July 21, 2008

The trenches take stage at LSU camp

BATON ROUGE, La. - LSU has built quite a tradition on the defensive line over the past few years. With Baton Rouge big bodies consistently populating the first day of the NFL draft, it was only fitting that the LSU prospect camp on Monday was talent-heavy at the defensive line position. However, the offensive line was not to be outdone. The battles in the trenches took center stage on the LSU practice fields during a star-studded camp.

During offensive line and defensive line one-on-one periods, the first team of defensive linemen and the first team of offensive linemen were both loaded with talent, setting up premiere matchups on every rep. Most of the day, the matchups went as follows:

DE, Randall Dent, Grand Prairie (Texas) South Grand Prairie
OT, Jordan Mills, Napoleonville (La.) Assumption

Mills made a big impression at the Baton Rouge Nike Camp and again was impressive at the same site. He has a great upside because of his long arms, big frame and good feet. His body has as much potential as any lineman at the event.

Dent has a big body, and looks like he has potential to line up on the interior. On the hoof, he doesn't look like he would be able to move as well as he does but once he fires out of his three-point stance, he is very tough to contain.

Advantage: Dent and Mills went back and forth all day, sometimes Dent would get the best of Mills and then sometimes the big tackle would really put on a show with his balance and feet. The slight nod would probably go to Dent but Mills had a very strong showing as well.

DT, Deon Simon, Baton Rouge (La.) Glen Oaks
OG, Rupert Bryan, Belle Glades (Fla.) Glades Central

Back at the Nike Camp, Simon was named the defensive lineman MVP among a strong group of defenders. Simon again showed the same kind of ability. He looks like he is moving towards the defensive interior but he still has the ability to play strongside defensive end.

Bryan is undersized at only 6-foot-1, 250 but he is very technically sound and makes the most out of what he has. He was a star at the Miami Nike Camp and again did a good job with some bigger bodies.

Advantage: Simon had the edge in this matchup because of his size and strength. The two had some good battles but Simon's size at 6-4, 280 was too much for Bryan to handle on several occasions.

DT, Josh Downs, Bastrop, La.
OC, Henry Orelus, Belle Glades (Fla.) Glades Central

This was the battle of the LSU commits. Downs doesn't have great height, but he is pretty great everywhere else. He is extremely active with his hands and plays with a very high intensity level all the time. With Downs, you know you are going to get a great effort on every snap.

Orelus had a very good afternoon trying to control his fellow future Tiger. He really showed some nice feet and he rarely overextended himself.

Advantage: In a matchup that may be replayed for years to come on the LSU practice fields, Orelus would probably take the slight edge in the first session. Both were impressive, but Orelus did an admirable job of slowing down the energizer bunny that is Josh Downs.

SDE, DeQuinta Jones, Bastrop, La.
OT, Chris Faulk, Slidell (La.) Northshore

Though Jones played primarily defensive end for his Bastrop high school last year, he lined up at defensive tackle in Baton Rouge and that may be where he projects best. The three-star has bulked up and showed great strength, and an arsenal of pass rush moves. He could be a dangerous penetrating defensive tackle at the next level.

On the day, there may not have been better overall performance than that of Faulk. He has a terrific frame and has great strength and balance. He has that ability to keep his weight back and still have the strength to deal with a defensive rush and he also showed some nimble feet that don't always come out on film.

Advantage: In maybe the best overall matchup of the day, Faulk gets the edge. Jones brings a load when he rushes the passer and Faulk was able to sit back and use his strong base to keep Jones at bay much of the afternoon.

SDE, Michael Brockers, Houston (Texas) Chavez
OT, Xavier Su'a Filo, Provo (Utah) Timpview

As expected, Brockers looks great on the hoof. He has a long, muscular frame and has a tough rip move to contain off the edge. Because of his ability to move with a frame that could probably continue to add good weight, he has tremendous upside.

Athletically, Su'a Filo was the best lineman in attendance. You never catch him off balance, and he is always technically sound. He had great consistency all day and looks the part of an athletic offensive tackle.

Advantage: Su'a Filo found a way to keep Brockers at bay most of the day despite his great first step and strength. Even if Brockers got a jump on Su'a Filo, the Utah native would stay after his block and work back into position. This matchup proved to be very exciting but the edge would have to go to the four-star from Utah.

Defensive line notes: Five-star defensive tackle Chris Davenport was in attendance but had very limited participation in the drills. After the warm-ups, Davenport spent most of the afternoon on the sidelines…2011 prospect Anthony Johnson from New Orleans (La.) O.P. Walker continues to impress at every setting he attends. Playing defensive end, Johnson once again made his presence felt…Little was known about defensive end Bennie Logan before today's camp but the talented defender had a strong showing all day long.

Secondary Standouts

  • It is easy to see why Atlanta (Ga.) Carver cornerback Branden Smith has created such a buzz this offseason. The 100-meter burner is every bit of 5-foot-11 and is extremely fast out of his breaks. He is showing on a daily basis why he should be considered one of the top cornerbacks in the nation.

  • Shreveport (La.) Evangel cornerback Trey Wilson had a very good day on Monday. Almost nobody could catch a pass on him. He always maintains a good relationship between the ball and the receiver and showed great recovery skills all afternoon.

  • A couple 2010 prospects were drawing praise in the secondary. Lufkin, Texas defensive back Carrington Byndom had a good showing just a week after putting up a great effort at the Texas State 7 on 7 tournament. Also, Belle Glades (Fla.) Glades Central prospect Travis Bell showed a lot of promise as a corner or a safety.

    Who was that?

    Beaumont (Texas) Ozen wide receiver Willie Jefferson is hard to miss. At 6-foot-7, Jefferson has a great body structure and moves extremely well for a player of his size. He could grow into a tight end where he would be a major mismatch and a big red zone threat. Look for his recruitment to really pick up during his senior season.


  • LSU commit Michael Ford doesn't look like he has an ounce of fat on him. He showed a good burst and though he sat out much of the afternoon session he definitely proved to be one of the top backs in attendance in the morning.

  • Will Adams of Grand Prairie (Texas) South Grand Prairie continues to blow up the camp circuit. Adams' film doesn't do him justice because his best asset is his route-running. Adams can toy with defensive backs and showed the same kind of ability that made him one of the top receivers at the Fort Worth Nike Camp earlier this year.

  • The top quarterbacks in attendance were Neville High School's Taylor Burch. Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab's Barrett Bailey and Houston (Texas) Second Baptist's Conner Wood, a 2010 standout. Though none of the top quarterbacks really separated themselves, all three showed some good promise.

  • There were a couple of Georgia standouts on hand that did not take part in drills. Darren Myles, a Rivals100 safety out of Atlanta (Ga.) Carver was on hand with his father. Rivals100 linebacker Jarvis Jones was also around all day taking in the action. Along with Branden Smith, the top three players in the state of Georgia were all in attendance.

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