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December 31, 2008

Under Armour Analysis: Black team stars

MORE: White team | Black team | UA rosters | Army AA Bowl coverage | More all-star coverage

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every breaks down some of the top performers from Wednesday's Black squad practices at the Under Armour All-American Game.

Under Armour All-American Game Black Team Standouts: Wednesday
OG Thomas Ashcraft, 6-5/300, Cedar Hill (Tex.)
ASSETS: One of the overall biggest guards at this event.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Seems very bottom heavy and needs to work on his lateral quickness, especially in pass protection.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Was eager to take numerous reps during one-on-ones against the likes of Jacobbi McDaniel and Josh Downs.
CONCLUSION: I don't think there is any doubt that Ashcraft will be an interior lineman at Texas. He may need a redshirt year to help reshape his bottom heavy frame.
ATH Ray Ray Armstrong, 6-4/218, Sanford (Fla.) Seminole
ASSETS: Height, ball skills, and overall athleticism.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Honing in on one position at the next level. He is currently playing safety but his body screams OLB or WDE.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: One of the best looking prospects physically at this event, easily in the top two or three players.
CONCLUSION: Armstrong is a potential difference maker on the defensive side of the ball. He can cover a lot of ground and has some serious ball hawking skills. Look for him to play early in his career.
WR Jheranie Boyd, 6-2/184, Gastonia (N.C.) Ashbrook
ASSETS: Good height, speed, and body control.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to be more physical off the line of scrimmage in order to get off press man coverage.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Boyd had one of the nicest grabs of the day along the sidelines, shielding the defensive back with his body and dragging both feet in bounds.
CONCLUSION: Definitely one of the top wideouts in the country. Boyd needs to get a little stronger but should play as a freshman even if North Carolina has experience at that position already.
DT Josh Downs, 6-1/275, Bastrop (La.)
ASSETS: A tremendous first step and really understands pad level and leverage at the point of attack.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to continue to get stronger and add about 15 pounds of muscle mass. He also struggled a few times at staying onside.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Downs whipped Dallas Lee in one-on-ones using a cross face move to get into the backfield.
CONCLUSION: Most people are wondering whether he is an offensive lineman or a defensive lineman. Right now I would lean heavily towards the defensive side of the ball. He seems to be in great shape and is very athletic.
DE Melvin Fellows, 6-5/245, Garfield Heights (Ohio)
ASSETS: Great upper body structure, good height, and long arms.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: His legs really need to get bigger and stronger for him to battle offensive tackles and tight ends at the point of attack on running plays.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Looked really quick coming off the edge on more than one occasion.
CONCLUSION: Right now I have to say he is a weakside defensive end because his legs are similar in size to some of the thinner receivers. I can see a redshirt in store for him at Ohio State. If his lower body gets even remotely close to his upper body he could be a terror in the Big Ten.
DT Abry Jones, 6-3/273, Warner Robins (Ga.) Northside School
ASSETS: Great overall size and is extremely powerful.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to get quicker off the ball.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: His overall size is very impressive for a defensive tackle and he can get even bigger in the upper body.
CONCLUSION: Jones has the size to compete for playing time at Georgia as a freshman and he should add much needed help against the run.
OT Paden Kelley, 6-7/270, Austin (Tex.) Lake Travis
ASSETS: Excellent height and a nice lean body that can add another 25 pounds.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to continue to work on his first step in pass protection and on his flexibility which should help him become a more natural knee bender.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: He may not be the most athletic lineman but he is not afraid to get run over slowly, which is another way of effective pass protection.
CONCLUSION: Most likely a right tackle in college. I look for him to be a redshirt candidate as he continues to get bigger and stronger.
DT Jacobbi McDaniel, 6-0/267, Greenville (Fla.) Madison
ASSETS: Great overall body structure and strength.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Would like him to play every snap in a game as hard as he takes every rep in practice.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Even though he is known for power he demonstrated adept agility beating Thomas Ashcraft with a spin move during one-on-ones.
CONCLUSION: He has the potential to make an immediate impact for the Seminoles. Look for him to become one of Coach Odell Haggins favorite players on the interior defensive line.
QB Russell Shepard, 6-1/179, Houston Cypress Ridge
ASSETS: Exceptional if not superior athletic ability for a quarterback. He may be a cross between Michael Vick and Vince Young when plays break down.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Has really come a long way in his overall throwing mechanics. If he continues on this path he could be the next quarterback to lead LSU to the National Title.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: When the pocket collapsed he took off up the middle like a cruise missile darting and weaving towards the end zone.
CONCLUSION: Shepard could become near unstoppable in the spread offense especially if he can improve his arm strength on deep balls.

C Mason Walters, 6-6/290, Wolfforth (Tex.) Frenship
ASSETS: Has the height of an NFL left tackle and incredible flexibility in his hips and knees.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: If he is to see time as a left tackle he will need to work on stopping the outside rush. The more positions he can play across the line the longer his career will be after college.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: For someone so tall he has unbelievably low pad level at the point of attack.
CONCLUSION: Walters is definitely one of the top offensive line prospects in the country and in my opinion the best I have seen in person from Texas.
OG Peter White, 6-5/340, Washington (D.C.) St. John's College High
ASSETS: Tremendous size and girth for an interior lineman.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: He wants to be an offensive tackle but he is a bit top heavy, and his lateral movement must improve if that is to happen.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Struggled at offensive tackle but he did not pout or quit. He just kept on taking on challengers during one-on-ones.
CONCLUSION: His body type is perfect for a drive blocking interior offensive lineman at the next level. He would be a perfect fit for a school that still wants to play smash mouth football.



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