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SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell has been in South Carolina all week checking out the North Carolina and South Carolina squads in practice as they prepare for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on Saturday.
Farrell breaks down the top 10 players who have been impressive in preparation for the event. With the nation's No. 1 prospect Jadeveon Clowney sitting out practice for most of the week thanks to an ankle injury, the top spot was up for grabs and eventually taken by the ever-active and always vocal leader of the North Carolina squad, linebacker Kris Frost.
Top 10 Shrine Bowl players
1) Kris Frost, ATH, North Carolina
Frost is super-athletic and it became clearer than ever this week that his future is at linebacker at the next level despite his interest in playing wide receiver. He is so quick off the edge, is a ball of energy with great enthusiasm and hustle and he has the speed to run things down from the backside. In his drops, he gets good depth, reads the play well and he has good ball skills and instincts. Frost needs to fill out his frame and get stronger, especially in his lower body, but as a blitzing outside linebacker he fits the mold of a disrupter at the next level. He also has the potential to cover tight ends and slot receivers in certain packages because of his athleticism and he is a natural leader and the kind of player that brings a contagious enthusiasm to the field.
2) Brandon Shell, OL, South Carolina
The best-looking and most physically gifted offensive lineman on either team, Shell has a chance to be special. He's technically sound and plays with good pad level despite a somewhat high stance at times and his ability to reach the second level is impressive. His ability in pass protection was surprising since he comes from a run-oriented offense and his balance and ability to slide his feet while engaged with his opponent all looked very natural. Shell played right tackle all week but he has the potential to be a left tackle, and a special one at that. This isn't just bloodlines (uncle is NFL Hall of Famer Art Shell), this is a hard worker and student of the game.
Despite fighting through an injury in the early practice sessions, Brown was arguably the most athletic defensive lineman in practice all week with Jadeveon ClowneyClick 3) Devonte Brown, DT, North CarolinaHere to view this Link.'s limited practice time. Brown could be a big end in a 3-4 or a tackle in a 4-3 and he gets out of his stance and off the ball very quickly. Adept at using his hands to keep himself clean, Brown also mixes up his pass-rushing moves and makes offensive linemen guess at whether he'll bull rush them, try to beat them outside or misdirect and cross over. He's also much more physical than expected and has a better motor than his reputation suggested.
It's uncanny how much Jeffery looks like his older brother, South Carolina star Alshon JefferyClick 4) Shamier Jeffery, WR, South CarolinaHere to view this Link., save for two inches. He has the same wide hips and thick lower body as well as the same loping gait and sneaky speed. He has the ability to lull defenders to sleep or make them think he's running at full speed only to turn on an extra gear and run past them. It was surprising to see him as the best deep threat for the South Carolina team and he proved he's more than a converted quarterback who is destined to simply be a possession receiver. Jeffery was one of the better surprises of the week and he has soft hands and always catches the ball in front of his body.
5) Stephone Anthony, LB, North Carolina
Anthony is a versatile linebacker who could play outside or inside and fill the lane as a run stuffer as well as cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. He has long arms and uses them to cover a lot of ground and he is excellent sideline-to-sideline. Anthony takes on contact well, keeps his feet in traffic and is very sudden when he closes. He'll be a big hitter at the next level that can also come on the blitz and he should be a stat stuffer with his instincts and ability to get to the ball. Anthony will cause his share of turnovers and big plays in college.
6) Lateek Townsend, LB, South Carolina
When it comes to football sense and the ability to read and react, Townsend is lacking and needs to slow himself down. However, you can't teach his combination of speed and aggression and his willingness not only to drill opposing ball carriers but also his hustle in running plays down. Townsend has quick-twitch ability, lays the lumber when he hits and shows good tackling form when he's under control. He's the kind of player who would tackle all 11 players on the other team until he finds the ball and he certainly needs some coaching, but right now he's a terrifying blitzing linebacker at the least.
7) Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina
Williams was the most consistent of the quarterbacks throughout the week despite the rough conditions. His ball consistently sliced through the air and he was able to get some juice on the ball even when throwing into the wind. What was most impressive overall was his long ball, which was delivered in a tight spiral and with accuracy throughout the week. He is good at leading receivers, especially on downfield throws and he has a strong pocket presence. He has also corrected many of his mechanical issues and his release point is higher than it was as recently as this past spring. Williams is also mobile for a big quarterback and strong enough to bounce off tacklers as well as stand strong in the pocket and throw the ball in the face of oncoming pressure and punishment. He oozes confidence, sees the field well and is patient enough to go through progressions without panicking.
8) Ben Councell, LB, North Carolina
Councell is skinny on the hoof, but he is sneaky fast, very smart and so smooth in his drops you'd think he was born to cover backs in the flat. He anticipates the play very well, doesn't overcommit and he is physical upon arrival to the football. He has good ball skills and gets the proper depth in coverage making him a threat to pick off passes in college. Perfect as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, he could also be a situational pass rusher in a 4-3 defense because he loves to come off the edge. Once he adds some weight and much needed upper and lower body strength, he will be a solid and steady linebacker at the next level who can also get after the quarterback.
9) Phillip Dukes, DT, South Carolina
Dukes has good size and is built like a brick with even proportion between his upper and lower body which allows him to remain balanced and hard to knock off his feet. He plays with natural leverage and always seems to get lower than his opponent and shock them backwards. He also uses his hands well to keep opponents off him until he sheds and explodes to the ball. Despite his ability in traffic he can also run plays down the line of scrimmage and is a hustler who can get back into the play even when he overcommits or is sealed off. He's very good at jolting offensive linemen with his powerful hands and knocking them off balance but he also has sneaky speed to split double teams. Dukes showed toughness all week fighting through an initial ankle injury and a re-aggravation of the same issue.
10) Charone Peake, WR, South Carolina
Peake has a long, lean frame that looks lighter than his listed 200 pounds but he is very strong and can be physical. However, what separates him from the rest is his ability to go up and get the football and make plays in traffic. He looks like he could still easily add weight while maintaining his speed and quickness and he is a solid route runner who sets up defensive backs nicely. He is also a yards-after-catch guy who isn't easy to corral after the catch and is a certain red zone threat. His ability to snatch the ball out of the air, get upfield quickly and use his size will lead to many big plays in college.