The directions of east and west are literally polar opposites, and that’s what it felt like out at both of the Shrine Game practices on Wednesday. In the morning session for the East team, the weather was sunny and even a bit hot, at times, but, by the time the West practice kicked off, the beginning of a cold front had moved in and it was about 20 degrees cooler with wind chill to boot.
There were a few prospects who were banged up and were not participating in the practices. Florida State linebacker Matthew Thomas, West Virginia offensive guards Kyle Bosch and Fordham running back Chase Edmonds weren’t able to go, but their injuries didn’t appear serious.
Of the prospects who were out on the field, these were the ones that caught our eyes on Wednesday.
Avonte Maddox, CB, Pitt
Bucs fans will roll their eyes at a cornerback who is 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, but Maddox from Pitt really stood out today.
Maddox has quietly had a good week and is now running as the outside cornerback with the first team for the East. He’s a hand fighter who gets into his receivers in press coverage. He isn’t overly athletic, and that’s why he needs to be somewhat physical, but he is quick and explosive in his shorter area movements and can usually stick with his guys pretty well. In the clip above, he did that well enough for a PSU and a forced INT.
Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
Fountain was thought to be just a speedster coming into the week, but he’s quickly showing those in attendance that he can be more.
On Tuesday, we saw the offense open up for him to get the ball in his hands quickly. But, on Wednesday, they designed plays more for what would be a WR1, fade routes, post routes, sideline catches, etc.
Fountain seems to not only be the most athletic wide receiver on the East team, but also the best all around wide receiver, as well.
Chris Worley, LB, Ohio State
Chris Worley is plain and simple one of the best prospects at the Shrine practices for either team.
His veteran awareness in the middle is evident, as he’s the one making the calls and adjustments for the defense, and he’s also the one encouraging and directing other players, too. He was great in run support and in coverage on Wednesday, and even though they wont be targeting a linebacker in the early rounds, the Bucs, specifically their linebacker coach Mark Duffner, took notice – as shown below.
Justin Lawler, DE, SMU
Justin Lawler is a player who has been a steady contributor along the West roster’s defensive line.
He’s a constant force on the edge, and is good on strength moves, controlling and ripping off the West offensive tackles (though that isn’t too hard, as we’re seeing). Lawler is a part of a defensive unit that is playing well above their counterparts. He’s not a speed guy, but he is an edge guy. One to keep an eye on.
Jordan Thomas, WR, Mississippi State
JordanThomas is an intriguing prospect. At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he has the body frame of a tight end, but he’s listed at a wide receiver. Teams have asked him about making the switch to tight end, and he says he’d do whatever he needed to do, but I think he’d prefer to not get beat up on the line.
Regardless, the play above highlights what a weapon he could be in the red zone, either at wide receiver or tight end.
Joshua Kalu, CB, Nebraska
Josh Kalu had the first interception of the week on Monday, and though he was quiet for Tuesday’s practice, he was another standout player on Wednesday.
Kalu was defending deep passes, getting physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage and was even getting in on some tackles in run support. He has a bit of an odd body frame and isn’t the most athletic cornerback out there, but he’s confident in what he does and and like to chirp a little bit at the offense, too. Those are good traits to have.