LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- On Day 3, some players have started to separate themselves from the pack but overall both teams look much shaper as game day draws near.
White team DBs could be UA's best group yet
Obviously Florida State safety commit Karlos Williams (Davenport, Fla./Ridge Community) is on a different level and has shown us how versatile he is this week, but Jabari Gorman (Miramar, Fla./Pace) has also shown the ability to run with receivers and shut them down with deceptive strength and physicality. Overall, it's a really feisty group, but also very fast and athletic. Keelin Smith (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Treasure Coast) has also answered questions about his coverage ability. We feel he's definitely going to be a safety at FSU, potentially a nickel. We don't quite see the fluid hips to play on an island, but he is quick to get downhill as he showed in punt coverage and should be a standout on special teams.
On the perimeter, future Buckeye Doran Grant (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) has been one of the most difficult cornerbacks to create separation on. He can stick with receivers tightly out of their breaks with his great burst and quickness, but on Day 3 showed he can jam and re-route, adding a different element to his game and answering questions. Prized Virginia commit Demetrious Nicholson (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) may be the best off-man cover corner in this group. He has great feet, can recover quickly and has an uncanny ability to read receivers and see routes develop. Danzel Williams (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), who will be lining up for coach Bob Stoops, does lack a bit of height but he's another guy that does not back down from this elite group of receivers and could grow into a nickel.
White team font seven dominates
Xzavier Dickson (Griffin, Ga./Griffin) has had the best pass-rushing performance, outside of Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe), so far this week. He may lack ideal measuables and body length, but he's a quick-twitched, explosive athlete with really good quickness in the short area and is polished with his hand technique, particularly with his quick swipe-and-rip.
On the inside, Antwaun Woods (Los Angeles, Calif./Woodland Hills-Taft) continues to pose problems for any center he's shaded on. He's such an explosive package with great lower-body power and burst. The USC commit just needs to become more consistent as an every-down player and against the run. Anthony Johnson (New Orleans, La./O. Perry Walker) didn't have his best day, but is still an unbelievable package of size, strength and quickness. The 300-pound LSU commit is athletic enough to play in a five-technique and close space down the line. Ohio State-bound Steve Miller (Canton, Ohio/McKinley) got stalemated a few times by improving Florida State-bound tackle Bobby Hart (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla../St. Thomas Aquinas), but is still a tough player to handle coming off the edge.
The White team linebacker group continues to really impress. Coming in, we knew they were a blue-collar type group with a ton of great production at the high school level, but what is really impressing us is how athletic and versatile this group is. It's hard to find any real weaknesses in Stephone Anthony's (Polkton, N.C./Anson) game. He can make plays from sideline-to-sideline, come up and stack the run, as well as open his hips, turn and run in coverage.
Westerman, Collins still ailing
Two of the top-ranked tackles in the country have yet to showcase that talent, mainly due to injury. LSU-bound La'El Collins (Baton Rouge, La./Redemptorist) returned to practice on Day 3 from a minor ankle sprain, and while he showed some athleticm getting outside on screens and outside runs, he struggled adjusting to the inside counter move. Meanwhile, Texas commit Christian Westerman (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) is not 100 percent from a stress fracture he suffered during his state championship run, but did make a statement and proved that he can fight back. He did an outstanding job of not being over-aggressive and looking for the big kill shot with his initial punch. Instead he was very good with his quick set, getting his hands inside, locking on, sitting down, controlling the rusher and pushing him past the pocket.
Bray is Mr. Versatility
With an injury to future Clemson Tiger Mike Bellamy (Nocatee, Fla./Charlotte), Quan Bray (LaGrange, Ga./Troup County) showed his four-star talent taking reps at running back and moving the chains. At this time, he's more of a perimeter runner and not as strong between the tackles, but he's got a game-breaker element to his play when he gets in space. At receiver, he's done well with the ball after the catch and is quick when he gets in space for corners to mirror in coverage. However, he is likely going to struggle early in his career versus press coverage. On Monday he had several inside releases impeded once corners got their hands on him.
Waisome and Diggs getting comfortable
Two of the top corners in the country are starting to show a comfort level with each other on the Red team. Quandre Diggs (Angleton, Texas), who we project would fill the valuable role of nickelback early in his career at Texas, is certainly living up to that billing. While on the shorter side, he is compact and well put together allowing him to collide inside routes of slots, as well as turn and run with H-backs or tight ends. He's quick to get downhill versus the run and likes to mix it up in the box. Nick Waisome (Mineola, Fla./Southlake) has been the outside corner in a lot of sets with Diggs and continues to show his great anticipation skills and instincts. They're both displaying their excellent awareness skills, passing off to each other and jumping routes.
• Amir Carlisle (Santa Clara, Calif./King's Academy) is starting to show he may end up playing more slot at Stanford than running back. He's a very natural athlete who is obviously a skilled running back but has been able to adapt to the slot and outside position at receiver and is a natural pass catcher.
• Bellamy went down with a head injury and his durability may be one area that he's been weak in. He has struggled to remain durable running between the tackles and accumulate consistent yards after contact.
• Giorgio Newberry (Fort Pierce, Fla./Central) may be the most versatile big man in this elite group. He is currently projected as an offensive tackle and has shown flashes and competitive spirit during one-on-ones, but he also took reps today at defensive end making a case that Florida State might be correct in their recruiting him at that position.
• Jarvis Landry (Convent, La./Lutcher) has started to elevate himself and really display his playmaking ability. The LSU commit has shown the ability to accelerate as a vertical threat and be physical to beat press coverage, and maybe most importantly, he's quickly plucked the ball out of the air away from his body with his soft hands.