Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
The rain stayed away and we got to see some action at St. Pete High in the afternoon. Once again West head coach Romeo Crennel was a little too dedicated to calisthenics and stretching for the scouting eyes in attendance, but he did give us some gristle to chew on.
My focus was on the linemen and linebackers today. So focused was I on these guys that I did not see a single pass.
One of the players I really wanted to check out was Oklahoma C Gabe Ikard, a potential 3rd/4th round talent for the Lions (among other teams). He played quite well when I saw him in person against Notre Dame earlier this year. Ikard was good-not-great in the afternoon session.
He struggled to handle LA Tech DT Justin Ellis in a man-on-man drill, though it’s worth noting Ellis outweighs him by 46 pounds. Ikard didn’t get his arms extended well and heard about it from the coach. Anchor strength is not Ikard’s game.
What is his game shined in team drills. He gets to the second level extremely adeptly for a center, and he engages with power and balance. He destroyed Pitt State’s Nate Dreiling on one rep, and he pushed big Evan Gill from Manitoba backwards as if he was on skates on the damp turf on another. In watching the linemen interact with one another, they all clearly like and respect the Sooner.
Gill was a disappointment. There is definite potential but he’s quite raw. As an example, on one pass rush effort he stood straight up and did a three-step shake-and-bake before attacking. Georgia guard Christopher Burnette, who struggled against pretty much everyone else, just waited for him to move and pushed him aside. I did note his explosion off the snap a couple of times, and he’s good at staying low out of his stance other than the aforementioned gaffe. Gill also got walled off and moved easily by Montana tackle Danny Kistler in team drills.
Kistler caught my eye a little. He’s the tallest of the tackles on the West but also the most erect. Yet he naturally bent his knees well and understood how to uncoil his hips to create power and drive. His hand placement needs work (he’s wide) but he showed well today. As I tweeted from practice:
Montana T Danny Kistler tall but can sink hips & drive. Bested Stanford's Mauro on rush drill three times in a row #shrinegame
— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) January 14, 2014
Also looking good was Nebraska tackle Jeremiah Sirles. He’s thick and not a natural bender, but when he does sink his hips and flex his knees he’s a rock-solid edge anchor. He quickly squares himself to outside rushers very innately, better than any other tackle on the West by far.
Furman guard Dakota Dozier was another player I watched intently. He had a mixed bag. On one rep in 9-on-7 he fell off a block that allowed the LB (Prince Shembo) to crash in and make a play, but on the very next rep he pushed Virginia Tech DT Derrick Hopkins out of the way with a great initial punch and impressive leg drive. During the pass rush drill he was very good at sitting in his stance while engaged, showing deft footwork. But he was rightly yelled at by the coach for not always getting his arms and hands coordinated. “Who you gonna block with one arm” was sent his way more than once.
Colorado DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe has a very quick first step, one that bested Sirles badly on one rep. His problem is what to do once he gets the edge. He tends to tack too wide. I did like the speed at which he spun on an inside move, though once again he didn’t come out of it controlled enough to get a savvy QB.
Bloomsburg DE Larry Webster III is built like a volleyball player. He’s a lanky 6’5.5” and 249 pounds, with long arms and massive hands. He really lacks any sort of reputable base strength, struggling to not get blown over when they did a double-team drill. His long arms were a problem on one rep in the pit drill, as he brought them from out wide and completely exposed his chest to BYU tackle Charles Leno, who got both hands on the bottom of his chest pad and rocked him easily out of the way. Webster is miscast as a defensive end; he has the build of a 3-4 OLB. There unfortunately has not been any chance to see him operate in space to see if he could make that move.
Wisconsin’s Ryan Groy sits high in his stance, which negates his power. The coaches did like his aggression in attacking the inside part of the defender’s chest on more than one occasion, which gave him leverage to ride the rush beyond the QB. As an added bonus, he looked pretty good as the long snapper. The Shrine Game does not bring in special long snappers, unlike the Senior Bowl.
As for the LBs, the most impressive was South Dakota’s Tyler Starr. He was the most fluid in the 45-drill (where the coach holds the ball and has the player change direction as they veer backwards), looking comfortable getting his weight around and staying balanced. He also caught the ball with his hands more often than not.
Shaquil Barrett from Colorado State is never going to lead his team in interceptions. He got a lot of looks as the SAM backer, and while he’s built for the task (think a taller Stephen Tulloch) he’s not very agile or comfortable flowing laterally.
I tweeted out this pic of Sparty’s Max Bullough doing a backpedal. This is as much as he can bend, folks…
It was not pretty. He weighed in at 267 pounds and looks every biscuit of it, and he was huffing and puffing quite a bit. Some of that is natural; he’s a vocal guy. But he really needs to focus on his conditioning a lot between now and the Combine.
Stay tuned for more. If things go right tonight we might even have another video with a guest or two tomorrow night!
Tags: Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Christopher Burnette, Dakota Dozier, Danny Kistler, East West Shrine Game, Evan Gill, Gabe Ikard, Jeremiah Sirles, Justin Ellis, Larry Webster, Max Bullough, Ryan Groy, Shrine Game, Tyler Starr