SPARTANBURG, S.C.-Practice for the 69th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas began Monday on the campus of Dorman High. Under the watchful eye of dozens of college recruiters, several players had solid first days.
The teams practiced at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Here is a look at some of the top prospects and the impressions after both sessions of Day 1.
Durham offensive lineman Carl Johnson was the most impressive prospect on either team today. The Florida commit has a great chance to see the field next year in Gainesville because of his physical dominance and athleticism. One of the first blocks he made, he buried the opposing defensive lineman in the ground. A few plays later, he got outside on a sweep and ran down the field bowling opposing players over. He was so fast that he nearly outran his running back.
Johnson, a Rivals100 prospect, is solid to Florida and has been talking up the Gators to North Carolina teammate and UF target Brandon Spikes.
Speaking of Spikes, he absolutely blew up a ball carrier during team drills in the afternoon session. On film, he looks like a prospect that could perhaps play defensive end and it's reasonable that he could eventually find a home there. After seeing him in person, however, he looks more like a linebacker. It's possible that Spikes could end up being a guy like John Abraham of the New York Jets, a player defensive coordinators can stand up or play down.
On the recruiting front, Spikes is dead even between Alabama, Florida and Virginia Tech. He speaks equally about all three schools and he does not give any hints. When you talk with him, you don't get the feeling that any of the three teams has an advantage. Anything is possible here.
Wake Forest tight end commit Dennis Godfrey was very impressive from his defensive end position today. The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder was very good at backside pursuit and is faster than his timed 5.24-second 40-yard dash recorded at the Blacksburg NIKE camp in April. Given his frame and his ability to collapse the pocket, Godfrey could grow into a defensive tackle at the next level.
His performance today caused several college recruiters to take notice. It would not be shocking to see Godfrey pick up a few more scholarship offers if he continues his good work.
When you see him walking around, you realize that Hutch Eckerson has the frame of an NFL offensive tackle. In pads, he looks even better. Like most prospects he has a lot to work on to develop into a dominant offensive tackle, but the potential is definitely there.
Virginia Tech, N.C. State and South Carolina are in the mix for Eckerson. Virginia once held a lead here, but has work to do to get back in it after the departure of four Cavaliers assistant coaches.
University of North Carolina commit Michael Ingersoll showed great athleticism and actually was put in the slot on a number of occasions. He is a good route runner and though many think he ends up at tackle at UNC, he also could potentially become a big-time tight end.
Rockingham running back Norman Whitley got the bulk of the carries for North Carolina during the afternoon session. Though he does not have ideal size (5-8, 175), he runs tough and hard and has plenty of speed. Whitley proved tough to bring down.
Cary running back Josh Adams broke off a nice long run during the morning session.
Ingersoll is another prospect that caught the eye of the pundits and coaches scouting Monday's practice.
Wide receiver Josh Johnson of Avery County showed good toughness and route running ability. He also showed a toughness that means there is a chance he could play defensive back at the next level if things don't work out at receiver. The 6-foot-2, 196-pounder is down to Vanderbilt and James Madison.
Rivals100 defensive end Ricky Sapp played a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position and displayed tremendous quickness and speed. He plays well in space, can turn in a flash and will be perfect for the "bandit" linebacker position he is expected to play next season at Clemson.
Another Rivals100 prospect, defensive lineman Adam Patterson, has a very quick first step that allowed him to get penetration. The 6-foot-3, 256-pounder is good at beating the opposing offensive lineman off the ball. He did a great job of penetrating during the afternoon session when the South Carolina offense went against the defense.
Winnsboro Fairfield Central linebacker Sedric Griffin had a good first day. Though a bit short (5 feet 10), Griffin is 220 pounds and ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the Athens NIKE camp in May. Griffin was active during the afternoon session, getting to the football and making tackles.
Griffin could emerge as a sleeper if he continues his solid play.
His teammate, Clemson Rivals250 safety commit Darius Gaither played cornerback during the morning session. Though he won't play there in college, Gaither held his own in press man coverage, a strength that is sure to come in handy at the next level.
Vanderbilt commits Steven Goulet, D.J. Moore and Matt Quinn all saw plenty of action at wide receiver for the South Carolina squad. Moore, who projects as a cornerback, is very fast while Goulet and Quinn both are heady, tough receivers who run good routes. Those three, along with South Carolina commit Moe Brown are the starting four wide receivers for the Sandlapper squad as of Monday.
Both teams will continue practice at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Stay tuned to Rivals.com for complete Shrine Bowl coverage.