December 30, 2008

All-American Bowl: West Hot 11

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SAN ANTONIO - The second day of practice for the West team started out slower than the first. The coaches noticed that the players were a little tired and even admited, "We may have worked them too hard yesterday." Still there are players who, despite two tough practices, where able to impress and The Hot 11 are some of the players that made noise on Tuesday.

West Team Hot 11 - Tuesday
6-2/244, Corona (CA) Centennial
Here's betting that Burfict broke quite a few coffee tables growing up as a kid. No one loves contact more than the physical insider backer and he always seems to be around it. Burfict blew up Christine Michael on an interior run drill in the morning and then in a scrimmage period in the afternoon he blew up a inside zone play by nearly knocking Michael Philipp into the running back. Along with his physical nature, Burfict is surprisingly fluid and athletic. He has good body control and catches the ball well. As big as he is, it is shocking to see him move so well.

6-0/192, League City (TX) Clear Creek
Within a loaded defensive backfield, Davis quietly put together a very strong and very consistent afternoon. He is a strong, thick cornerback that plays the position with good technique and always seems to be in the right place. During the scrimmage period Davis showed his willingness to hit by coming up and causing a fumble on a quick hitch to Patrick Patterson. Davis may not have the flash of some other defensive backs in the game but it is very tough to find a weakness in his game and he is certainly the type of cornerback that makes defensive coordinators sleep easy at night.
6-7/345, Foley (Ala.) High
No player on either team this week has stirred up the type of buzz that D.J. Fluker has this week. That buzz is not restricted to coaches, reporters and analysts either. The most popular topic of conversation on the sideline between reps and at water breaks is Fluker. His teammates have been in awe of his athleticism, strength and sheer size. Fluker again had a great day pancaking elite players like Alex Okafor (Watch here) on pass rush drills and showing phenomenal quickness getting to the second level on running drills. As if his athleticism needed any confirmation, Fluker raced a very athletic Chris Davenport in a 20-yard dash in front of his teammates and coaches and won by a decisive two steps.

6-0/165, Fresno (CA) Edison
Among a stellar group of defensive backs on the West squad, Harris probably had the best day on Tuesday. He is a quick twitch athlete that plays with great instincts and is hungry for a big play and an interception. He reads routes extremely well, often beating wide receivers out of their cuts. Harris is a little on the thin side but he has good height and he is equally effective defending the deep ball as he is making a break on the quick game.

6-4/280, San Antonio (TX) Warren
Jamarkus McFarland has had the buzz for a long time as the top interior defensive lineman in the state of Texas but Calvin Howell is stating his case for that title this week. Howell is a quick twitch athlete that is explosive off the snap and strong on the inside. He has been probably the most consistently disruptive interior lineman for the West squad through the first two days of practice. Along with his unique ability, Howell is also a big personality on the field and one of the players that makes practice fun and competitive for his teammates.

6-7/245, Broomfield (CO) Legacy
Nick Kasa was consistently in the thick of the action on Tuesday morning and afternoon. At 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, Kasa has length that he uses to his advantage. He also has elite speed that was drawing praise from several of his teammates all day. Despite his obvious physical tools, Kasa doesn't get by on those alone. He plays with a very high motor and intensity level and he is a smart player. Don't be surprised if Kasa is the most productive defender on either team on Saturday.

6-2/200, Fresno (CA) Edison
Along with Harris, McDonald forms a formidable Fresno (Calif.) Edison tandem of defensive backs. McDonald has the size of a safety at 6-2, 205 but he could easily play cornerback for any time at that size. He is physical at the line of scrimmage but he turns and runs well, doesn't ever let his feet get caught in quick sand and he tracks the ball well. McDonald really has a complete package as a defensive back and his size and versatility allow him to do a lot of different things in any defense.

6-3/280, Lufkin (TX) Lufkin
Just when it was starting to look like McFarland may be slipping among the ranks of a very talented defensive line group for the West, he went and made some plays that demonstrated why he has developed such a strong reputation. On two consecutive plays (watch here) on pass rush drills, McFarland tossed around opposing offensive linemen using some beautiful precision with his hands. McFarland doesn't have the size of some of the other defensive linemen but his use of his hands and his ability to diagnose a play are what set him apart.
5-11/202, Beaumont (TX) West Brook
Michael is a coach's dream. He has a great attitude and works hard, leading by example with his work ethic. Even in drills on air, Michael is not just going through the motions. He finishes every drill and is looking to score every time he touches the ball. He has demonstrated terrific acceleration with the ball in his hands and is a touchdown waiting to happen. During two 40-yard dash races between Michael and the three other fastest players on the team (Randall Carroll, Pat Hall and Cliff Harris), Michael placed second in both of them to Pat Hall. There is a reason Michael was named one of the four captains.

6-3/195, Bastrop (LA) Bastrop
The nation's top player is noticeably hampered by a hamstring injury that he sustained in the semifinals of the Louisiana state playoffs but even while admitting that he is only at around 70 percent, it's hard to ignore his natural abilities. In ball drills it isn't even close as to what receiver is the most natural pass catcher and most comfortable with his hands. Even while going almost half speed, very few defensive backs have been able to shut Randle down. He is effortless off the line of scrimmage and despite his long strides, he can be both a threat to beat you deep or cut you up on short and intermediate routes.

6-4/270, St. Louis Gateway
Richardson continues to impress with his versatility and athleticism. Part of a scary defensive front, Richardson was great with his hands on the interior and was unblockable much of the morning in one-on-ones. He has the speed to be effective off of the edge with a speed rush but he has the strength of a defensive tackle. Richardson is also not simply a player that relies on his athleticism. He has a nice array of pass rush moves and is technically sound as a defensive lineman.




 

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