January 2, 2008

Under Armour: Wednesday's Silver notebook

ORLANDO, Fla. - With an offensive line roster that was already hurting for depth after Vaughn Dotsy was unable to make the trip from California due to injury, the Silver team received more bad news on Tuesday night when tackle Mike Goodman returned to his hometown of Miami to deal with a personal matter.

However, the Under Armour All-Star Game organizers acted quickly in a move that must have pleased the Silver coaches. Miami (Fla.) Northwestern offensive tackle Brandon Washington was added to the roster and joined the team for Wednesday workouts.

The 6-foot-5, 315 pound Miami commit came in at a seeming disadvantage, as all the other players have been going through practice for the past two days. However, that did not stop Washington from making a strong first impression.

Appearing to have lost weight over the course of the season, Washington used his size and strength to manhandle the defensive linemen that he faced in one-on-one drills.

On paper, it looks like the Silver offensive line will struggle with the Red team's defensive front Saturday, so Washington's arrival was certainly a welcome development.

Washington's powerful run blocking skills should also help running backs Jamie Harper, Aundre Dean, Andre Ellington, and Brandon Barnes find some running room.

A new star each day

The wide receiver corps, by far the strength of the team, once again stood out for the Silver squad. With the depth at the position, it seems to be different players each day that make the strongest impression.

One exception to that is A.J. Green. The 6-foot-4, 200 pound Georgia commit runs effortlessly and once again showed soft hands and caught anything in his vicinity. He is by far the top prospect at his position on the Silver team.

On Wednesday, the other standout receiver was T.J. Lawrence. The 6-foot-2, 190 pound uncommitted prospect was originally slated by the UA All-Star Game organizers as a safety, but it seems a wise move now to have moved him to the offensive side of the ball.

He showed great hands over the middle on Wednesday, hauling in passes amidst a lot of traffic. In fact, Lawrence has looked like one of the top four overall receivers in practice the entire week. That is saying a lot when you have Rivals100 prospects Green, Julio Jones, Joshua Jarboe, Deion Walker, Chris Tolliver, Aldarius Johnson, Darryl Stonum and DeSean Hales all taking part in the game.

Harris shines…again

Miami Booker T. Washington's Brandon Harris continues to show why he is one of the top overall uncommitted prospects left in the country.

Though seemingly undersized, the 5-foot-10, 175 pound cornerback put on the best performance of any member of the Silver secondary for the third straight day.

Harris started off in the one-on-one against Green and Lawrence, two much taller receivers, yet he frustrated both players by blanketing them in coverage. With great lateral movement and a natural instinct for the ball, Harris made it tough for the quarterbacks to place the ball in a favorable spot for the receivers.

In seven-on-seven and full-team drills, all three Silver team passers did their best to avoid Harris. Though the cornerback did not record an interception on the day, he forced bad throws by refusing to give the receivers any cushion. He was also able to run step-for-step with the fastest wideouts on deep routes, taking away that option for the offense as well.

Harris and Red team corner Charles Whitlock have separated themselves from the rest of the defensive backs in the game with their pass coverage skills.

Who will help Bowers?

At defensive end, it is almost a given that Clemson commit Daquan Bowers will get pressure on the Red quarterback in Saturday's game. The question is whether or not the other ends will be able to match up with Tyler Love and Dann O'Neill, the two mammoth opposing offensive tackles.

Stanford commit Chase Thomas will be relied upon to man the other side but his lack of size could leave him overmatched in the game. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Thomas will have a hard time getting any kind of push on the bigger Red team offensive tackles.

He will have to rely on quickness to get around the tackles, but they have proven to be pretty effective this week in stopping the outside rush.

The other two players that will be rotating at end are natural tackles. Brandon Thompson and Texas A&M commit Rod Davis will be taking turns both inside and outside. It will be interesting to see if either will be able to get leverage on the two big tackles.

The 6-foot-2, 300 pound Davis and the 6-foot-2, 275 pound Thompson are used to going up against guards in high school. While both are exceptionally athletic for their size, they have never had to deal with opposing blockers the size of Love and O'Neill.

Getting a rush on the side opposite of Bowers will be key to the Silver team's chances of winning.

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