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SAN ANTONIO -- The morning practice for the East squad was crisp and sharp, considering the drab overcast misty weather, while the afternoon session was a tad flat. It was evident that the players were not only getting to know each other better, but they were learning how to work together as a team. Below are those players who just missed being named to the Top Performers on Tuesday, as seen by Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Barry Every.
Michael Bennett (DT), 4-Star, Ohio State commit
Assets: Bennett has a very muscular upper body with wide shoulders and huge arms. He also is very quick off the snap of the ball.
Areas for improvement: A tad on the light side right now, his legs are athletic looking at this time. He will need to add some mass in the powerbase region.
What was most impressive in practice: Bennett only took a couple of reps of one-on-ones, but he understands pad level and the importance of beating the offensive lineman off the snap count. He showed good leadership by hustling from drill to drill, never walking, setting a great example for his teammates.
Conclusion: I can see him red-shirting as he gains the needed size to play in the Big 10. One thing in his favor that should lead him to success is his versatility, because he also is a stellar offensive lineman.
Nickolas Brassell (ATH), 4-Star, Mississippi State commit
Assets: Brassell has excellent speed and great change of direction.
Areas for improvement: He needs to become a more consistent pass-catcher; sometimes he's brilliant, and other times he loses his concentration.
What was most impressive in practice: Brassell had an incredible catch on a 10-yard out, keeping both feet in as the defender was riding him out of bounds. He also has shown the speed to get behind defenders.
Conclusion: Again, he really reminds me a lot of Chad Bumphis, just a bit faster. Serious consideration needs to be given to changing Brassell from ATH to WR, because that is in his heart and he is very dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Jacoby Brissett (DQB), 4-Star, Uncommitted
Assets: Brissett has excellent height, is very athletic, tosses an accurate deep ball and has enough arm strength to make the wide field throw.
Areas for improvement: Being more consistent with his weight transfer and squaring his shoulders up to the target should help with accuracy on his intermediate passes.
What was most impressive in practice: He had the best afternoon of any quarterback, especially hitting the long pass.
Conclusion: Brissett definitely looks like one of the better athlete quarterbacks in the country. And as one assistant coach said, he absorbs everything and has good leadership skills.
Rodney Coe (ATH), 4-Star, Iowa commit
Assets: Coe is a massive athlete who looks great attacking the ball. He has a versatile body and could project as an ILB, WDE, TE or even a big RB.
Areas for improvement: He needs to really grasp the position that may be best suited for his skill set. He has a huge powerbase and appears to be much heavier than his listed 230 pounds. With that being said, I feel he is at his best chasing the quarterback.
What was most impressive in practice: Coe lined up at the defensive end position and had enough speed to crash down on the quarterback before he could do anything with the ball.
Conclusion: He really wants to play running back for the Hawkeyes, and right now it's hard to project the impact he will have at that position while watching him on defense. Coe has the frame to reach 260 pounds and still remain athletic.
Blake Countess (CB), 4-Star, Michigan commit
Assets: Countess has hips on a swivel, is very competitive and likes to get physical with the receivers.
Areas for improvement: He struggles a tad with faster, quicker receivers looking to take him deep. He does not have great recovery speed. Countess needs to improve his overall speed, which should make him a complete cornerback.
What was most impressive in practice: He had a great pass break-up on a fade to the end zone intended for Charone Peake, a much taller receiver.
Conclusion: You can't teach short-term memory or a player to be ultra competitive. Though he lacks ideal size and great top-end speed, he does remind me a bit of Dre' Bly.
Anthony Sarao (OLB), 4-Star, Stanford commit
Assets: Sarao has tremendous overall body structure, very good speed and the hips to turn and run with backs.
Areas for improvement: How much more weight can he hold on his already muscular frame? Does he have the strength and power to stop the power running game?
What was most impressive in practice: Sarao has the ability to go stride-for-stride when the backs run the wheel route. He also demonstrated excellent lateral speed.
Conclusion: He definitely will be adding some serious speed to the Cardinal defense, and he has the skill set to become a special teams monster.
Sammy Watkins (WR), 4-Star, Clemson commit
Assets: Watkins has outstanding overall speed and body control while possessing the quickness to make defenders miss in space.
Areas for improvement: He seemed a little flat in the morning session, dropping a couple easy passes, so I would say keeping his intensity high throughout the whole day.
What was most impressive in practice: In the afternoon session, Watkins was dominate in goal-line offense, flashing soft hands and showing that he is nearly impossible to cover one-on-one.
Conclusion: He looks every bit the player to become an impact freshman as a receiver and kick returner. Watkins definitely is deserving of a Top 3 position amongst all receivers.
James Wilder, Jr. (ATH), 5-Star, Florida State commit
Assets: Wilder is one of the best overall athletes in the country at any position, and he has the ability to excel at several positions -- RB, LB or even WDE.
Areas for improvement: Running with lower pad level between the tackles will help with durability and getting yards after contact.
What was most impressive in practice: His hands and body control were very impressive when catching balls in the flat. Wilder definitely can make yards after the catch.
Conclusion: He is one guy who should have been a top performer, in my opinion. Wilder is winning me over with his offensive skill set, and I believe he may be a much better running back prospect than most people think. I predict he will make an impact as a freshman.
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