Safeties steal the show on Day 2
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Here are the highlights from the second day of Under Armour practice at ESPN's Wide World of Sports.
Safeties controlling the secondary
Karlos Williams (Davenport, Fla./Ridge Community) has backed up his No. 1 ranking at the safety position. On Sunday he continued to show great range and athleticism for a guy with linebacker size. Not only is the future Seminole sound in coverage, he brings a physical element to his game and will come up and support the run or turn into an intimidating presence over the middle disrupting routes.
Ha'Sean Clinton Dix (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) is one of the more scheme-versatile defensive backs here. The Crimson Tide pledge has done a great job matching up with bigger tight ends and quicker slots and has also showed he can break and get over the top of routes when he's deployed as a deep safety.
We also love the way Jabari Gorman (Miramar, Fla./Pace) closes, gets downhill and wraps up as a tackler.
Red defensive line winning in the trenches
Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe), who once again put on a pass-rushing clinic with his initial quickness, is proving impossible to deal with. In addition to his quickness, he's shown the ability to beat players to the outside with his speed as well as counter inside, giving blockers a lot to worry about.
The surprise of the day along the defensive line was Greg Townsend Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif./Beverly Hills). We thought the Beverly Hills native may have struggled adjusting to the increased competition this week, but he has risen to it and made several great pass rush moves, one coming with a swim over five-star Longhorn commit Christian Westerman (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton). He also beat Andre Yruretagoyena (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral), who will be playing for Chip Kelly in Eugene, Ore.
On the inside, Texas pledge Desmond Jackson (Houston, Texas/Westfield) and Gabe Wright (Columbus, Ga./Carver) continued to be two of the better interior pass rushers. Their quickness off the ball, combined with their hand technique has lead to multiple wins in one-on-one battles. On film, Christian Heyward (Santee, Calif./Point Loma) displayed the ability to be a very productive interior pass-rusher and he's backed up that assessment during the first two days of practice. He's been great using his hands and consistently attacking half-a-man to get to the quarterback.
Interior offensive line looking strong
Offensive guard Mitch Smothers (Springdale, Ark./Springdale), who is staying in-state to play for the Hogs, was one of the more technically sound prospects coming into this week. His quick-set has been very good, he's done a good job bending at the knees, getting a good initial punch and really sitting down and being a stout presence as a pass blocker. Marcus Jackson (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach) and future Auburn Tiger Reese Dismukes (Spanish Fort, Ala./Spanish Fort) continued their strong play as well.
Quarterbacks getting comfortable
Gators signal caller of the future, Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, Fla/Hagerty), and Devon Blackmon (Fontana, Calif./Summit) are developing chemistry and timing. Overall, Driskel looked a lot more efficient on Day 2 and is getting comfortable with his weapons. USC commit Max Wittek (Newport Beach, Calif./Mater Dei) and Ohio State commit Braxton Miller (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne) each had strong days and should pose difficulties for the White team on Wednesday night as they each bring a different element to the position. Future Sooner Kendal Thompson (Oklahoma City, Okla./Southmoore) has also impressed us with his athleticism.
Cornering the market
Doran Grant (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) and Danzel Williams (Arlington, Texas/James Martin) stepped up their play on Sunday. Both corners played good press and aggressive coverage, but also showed the foot quickness to match up with some of the better route runners on the White team's roster. Grant, a future Buckeye, is one of the more instinctive corners here. He did a great job anticipating routes and was difficult for receivers to create separation on. Williams, who is headed to Oklahoma as an athlete, is also a talented running back but is proving our projection right this week that he'll likely be a corner in Norman, Okla.
Other top performers
• DT Antwaun Woods (Los Angeles, Calif./Woodland Hills-Taft) had another strong day and has been one of the more difficult one-techniques to block this week. He combines great power and leverage with an explosive first-step. Woods, a USC commit, just needs to be more consistent in his get-off and technique versus the run.
• We knew future Crimson Tide linebacker Trey DePriest (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) had good run-play recognition and vertical attacking skills, but this week he's shown the ability to open his hips and drop in coverage. He made one of the better plays on Day 2 for the Red team, anticipating and jumping an underneath route which he would have returned for six.
• Ryan Shazier (Pompano Beach, Fla./Plantation), a prolific pass-rushing end in high school, has shown the ability to adjust to the outside linebacker position. Shazier, who recently switched from Florida to Ohio State, is athletic, quick and has the instincts to turn and make plays in space.
• Robenson Therezie (Miami, Fla./Jackson), who still appears more comfortable at safety, has been taking reps at corner and is actually holding his own against some of the more talented wideouts in the country. He's physical when pressing and re-routing and has the speed to turn and run.
• Marqise Lee (Inglewood, Calif./Serra) is following up his big senior year with an impressive performance during practice. He's explosive closing on the football and has the ball and leaping skills to win the contested one-on-one matchups.
• LB Vinnie Sunseri (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Northridge), a Crimson Tide commit, has made interceptions on back-to-back days, one coming inside the endzone.
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