The East-West Shrine Game is going to be played on Saturday January 19 at 4.pm. ET, but players from around the country have already assembled in the Tampa area, as practices for each squad started this afternoon.
Generally, the players at the Shrine game come from smaller schools, but don't be fooled into thinking that there isn't talent on the field.
This was the first practice for the players participating in the Shrine game. It is expected that these players will have to adjust to the new coaches and players that are on the field with them, so the first day can bring some adversity. It will be interesting to watch the practices as the players get more comfortable with what is going on around them.
The following are notes from the East practice.
Matt Stankiewitch, OL, Penn State, 6'2, 303 pounds.
Stankiewitch was impressive during team drills as he displayed a good, strong base and the ability to sink his hips and hold his own physically. It was a good first day for him.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State, 6'5, 226 pounds.
There will be a lot of discussion about Klein's severe mechanical flaws and the reality is that Klein doesn't see the field well and throws the ball late. He threw a terrible interception in the first play of 7-on-7's, as he was late delivering the ball and Richmond safety Cooper Taylor picked him off. If Klein was here to prove that he can be trusted to throw the football on time, he failed today.
Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illinois, 6'1", 193 pounds.
Hawthorne has prototype NFL size and speed, but he lacks instincts and had a rough day recognizing and reacting to the ball in the air.
Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt, 5'9", 214 pounds.
Stacy looks like a one-cut running back who runs hard but struggles in pass protection. He could be a nice fit in a zone running scheme in the NFL.
Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh, 5'10", 190 pounds.
Graham showed an interesting skill set in practice today. He ran very hard between the tackles, a pleasant surprise from such a small back. He had the cutback on display as well and his he boasted good burst. Graham is the best running back in this game.
Montel Harris, RB, Temple, 5'9", 208 pounds.
During a pass play, Harris picked up the blitz, and had to handle a player much bigger than him. He delivered a solid shot and kept his quarterback clean. He tends to get swallowed a little by the bigger bodies at the line of scrimmage and he did not run with much power today.
Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State, 6'2", 251 pounds.
Hodges really stood out today in a variety of ways. He displayed good physicality as he attacked the line of scrimmage and plugged run gaps. He overpowered offensive linemen and was able to shed them and get to the running back. He flashed some nice speed while pursuing from the far side of the field and held up well in the first practice.
Chris Pantale, TE, Boston College, 6'6", 255 pounds.
Pantale showed natural, soft hands and consistently plucked the ball away from his frame.
D.C. Jefferson, TE, Rutgers, 6'6", 250 pounds.
Jefferson is tall with very long legs and arms. He struggled to separate and chopped his feet to slow down. He lacks power at the point of attack.
The following are notes from the West practice.
Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M, 5'11", 220 pounds.
Michael is a big, bruising back who lacks lateral quickness, an initial burst and the speed to break away on runs. He showed patience in allowing his blocks to get set up.
Zach Line, RB, SMU, 6'1", 230 pounds
Line was very good in pass protection in today's practice. He doesn't have great speed, but he is a smart back who protects the ball with both hands and displayed good ball security. Line has a little more short-area quickness than I thought he would, as he found a way to run through small openings in today's practice.
Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah State, 5'8", 191 pounds.
Williams ran really low to the ground and with some nice burst and speed today.
Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA, 6'7", 255 pounds.
Fauria is a very tall tight en,d who struggles to run routes but has great hands and can really catch the ball. He was injured diving for the ball (he made the catch) and didn't return to practice.
Keith Pough, LB, Howard, 6'3", 238 pounds.
Pough is a very good athlete with solid edge pass rushing skills. In practice today, he showed a good hand punch and the ability to turn his hips and stay in coverage with a running back.
A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State. 6'2", 244 pounds.
Klein had a really good practice as he was constantly around the ball in coverage and showed natural football instincts. He has fluid hips and was able to turn and run with tight ends and running backs.
DeVonte Holloman, LB, South Carolina, 6'2", 240 pounds.
Holloman is a very good athlete in space, as he showed a nice, deep drop and good ability to close on the ball.
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