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Hawkins, receivers steal Senior Bowl spotlight


MOBILE, Ala. – There were plenty of football headliners packing the stands Wednesday to watch the last day of full-pad Senior Bowl practices. Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, LSU head coach Les Miles and USC head coach Pete Carroll all made the trip to Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

However, the spotlight shined brightest on California wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who racked up 872 receiving yards last season. Hawkins (5-11, 186) spent his college days playing in the shadow of Golden Bears star DeSean Jackson, but all eyes were on the senior as he came up with tough grabs over the middle and caught a deep pass for an easy touchdown in the North's morning workouts Wednesday.

{QUOTE}Hawkins blew past USC cornerback Terrell Thomas (6-0, 200) and Indiana cornerback Tracy Porter (5-11, 181) in one-on-one drills, which was considered quite impressive because both defensive backs had been showing solid man-to-man coverage.

Until Wednesday, Trojans defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis had been garnering most of the hype. Ellis continued to dominate the line and showed a non-stop motor, especially during individual drills. In fact, his interior work was reminiscent to last year's standout, Texans rookie defensive tackle Amobi Okoye.

Struggling today for the North, however, was Ellis' Trojans teammate, Lawrence Jackson. The defensive end did a better job getting off the line of scrimmage, but his pass rushing skills have not been as evident as they were at USC.

Another defensive end, Eastern Michigan's Jason Jones (6-5, 272), took reps at outside linebacker and did a good job of tackling in a new position.

The North offensive line did put up a fight. Arizona State center Mike Pollak (6-3, 293) put up stronger blocks and Boston College's Gosder Cherilus (6-7, 313) proved to be a force in pass protection.

North head coach Lane Kiffin was most impressed with the way his quarterbacks adjusted to the new offense. Michigan's Chad Henne (6-2, 225), who finished last year with 1,938 passing yards and 17 touchdowns, continued to connect on deep passes. Delaware's Joe Flacco (6-6, 237) looked virtually unstoppable in the red zone. His stock could shoot up the draft boards considering he rarely faced elite competition in college.

"I think our quarterbacks are really good," said Kiffin, who is head coach of the Oakland Raiders. "It's so hard to practice in these sorts of situations where your receivers and running backs are all going to run their routes a little bit different and have a little bit different timing. For our guys to perform as well as they have in practice has been great, and I expect them to play really well in the game."

During the South's afternoon session, all eyes were on the wideouts. There is a talented crop of senior receivers on the roster, but their play had been hampered by erratic play from quarterbacks Andre Woodson (Kentucky) and Colt Brennan (Hawaii).

On Wednesday, the quarterbacks looked like they had settled into 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system, delivering crisper passes.

Florida's Andre Caldwell (6-0, 203) emerged as the quarterbacks' favorite target. Caldwell came up with several long grabs up the sidelines, separating himself from man coverage. The senior recorded 872 receiving yards last year and has emerged as the best receiver in Mobile.

Houston's Donnie Avery (5-11, 183) shined during one-on-one drills, using his speed to get open. Meanwhile, Louisville's Harry Douglas (5-11, 169) made some tough grabs in traffic during seven-on-sevens.

The South defensive tackles improved as a unit. Maryland's Dre Moore (6-4, 306) clearly stood out, especially when he threw aside Texas A&M center Cody Wallace.

Aggie defensive tackle Red Bryant (6-5, 329) redeemed his alma mater, dominating rushing drills. Several scouts commented that Bryant had improved each day this week.

Bryant showed just how physical he can be when he got into a scuffle with Vanderbilt offensive tackle Chris Williams (6-6, 317). The players went after each other during individual drills and 49ers coaches had to calm them down.

Still, the seniors from both teams never dialed down their intensity, giving scouts their last hurrah before the majority of pro evaluators leave on Thursday.

"I'm very happy with my performance out here, playing with some of the elite corners and DBs," Caldwell said. "I'm just out here making plays, trying to solidify myself."

Noteworthy: Miami Linebacker Tavares Gooden left Mobile with a hip injury. Georgia Tech linebacker Gary Guyton replaced him.

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