LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The rundown on Thursday’s top performers following the second day of practice in preparation for Sunday’s Under Armour All-America Game. The players were in full pads for this workout.
Shemar Stewart, Opa Locka (FL) Monsignor Pace, one of the top unsigned players in the country, came out of the blocks today ready to put his stamp on practice. In the individual periods Stewart displayed an excellent get off with burst and bend.. He was violent with his hands on the bags and played with a low pad level. Anytime he took his foot off the pedal, his defensive line coach got after him and Stewart immediately ramped it back up. Once they got to 1-on-1s and team periods the pass rush ability going from speed to power along with showing a club or rip move was what kept the offensive linemen on their heels. Stewart showed full versatility lining up at both end positions as well as three-technique on the interior. The nation’s No. 9 player in the 247Sports Composite rankings left no doubt with his play today. Texas A&M is the 247Sports Crystal Ball favorite with Miami and Georgia also in hot pursuit.
Next Five Defense
Defensive line – Walter Nolen, Powell (Tenn.) High
Nolen has been living up to the billing and once the pads came on he continued to be a force. In the pass rush portion of practice whether it was Neto Umeozulu, Ty Chan, Zach Rice or Deshawn Woods trying to block him, Nolen won the rep. Using various pass rush moves along with his agility, power, punch you saw the full package. The Texas A&M signee has put together two good days this week.
Edge – Justice Finkley, Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt-Trussville
Energy is the name of the game for Finkley. He plays with it from the start. This muscular player plays with tremendous leverage and power. He is very good with his hands and is slippery to block either in the run game or pass protection. This guy takes no plays off and is going to bring it for Texas where he is headed as a mid-year enrollee.
Edge – Popeye Williams, Westfield (Ind.) High
This guy is poised to increase his ranking if he continues the week the way he has started the first couple of days. This athletic pass rusher has been getting after it from the start. Coming out with burst off the ball, good pad level and the ability to use his hands well, Williams has been hard to contain. With a frame and build to add weight and mass. He is definitely playing with something to prove and should have Louisville fans excited for this future as a Cardinal.
Linebacker – Stone Blanton, Madison (MS) Madison-Ridgeland Academy
This well built and athletic linebacker has played with a high level of intensity in the first two days. With the pads coming on today he was flowing to the ball and showing up sideline to sideline and finishing. The South Carolina signee has done a very good job reading and reacting to the blocking schemes as well as showing up in coverage all the while playing through injury.
Safety – Bryan Allen Jr., Aledo (TX) High
The name of the game with Allen is consistentcy, he is always where he is supposed to be and quarterbacking the back end of the defense. He has done a good job in coverage as well playing with good eyes; he stays in his peddle with good pad level along with crisp breaks on the ball. The Texas signee also had a couple nice pass break-ups including one while guarding Evan Stewart and an int. on the day.
Top Five Offense
Wide receiver- Luther Burden, East St. Louis (Ill.) High
For the second day in a row Burden was able to have his way with the defensive backs. Whether it was the intermediate routes or him taking the top off and going deep his ability to create separation is outstanding. He plays with a pace where he is constantly lulling the defenders to throttle down and then his acceleration kicks in and it’s over. His ball tracking ability is next level and the Missouri signee will see a lot of balls early and often in Columbia.
Wide receiver – Chris Marshall, Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall
The big man lined up mainly in the slot today and numerous plays. Immediately flashed his burst on the snap of the ball. Once he closes the air space on the defensive back then his size and catch radius takes over. Marshall did a nice job of plucking the ball out of the air on Sherrod Covil. The Texas A&M commit is also the nation’s No. 62 player in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Offensive line- Tyler Booker, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy
The big man headed to Alabama, had a very nice day. Booker has a college ready frame and build to compete right now. Whether he was at left tackle or left guard he showed very good pad level and punch. He was also light on his feet where he did a good job redirecting on his pass sets and sitting down and controlling the bull rush. The only player to give him any issues was Shemar Stewart. He is living up to his billing with a strong performance and some of the best offensive line technique here.
Wide receiver- Antonio Williams, Irmo (SC) Dutch Fork
Smooth, athletic, twitchy are the things that stood out watching Williams today. He was excellent in his route running today and made contested catches in coverage. Playing the slot today he was able to run the complete route tree from there. The Clemson signee really flashed in the red zone in the team periods against the safeties on Team Legend.
Offensive line – Kam Dewberry, Humble (Texas) Atascocita
The Aggie signee was excellent today in 1-on-1 pass rush. He played both right tackle and right guard and was a wall that stoned everyone. He used good feet and technique but once he anchored and sat down it was over for defenders like Tyreese Fearbry and Omari Abor. Dewberry looks in good shape and has shown good agility in the past two days.
News and Notes
Emery Jones from Catholic HS in Baton Rouge played both right guard and right tackle, this big man is trending in the right direction and has the physical profile to match. He is built like a road grader but is light on his feet. Jones is headed to LSU.
Ohio State signee Kenyatta Jackson has a build and frame to add 20 to 30 pounds easily and still look lean. He has nice length to his frame and a huge wingspan.
The fact that Harold Perkins from Cypress (TX) Cy Park, is playing running back exclusively should only tell you how elite of a player he is. He is very natural running the ball, pressing the line of scrimmage, finding daylight and accelerating to hit the hole. Perkins averaged almost 18 yards per carry as a senior gaining 1,194 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns.
And for the second straight day, Florida State signee A.J. Duffy was the top quarterback. More from Greg Biggins here.