Wednesday will live in 2012 Shrine Game remeberence as the day in which the rain drowned the non-NFL scouts such as myself throughout, but to me, a few other non-scouting related happenings allow for some additional notes from the Wednesday practices and post-practices.
I talked with BJ Coleman of Chattanooga who had some very interesting things to say, saw a few mini fights and emotion on the field today, and see which teams were interested in whom after practices.
My Talk With Chattanooga Quarterback BJ Coleman
I got a chance to talk with BJ Coleman more today, something I had been really hoping to do this week based on all I heard about him, and he surely didn't disappoint.
He said that he had developed some really nice chemsitry with BJ Cunningham, AJ Jenkins, and Tim Benford so far, arguably the three top receivers here. He also mentioned that he and Benford knew each other a little in their high school days, so they have more in their connection than just both being from the small school ranks in Tennessee (Never played each other though.)
I asked a few early questions, how was practice, who looked good, what did coaches improve (he said his footwork, trying to be polished and have it be second nature), but I really wanted to get to my main question. Based on what I've seen, being reiterated by Rotoworld's Josh Norris, and so far in practice, Coleman handles the ball, throws the ball, acts on and off the field JUST like Peyton Manning. And having that Tennessee connection I wanted to see how much was to it.
Coleman told me that in his redshirt year, he asked for coaches to pull all the film they had on Manning at Tennessee, and for six months, he just studied every little thing about the All-Pro quarterback. It's uncanny how similar he is in technique and the nuances of the position to Manning, and with him being a film junkie (like Manning), and having the desire to improve himself, his work as being Peyton Manning part two (or maybe "plus one" being that he's number 19, Manning is 18) really has worked out.
Along with that, he told me that he's training in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Sound familiar? It's the legendary home of Brett Favre (and Ed Werner?). And it's not by coincidence. He told me he works with Favre from time to time, mostly on the mental aspects of the game.
So, having modeled his game on one future Hall of Famer (Manning) and mentally preparing with another (Favre), Coleman looks to at least be on the right track as we get closer to the NFL Draft.
Emotion, Rivalry, Trash Talking Starts at Shrine Game Practices
Part of football is the emotion on the field. It's enevitable: one minor cheap shot or past the whistle block or a physical play with scouts watching, emotion and trash talking comes out. And I'm fine with it. If you've ever heard anyone in the NFL mic'd up (except for Tim Tebow), it happens all the time, mostly between plays.
Now that these prospects are more comfortable with their teammates at their position and they're starting to feel some pressure that their time to showcase themselves is winding down, I'm starting to see a little more aggression and physicality after the play.
On Wednesday, receiver Kevin Hardy of Citadel ran a quick slant across the middle in drills. RJ Blanton of Notre Dame, being a more powerful player to begin with, closed early on the slant, deflected the pass, and drove Hardy to the ground. Then, after he had knocked Hardy down, he stepped over him, reminicint to Allen Iverson stepping over Tyrone Lue in the 76ers-Lakers early 2000s playoffs, looking down as he was doing it.
Hardy got up, some minor shoving, Blanton chattering the entire time. When the spat ended (fight-less), Blanton continued to talk, even to NFL scouts on the sidelines, talking about how Hardy "wanted to go through him" and he "couldn't let HIM do that".
Also, Tim Benford drove Hampton cornerback Micah Pellerin back with actually some impressive hand placement. Pellerin couldn't shake the block, and even after the whistle, Benford held the block. Pellerin spat back, some minor shoving, nothing major. But Pellerin screamed something of the nature of "I'll get you next time", the two had words. Again, nothing major, but it looks like real football, and these guys are showing some passion. Not to be weird, but I'm actually expecting a little scuffle Thursday of some sort. Again, it's not all bad, NFL teams don't want a soft guy in their locker room. But it sure is fun to watch and follow.
Team Interest Notes
Tennessee Titans - Kevin Koger (Michigan TE)
Kansas City Chiefs - Tim Benford (Tennessee Tech WR), Travian Robertson (South Carolina DT, for a while)
San Diego Chargers - Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina CB), Tim Benford (Tennessee Tech WR)
Baltimore Ravens - Lamar Holmes (Southern Miss OT), Christian Thompson (South Carolina St S)
Cleveland Browns - BJ Cunningham (Michigan State WR), Micah Pellerin (Hampton CB)
Carolina Panthers - Kyle Wilber (Vanderbilt DE), Justin Bethel (Presbyterian CB)
Jacksonville Jaguars - Travian Robertson (South Carolina DT), Julian Miller (West Virginia DE, for a while), Micah Pellerin (Hampton CB)
New York Giants - Jeff Adams (Columbia OT)
Indianapolis Colts - Evan Rodriguez (Temple TE)
Minnesota Vikings - Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina CB)
New Orleans Saints - Nick Sukay (Penn State S)