As I mentioned in my Shrine Game preview, I’ve seen just about every throw of J.T. Barrett’s college career, so nothing I have seen from him in two days this week has surprised me. What has surprised me, is that Barrett has pretty clearly been the best performer at quarterback so far. On the same team, Riley Ferguson has been scattershot, and Quinton Flowers has been asked to field punts, and none of the West quarterbacks has challenged Barrett either. J.T. has been sharp on the short-to-intermediate passes, he’s used his mobility to find passing lanes rather than running, and he even delivered a strike deep down the right sideline that drew praise from media and scouts. Barrett is taking advantage of the situation. On the deep ball, he would have been drilled by N.C. State’s Kentavius Street, but contact with the QB is not allowed so Barrett was able to stand tall. In other instances, he’s has been able to hold the ball and wait for his receivers to get open, rather than having to anticipate, but regardless, he’s nailing the throws. I thought he might struggle in this environment, but Barrett has loads of experience, and has faced plenty of pressure-filled moments as Ohio State’s starter, so perhaps that’s why he seems unfazed by all of this. Other QBs may be dealing with jitters, but Barrett isn’t, and I’d be surprised if he’s not the East team’s starter on Saturday.
Unfortunately, a number of East players got dinged by injuries Tuesday, and were limited or forced out of action altogether. Syracuse tackle Jamar McGloster left practice in an ambulance after walking off with what I can only guess was a pectoral or collarbone injury. He left the field on his own power, but with his right arm hanging motionless at his side.
Fordham running back Chase Edmonds got stepped on during one drill and limped off with a foot or ankle ailment. He walked back out later, but never rejoined practice. West Virginia O-lineman Kyle Bosch also left practice without returning, and Florida State linebacker Matthew Thomas came up with a slight hitch after a blitz drill. He stayed on the field and continued to participate, but repeatedly his knee or hamstring, and was limited the rest of the morning.
Best of the FCS
On Tuesday, a number of FCS stars shone throughout the day. On the East team, Northern Iowa receiver Daurice Fountain looked strong and athletic, and picked up big yards after the catch. East wideout Justin Watson of Penn rebounded from a ho-hum Day One and was on the receiving end of a Barrett deep ball between two defensive backs. West cornerback Davonte Harris was physical in coverage, and came up with a tip drill interception. His West teammates, South Dakota State receiver Jake Wieneke, and Delaware defensive lineman Bilal Nichols, both flashed in positional and team drills as well. These FCS players all possess legitimate NFL size, and were above average college producers. A strong all-star week is another box to check in their evaluations, and key for players making the jump from the small school ranks.
- Louisiana Tech DB Secdrick Cooper changed out of his MacGuyver’d number “3” jersey to a conventional number “5” on Tuesday. He played with confidence, breaking up a pass and tipping it to Harris for a pick.
- The smallish guard/center prospects looked strong, and anchored well in the one-on-one OL/DL drills. Michigan State’s Brian Allen was the only player I saw who got Street onto the ground. Street’s East and N.C. State teammate Tony Adams also looked powerful as a run blocker on Tuesday. On the West, Hawaii’s Dejon Allen is nasty and always “looking for work,” helping his teammates with devastating peel-back blocks in pass protection each of the last two days.
- Missouri defensive end Marcell Frazier looks to continue the school’s recent tradition of supplying NFL pass rushers. He and Arkansas State’s Javon Rolland-Jones provides heat consistently on Day Two of practice, and each would’ve had a couple of clear sacks had contact with the quarterback been allowed.
- As promised yesterday, a link to Monday’s weigh-in results.
- I headed back home to Chicago on Tuesday night, but follow these guys on twitter for the rest of the week if you’re jonesing for more Shrine Game practice coverage: