oregon now have the lead on him over Michigan.

Chad Jones, DB, Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab

Everybody was waiting for it to happen. When was Chad Jones going to show why he's one of the nation's most elite players? The wait ended in the afternoon practice. With full pads on, Jones really stepped his game up to another level. He was really impressive filling the run and coming up with several big hits toward the end of practice on Monday. He's extremely good at supporting the run and when the pads were on and people were going full speed, he finally found his grove.

Jarvis Jones, OL, Rosenberg (Texas) Lamar Consolidated

Jones continues to showcase his talent in pass blocking situations. Once he locks on to you, it's over. He has such long arms, it's almost impossible to get inside on him. He then uses his tall frame to shut people down. While he still needs to get in the weight room and bulk up and add weight, he still is easily one of the best linemen for the West squad.

Keenan Robinson, LB, Plano (Texas) East

Robinson turned in another really good effort on Monday. He really impressed in the full contact drills against a full offense. He just is always around the football. You follow the ball and Robinson will be there to meet it. He's also showing some good pop on his hits. The Texas Longhorn commitment should put up great stats in the game.

Earl Thomas, DB, Orange (Texas) West Orange Stark

Thomas definitely proved he's also a talented defender. He easily is the most physical cornerback on the West roster, and he proved that on one play when he got tangled up with Benton. By the end of the play Benton was on the ground and Thomas almost came away with the interception. "I think those are my biggest strengths - being fast and being physical," Thomas said. "A lot of people don't think I'm that strong because I'm not that tall, so I just prove them wrong almost every time."

Ben Wells, DB, Beaumont (Texas) Ozen

Wells can talk the talk and walk the walk. He's not afraid to let receivers know he's going to lock them down and he did just that on Monday's practice. Wells used a great combination of strength, speed and technique to man up on Bryant, Benton and Drew Davis. On one repetition, Bryant beat Wells deep with a miracle catch. But Wells didn't get beat the rest of the day as he locked up other receivers, and he also got the best of Bryant a few times later on.

Darrion Weems, OL, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft

Weems complained after practice about his rear being sore, but it's the defenders that should be complaining because he ended up with several big pancakes. Weems had his best practice session so far in the afternoon on Monday. He was able to really get a big push in the running drills and his pass blocking continues to get better and better.

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