Senior Bowl Dish: Game on for Willis, Meriweather
Jan. 28, 2007 Print it
By War Room scouts
MOBILE, Ala. -- Saturday's game day finally arrived at the Senior Bowl, but it wasn't the prettiest sight with cold and rainy conditions in Ladd-Peebles Stadium, which was only half full for the prospects.
The North, led by Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (completed 5-of-15 passes in the bad weather for 52 yards and a TD) and Penn State running back Tony Hunt (named the game's MVP with 8 carries for 38 yards and a TD), was able to handle the elements much better in shutting out the South, 27-0.
Smith and Hunt got the headline attention in an ugly, lopsided affair, but there were several other players on both squads who stood out in the game to put the stamp on a long week of practice and playing. Here are eight players we put on the spot for the Senior Bowl game, and how they fared in their Mobile finale:
1. Patrick Willis, ILB, Ole Miss. Willis had a solid but unspectacular week in practice, but he raised his game several notches in the game and made plays all over the field. He showed an uncanny ability to find the ball quickly and then move toward it quickly. He also showed the range to make tackles from sideline-to-sideline -- something he didn't show in practice. Once Willis got moving, he had the speed to both make plays against the run and stay with backs and tight ends in tight man-to-man coverage. On the strength of his game-high 11 tackles, he earned South defensive player of the game honors.
2. Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami (Fla.) Meriweather proved himself worthy of high rating and first-round draft status. He read and then reacted well to skinny post routes coming at him by coming up quickly and making violent hits/tackles after balls arrived. He showed how athletic he is by covering a receiver very well in tight man-to-man in the red zone and forcing an incomplete pass. For a safety (6-0, 190) who lacks the ideal height and weight combination for the position, he also was willing to come up and make physical tackles in run support.
3. Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville. Okoye finished up an impressive week of practice with another strong performance in the game. He was consistently quick off the ball and showed his natural athleticism when chasing down plays. He showed he definitely has the quick feet and hands to consistently beat offensive linemen one-on-one. Okoye still is raw in some areas, but he is very talented overall with tremendous upside.
4. Levi Brown, T, Penn State. Brown continued what has been a frustrating week for both him and the scouts evaluating him. He showed he clearly had the athleticism, size (6-3 1/2, 315) and strength necessary to pass-protect against all the defensive ends who saw in Mobile. However, all too often Brown did not use his hands aggressively enough and allowed ends to dictate the pass rush and beat him. Texas end Tim Crowder did the most damage, beating Brown for a number of hits on the quarterback.
5. Aundrae Allison, WR, East Carolina. Although no receiver dominated the game in terms of catches and stats, Allison (2 catches for 22 yards) impressed exactly as he did all week. He ran sharp and precise routes and consistently got a bit of separation from defensive backs. He also showed the ability to twist and adjust when making a nice catch for one of the North's three touchdowns.
6. Jay Moore, DE, Nebraska. After struggling through a tough week of practice, Moore delivered a great game. He consistently pressured the quarterback from wherever he lined up, showing a good closing burst to finish sacks and delivering hard blows. He needed a good game after being outperformed by college teammate Adam Carriker during the week.
7. James Marten, T, Boston College. Marten was one of the week's most pleasant surprises and continued to impress with a great performance in the game. He was not dominant, but he did a good job of pass blocking against two top defensive linemen, Florida's Ray McDonald and Georgia's Quentin Moses. Marten excelled at getting out of his stance and sliding to the corner to cut off the initial edge rush, and then he could tie up his man to keep that man from pressuring the quarterback.
8. Thomas Clayton, RB, Kansas State. There were few running back stats to go around in the game after Hunt and Washington State wide receiver Jason Hill (who went 35 yards on a nice reverse), but despite turning 8 carries into only 17 yards for the North, Clayton showed some good quickness, agility, athleticism and elusiveness. Clayton was added to the North roster on Tuesday after Northern Illinois running back Garrett Wolfe (hamstring) was hurt on the first day of practice, and certainly took advantage of the extra chance to boost his stock.
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Sportings News : Senior Bowl Draft Dish
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