ALLEN, Texas – Here are some random thoughts from the Texas vs. Nation All Star Game. I got a chance to evaluate the North squad on Wednesday morning.
- Last week when I attended the Senior Bowl practices it was nice to see the NFL coaching staff gets to work with the players putting them through the drills getting them ready for the game. This week, the coach team for the North team is Howard Schnellenberger and I have to be honest that I never scouted a school that Schellenberger coached at whether that was Louisville, Oklahoma or Florida International. I had heard stories about the intensity of his practices largely due to his background with Bear Bryant and Don Shula. The first practice out of the gate for the North team was one of the most physically demanding practices that I had ever witnessed for an All Star game. The North squad was forced to practice indoors while the Texas squad was able to get outside but that didn’t stop Schellenberger from running his 9-on-7 drills and goal line packages at full speed with tackling playing a major role in the two and half hour practice. The players to their credit responded well and put on a good show for the scouts that were in attendance.
- Wide receiver DeVonte Christopher of Utah caught my eye with his smoothness of routes but the way he was able to set up corners with the speed he was able to run them. His best move was to press hard inside to drive the corner off, then plant on his inside foot, then driving hard to the outside to gain separation. There were several routes where he was able to get vertical quickly giving the quarterbacks an easy throw up the sideline. Did see Christopher run a slant where he tried to body catch the ball inside and he dropped it other than that, he was able to catch the ball in his hands.
- Really liked the explosive play of defensive end Emeka Onyenekwu of Louisiana-Lafayette in the drills I observed. Onyenekwu is physically a good looking kid at 254 pounds and has the frame to add more weight. He played as a weak side end and would most likely do the same in the Cowboys scheme. He was always on the move up the field but you also saw him throw pass rush moves as he did it. Nice swat move to get him around the corner. Had a couple of reps where the ball was run to his side and he was able to hold up against the one-on-one blocks. Really like how active he is trying to chase the ball as well.
- Running back Latavius Murray of Central Florida passes the eye ball test at 6’3” and 224 pounds but he doesn’t play with much quickness or explosiveness to and through the hole. It does take him time to build up speed but once he gets going, he can be okay. Doesn’t have the speed to get the ball to the edge and around the corner. Did like the way he caught the ball. Able to get through the line and square his shoulders and present himself as a target. Was able to adjust and make catch with the defender on his back. See him as a back that should be a good fit for a team that runs with a single back. Has the size to bounce off tacklers when he gets the ball inside. Another back to keep an eye on is George Winn of Cincinnati who is a downhill runner that played with toughness and balance. He is built lower to the ground at 5-10 but he carries his weight well at 218 pounds.
- None of the quarterbacks on the North squad would be any help to the Cowboys. Matt McGloin of Penn State, Ryan Griffin of Tulane and Matt Brown of Illinois State don’t appear to have to tools or the skills to really work with. I didn’t see accurate throws to stationary targets and when asked to throw on the move, it was a challenge. There were too many times where I felt like the ball was forced and poor decisions in where they were going with the ball. These quarterbacks really made these receivers to have to work for the ball.