LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The countdown to Sunday's Under Armour All-American Game officially began Wednesday with the start of practice for the White team and the Black team. Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barton Simmons breaks down the top Black team performers from Thursday's workout.
5-10/185, Miami Palmetto
It looks like Berry should get the bulk of the carries for the White team on Sunday and a big reason for that is his versatility. Berry has been explosive between the tackles and shows good acceleration with the ball in his hands. He catches the ball effectively and he will take what the defense gives him, whether that be a physical inside run or a race to the sideline.
Gastonia (N.C.) Ashbrook
Boyd is yet another burner in a receiving corps that includes speedsters Nu'Keese Richardson and Andre Debose. Of those three, Boyd may even be the best threat on the deep ball because he has a little more size and he looks very comfortable going up and fighting defensive backs for the ball. He made a couple of nice adjustments on deeper balls during Thursday's practice for some big plays. Running his routes, Boyd is a smooth strider that is definitely the type of player that you want split wide and stretching the defense.
6-3/183, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Among the loaded Black receiving corps, Carter has been the most productive and consistent through the first two days of practice. He is not going to blow you away with his speed or athleticism like a Richardson or Debose but he always finds a way to get open. He reads defenses well and when the ball gets to him he is sure handed. The bottom line is that Carter just has an uncanny knack for getting open and he should develop into an impact player in the Big Ten.
Downs came out of his shell a little bit on Thursday and began to show some signs of what has made him such a force on the high school level. In pass-rush drills, Downs was violent and aggressive with his hands and kept his motor running, putting together one of the better one-on-one periods of any of the defensive linemen. Downs looks trim and athletic and a little bit undersized for an interior defensive lineman, but his intensity level makes up for any size deficiencies.
Wheaton (Md.) Good Counsel
At only 16, Jenkins has one of the best linebacker builds on either squad. He is already developed but stil sleek and athletic. He is not as quick on his reads as some of the White linebackers but once he finds the ball he is downhill and physical. At the point of contact, Jenkins is explosive and he has the athleticism and size to make plays on every level of the defense.
On Wednesday, Kent struggled at times in coverage but Thursday was a totally different animal. Kent made at least three interceptions over the course of the day and where he looked stiff and high on Wednesday, he was able to turn his hips and break on routes on Thursday. With his size and skill set, he still looks like a safety on the next level but he has shown the ability to make plays in coverage at corner during this game.
6-0/267, Greenville (Fla.) Madison
What is excedingly evident is that McDaniel is just a "football player" which is a compliment that is not always obvious, even with All-Americans. He works hard, he is competitive, he has a high intensity level and he is physical. You can always count on McDaniel giving a good effort and if a lineman slips up, McDaniel will make him pay. He has probably the quickest first step in Orlando among the interior defenders and he has a great feel for what the offense is doing and his keys. The five-star also looks to be polished and well-coached in his technique and use of his hands.
Toledo (Ohio) St. John's
Mewhort was on the winning end of two consecutive one-on-one reps against Jacobbi McDaniel and that is saying something. He gives the Black squad a reliable, consistent option at center and he proved that he has the strength and quickness to handle pass protection. He has also shown good athleticism in the run game and will allow Mason Walters to put in some time at offensive tackle.
Myles is a prototypical safety. He has a big long frame that can add weight. He looks comfortable as a one-high safety in either deep thirds coverage or as a free. He can backpedal, turn his hips and cover like a cornerback and he has good ball skills. With Craig Loston getting all the headlines on the White team, Myles has a chance to prove himself as an impact safety on the Black squad as well.
5-9/175, Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes
There may not be a prospect that is raising his stock more in Orlando than what Reid has been able to do through two days. Reid's athleticism has never been a question but at corner he has looked raw and unpolished in the past. Not this week. Reid has made play after play out of his cornerback spot. On Thursday he made a big hit on a hitch route only to follow it up with a diving interception. He has stayed in the hip pocket of every receiver he has covered and even when he gives up a catch he has been right there to limit any extra yardage. He also looks to be the starting punt returner, further illustrating his athleticism.
6-6/290, Wolfforth (Texas) Frenship
Not many offensive tackles are comfortable at center but that is exactly what Walter is: an athletic tackle who can snap the ball. Walters' knee bend and flexibility are very impressive, as is his mobility and quickness out of his stance. Walters also has the kind of body that can handle a lot more weight even at 290 pounds.