January 1, 2008

Offense-Defense: East Tuesday notebook

FT. LAUDERDALE - As with most all-star games, the roster endured a shuffling on the first day of practice for the East squad at the Offense-Defense Bowl. Among the players who were on the original roster but won't be participating are Miami Northwestern QB Jacory Harris, Daytona Seabreeze DB Jerome Swinton, Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas RB Jeremiah Harden. All three, according to event officials, canceled due to injuries.

Replacements included RB Jermaine Thomas of Jacksonville First Coast and QB Orhian Johnson of Boca Ciega (Fla.), who did not make it in time for Tuesday's practice session.

Thomas was most excited about his inclusion.

"I was wondering how I didn't get into an all-star game," said Thomas, who has committed to Florida State. "I had just finished cutting down a tree in our yard, I was laying on the bed, and the call [came]," said Thomas, who has committed to Florida State. "... I was excited."

According to event officials, Phillip Pierre-Louis, who was not at either the morning or afternoon practice, is expected to be with the team on Wednesday.

RAY SAYS HE'S HOLDING FIRM - Chatter in recruiting circles that Tallahassee North Florida Christian star Melvin Ray, an Alabama commitment, may end up at Florida State wasn't met with much credence when Ray was asked directly about it on Tuesday.

"When I commit to a school, I don't say it just to say it, I did it because I knew where I wanted to be," said Ray. "I don't want to lead anybody on - I feel like that's not fair."

Ray pulled in 58 receptions for 1,058 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior at NFC.

MISSING IN ACTION - It was a lonely afternoon practice for linebacker Mike Yancich on Tuesday - at least for about an hour. Of the five linebackers on the East roster, four of them missed the team bus to the practice field at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Yancich, a Penn State commitment, got some one-on-one time with his position coach during individual drills as fellow linebackers Michael Dowtin, Bruce Taylor, Brandon Beachum[/db] and Mike Zordich arrived about an hour after practice began.

The team hotel is about 10 minutes north of Aquinas, and players bus there on a tight schedule. East head coach Cris Carter, the former All-Pro Minnesota Vikings star, was not made available for comment on Tuesday.

CARTER HAS RECEIVERS' EARS - Carter worked directly with the wide receivers in the morning, and it was clear his NFL pedigree went a long way with his pupils. Teaching about using their arms effectively while coming out of their breaks, Carter had the full attention of DeJuan Miller, Kenny Stafford, Melvin Ray and the rest of the East pass catchers.

ETC. - Perhaps the most anticipated decision among the East's uncommitted players is defensive end Glenn Harbin, and the 250-pound pass rusher did little to bring down the suspense on Tuesday. With Alabama, LSU, Florida and North Carolina among his options, Harbin was the only no-show among 14 East players requested for interviews by the media. ... As for schemes, it appears the East team will run some spread option. Both quarterbacks practiced the give read from the shotgun formation on Tuesday. Defensively, a base 4-3 scheme was installed in the morning session. ... Players got to practice in completely different weather conditions Tuesday, as the morning practice brought high heat and the afternoon session brought a steady rain. There was no lightning in the area, so the team practiced through the conditions. ... The East is practicing on a professional-quality synthetic surface at Aquinas High, a field turf that is far more safe than its ancestor, astroturf. No East players suffered an injury Tuesday on about five total hours of practice.

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