CANTON, Ohio -- Day three of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Academy was very competitive and players seemed much more focused and intense. Some new players emerged after showing improvement from one practice to the next and others continued to dominate the competition.
I WAS IMPRESSED WITH ...
Five-star Tyreke Johnson and 2018 Rivals100 prospect Asante Samuel went at it again on Tuesday but Samuel seemed barely edge out Johnson in one-on-ones. As a cornerback, Samuel broke up some passes in impressive fashion and had near perfect technique defending deep passes. Johnson didn’t have a bad day but Samuel just seemed to shine a little more.
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Defensive tackle PJ Mustipher has been imposing his will all week. The 2018 Rivals100 prospect is in great shape and has been showing off more and more of his arsenal of hand techniques. Offensive linemen barely have a chance to get their hands on him before Mustipher was already around them and on his way to the quarterback.
Four-star defensive back Kalon Gervin had a very good day and was singled out as an example by the coaches for his footwork in drills. He was very physical with the wide receivers he faced in one-on-ones and it really gave them problems. The quarterbacks had a tough time keeping their timing with the wide receivers and Gervin’s explosiveness off his plant foot helped him keep the receivers from creating separation.
I WAS SURPRISED BY ...
Even though he will play defensive end in college, 2018 Rivals100 prospect Xavier Thomas was practicing with the defensive backs on Tuesday. He joined 2018 Rivals100 Penn State defensive end commit Micah Parsons playing out of position but both had a lot of success. Watching them go against each other during the one-on-one session was fun for everybody in attendance. Their athleticism and ball skills are outstanding for players for their size.
Anther defensive lineman playing out of position was 2018 Rivals100 prospect K.J. Henry. He played as a tight end and even threw some passes. There is a decent chance Henry could seem some time as a tight end in college. His height, wingspan, good hands, and leaping ability makes him a tough matchup for any defender. Henry did take some reps during linemen one-on-ones and wasn’t challenged by the competition.
The linebacker group doesn’t feature many highly coveted prospects but 2018 Rivals100 prospect Merlin Robertson had a very good day Tuesday. He moved very well in the open field despite being one of the bigger players out there. The way Robertson was able to close on running backs while the ball was in the air made it tough for quarterbacks to complete many passes against him.
Running backs Lorenzo Lingard and Ricky Person have drawn a lot of praise from the coaches for their work ethic, attention to detail, and leadership. The 2018 Rivals100 prospects have been virtually unstoppable during one-on-ones despite challenge themselves by running new routes and adjusting to passes that miss their mark.
The large majority of the quarterback play hasn’t been pretty but two underclassmen was some natural abilities and could see some recruiting interest in the coming months. Braeden Zenelovic is a 2018 prospect from Ontario Center (N.Y.) Wayne and Adam Cecere graduates in 2019 from Sidman (Pa.) Forest Hills. Both have strong arms, pretty good throwing mechanics, and have gotten more accurate as the week has progressed.