Rivals Daily Dozen: Top players from Day 1 at Army Bowl
SAN ANTONIO - The first day of practice at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl wasn’t heavy on action but there was still opportunity for a number of players to make early impressions. The West team looked exceptional, with top offensive linemen and running backs showing off in one-on-ones and team drills.
Below is a list of 12 players that stood out from the talented pack.
The West quarterbacks weren’t particularly sharp throughout the afternoon but Manning consistently reeled in the passes that came to him on target. He doesn’t create a ton of separation with his speed, but explodes through his cuts and runs authoritatively. Manning looked the part of the most complete receiver for the West team.
On a day where most players only took three or four one-on-one reps, Lenoir made the most of his. His two best reps came in consecutive turns against Joseph Lewis, winning both and coming away with an interception. He is a little thicker than most seen at cornerback but has all the speed he needs to turn and run with receivers.
The East receiving corps is flush with slot receivers, and likely due to that the coaching staff used Matthews in a variety of other roles. He is a kid the East coaches definitely want to get the football in the hands of often on Saturday. The Florida State commit is so explosive and makes it look so effortless. He has a chance to do in the Army Bowl what Jeff Thomas did in the Under Armour game this past weekend.
Only once did Sarell overplay a rep in one-on-ones, otherwise he was very sound at left tackle. A steady rotation of defensive ends were shepherded away by Sarell, who did just as well pushing guys to the outside as he did blocking back down into the line. During inside run drills, he kept things moving forward and frequently looked for the next man get hands on.
Tufele was consistently the most disruptive defensive linemen of the afternoon for the West. He gets off the snap with great leverage and was active with his hands to shed blocks. Of the interior linemen, Tufele played with the most strength and physicality to win the majority of his battles both in one-on-ones and team scrimmages.
The trio of quarterbacks on the East squad, which also included Alabama commit Tua Tagovailoa and Clemson commit Hunter Johnson, had one of the best opening days of practice for a quarterback group in an all-star setting. The issues with timing and adjusting to the speed on the field tends to be a problem early at these events, but Fromm managed that well. The Georgia commit has a compact and quick delivery and was able to make all the throws on day one.
As the day went on, Martin hit his stride and was more and more productive. He found his greatest success on the day in 7-on-7 and team scrimmages as an underneath option working out of the slot, but he’s a sure-handed receiver and a fluid route-runner. Martin also does well to recognize where he can find space in the defense to get open.
Bolden impressed on Day 1 during team play and showed his range patrolling deep in the secondary. While the West quarterbacks didn’t have their best stuff on the afternoon, Bolden routinely found a way to meddle with receivers, keeping them from effectively adjusting to make catches on some of the more loose passes.
The East defensive line has a mix of big bull rushers and speedy edge rushers at the defensive end position and Slaton was able to handle all of them while manning the left tackle position. That is pretty impressive, especially being able to kick out and stop 235-pound speed rushers when he tips the scales at nearly 350 pounds. The other interesting side note here is that some schools are looking at Slaton for the defensive tackle position, including Florida, which is his current favorite.
Little may have been the most dominant lineman overall on the day. He’s a player in the mold of a strong left tackle but is comfortable working at right and was the best player to take reps at that spot all day. Little has earned a reputation as being adept at resetting his hands when countering pass-rushers, but he easily mirrors them with his feet and makes it near-impossible to find a route to the backfield.
Harris’ pass-catching wasn’t what caught the eye on the afternoon so much as his toughness running the ball. He’s powerfully built and was happy to drop a shoulder and bulldoze into whichever lane he picked out for himself in inside run work and team scrimmage. Harris showed off his quick feet and wasn’t tripped up searching out space to work through.
Young proved to be the East team’s most explosive edge rusher on day one. The Ohio State commit shows the athleticism and even the speed of a linebacker, but has the ability to put his hand in the dirt and rush the quarterback. Ohio State has featured bigger defensive ends like the Bosa brothers in recent years, but in Young they have a player who has the ability to give them more of a hybrid defensive end with the ability to rush the passer and play in space.
Where Harris turned heads in the more traditional sense as a running back, it was Carr’s early work catching passes on Day 1 that set him apart. Carr is a longer prospect but knows how to use that to his advantage to outreach defenders for the grab. With the West team looking to make the most of all its athleticism in the backfield, Carr is a guy that can be moved around most to make matchups more difficult.