The third day of the Senior Bowl is NOT for the faint of heart. The first two days can certainly take it out of you. I say that as a guy who fell asleep within 30 seconds of sending his final writing assignment on Wednesday night...with his computer in his lap. Getting hyped for day three can be a bit of a chore for most. But yours truly finds a way, for sure. As such, let's dive into my Harris Hits from the last day of practice in Mobile.
- I've tried to highlight a definitive winner in my first Hit each day. On Thursday, that was the Brown family: Illinois S Sydney and Illinois RB Chase Brown. The ball-carrying Brown sliced and diced his way in the red zone 9-on-7 for a pair of touchdowns. He's been solid all week, punctuating his outstanding senior season with a strong showing in Mobile. His brother has impressed more and more each day, culminating with a tremendously impressive performance at safety. His man-to-man coverage was on point and he strapped inside receivers and tight ends alike. He's just 5-10, but he is a rock solid 213 pounds and plays like an old school strong safety with new school cover skills. Sydney may not hit a number of teams height/size thresholds, but those teams will miss out on a versatile, tough and intelligent playmaking safety. Sydney Brown was the unquestioned big winner on Thursday.
- On the first day of practice, Michigan OC Olu Olawutimi really didn't look like the center that I studied at Michigan in 2022. He's not the best athlete in the world and doesn't move like last year's stud center Tyler Linderbaum, but he's not a complete stiff, clutching-and-grabbing interior offensive lineman. On Thursday, Olu was seemingly back to his usual ways. He anchored much better against speed-to-power. He handled counter moves and ultimately finished plays with the requisite football violence. That's the Oluwatimi that had me thinking of a comp - Broncos OC Lloyd Cushenberry. Olawutimi had two brilliant pass rush reps against Wisconsin DT Keanu Benton. The Wisconsin star tried to snatch the opposite shoulder of Oluwatimi and swim over the top, but Olu wouldn't budge. No center defeated Benton using that move during the week, but Olu did a couple of times.
- Stanford WR Elijah Higgins spent part of the day at TE. He weighed in at 6-2 ⅝, 228 pounds, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that a handful of teams will attempt to move him to F-TE. He didn't look out of place while working with the tight ends. When he went back to run routes, though, whether at receiver or TE, he ran those routes with more assertiveness and more sense of urgency. He's incredibly intriguing for his size and versatility.
- Another tight end who had another strong day was Purdue's Payne Durham. At 258 pounds., Durham is a true Y-TE and he will mash at the line of scrimmage. But he's athletic enough to "Moss" safeties in the end zone as he did a couple of times during 1-on-1's and team drills down in the end zone. Man, I'm telling you this class is LOADED with tight end options. I think I'm going to end up with at least eight, including Durham, in my Harris 100.
- I mentioned Northwestern's Ade Adebawore yesterday and, you know what, I could've made him the ultimate winner of day three because he was brilliant. He had two pass rush one-on-one reps back-to-back against Notre Dame interior offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson that were purely awesome. Poor Patterson. He was no match for the keg of dynamite in the purple helmet. Adebawore ran right through him to the QB, using Patterson as a shield.
On the second rep, he walked Patterson backwards all the way to the spot where the OL were standing. It was the most impressive thing I saw in three days. Adebawore gives up 20 pounds to Patterson but that's what leverage does. Adebawore had Patterson so mad that the Irish OL started to shove back as Adebawore ran back to the defensive line following the whistle. I always chuckle in those instances because football allows as much violence as one can impose on another man between the whistles. If you get worked, that's on you. Adebawore won that rep with insane leverage and strength and embarrassed his foe. Now, I'm not totally sure where to play him on a down in/down out basis at the next level, but over the last two days, no defensive lineman was as dynamic as the Northwestern star.
- Nebraska WR Trey Palmer shares the same last name as Chargers WR Joshua Palmer and they might as well be twins. It hit me today watching Trey that he has similar size, similar dimensions and a similar overall game. Palmer made a pair of outstanding catches during 1-on-1's. He ran a wonderfully brilliant pylon out route at the goal line, making a catch against Iowa CB Riley Moss. After Palmer made the catch, he made sure to tell Moss all about it.
- It was EXTREMELY CHIPPY on day three, much like it is on day three of joint practices in NFL training camp. The fights ALWAYS start on day three early and get much more violent later. Luckily, it didn't get out of hand but there was enough chatty, chippiness going on at all positions.
- Cincinnati WR Tre Tucker has better change of direction than anyone in Mobile. Michigan State's Jayden Reed and Houston's Tank Dell might argue, but Tucker is at a different level. During 1-on-1's, he ran a stutter-and-go for a touchdown that left a DB in the dust. At 5-8, 187 pounds, he's bound for a life in the slot, but his ability to get separation makes him an immediate weapon for an NFL offense.
- I mentioned Cal S Daniel Scott yesterday and he had another productive day, coming up with at least one interception and a pass breakup. I say "at least" because I didn't see every rep. Regardless, he has been excellent in coverage throughout the week. He was matched up with Clemson TE Davis Allen on a fade route and knocked away the pass at the back of the end zone. He's a day three prospect who could move up boards after his week in Mobile.
- Chattanooga OL McClendon Curtis played both guard and tackle throughout the week and at 331 pounds, he can pack a punch. I certainly didn't hate seeing him at offensive tackle on day three at all.
- I wrote down in my notebook "(Maryland CB Jakorian) Bennett on clamps today." I can decipher. Bennett was covering everyone extremely well. He's a bit too physical at the top of the route and did get a few DPI/holding flags during the week, but he's a competitive nickel candidate at the next level.
- Michigan State WR Jayden Reed made a wonderful 1-handed catch during 1-on-1's. If he's making THOSE type catches, with his quicks/speed/acceleration, he's going to hear his name no later than day two.
- I haven't mentioned Charlotte WR Grant Dubose yet but he's been effective throughout the week. He's the perfect size at 6-2 ⅜ and 204 pounds. and has excellent body control and strong hands. He's sudden on his cuts, but he makes it look extremely easy. During 1-on-1's, he ran a perfect fade route for a TD.
- Arizona State DT Nesta Silvera used a bull/snatch move on South Carolina OG Jovaughn Gwyn that had the defensive linemen hollering. It was Gwyn's first day after a strong performance in LA at the NFLPA Game. But Gwyn didn't face a guy there as compact and strong as Silvera.
- Maryland OT Jaelyn Duncan and Georgia Tech DE Keion White matched up throughout the week and the two reps on Thursday were symbolic of the previous few days. Duncan shut White down on the first rep, but White bull-rushed Duncan back into the QB on the next rep. Those two did what they were supposed to do in Mobile.
- It was clear when Fresno State QB Jake Haener was under center. The offense/throwing game was stuck in neutral with BYU's Jaren Hall or Louisville's Malik Cunningham in at QB, but Haener's quick decision-making and quick release allowed WR and TE to get involved and be productive. I wrote in my notebook that "when Haener comes in, balls get completed".
- At one point during the practice National team head coach Patrick Graham gave the offense a little donkey BBQ. The very next play, Illinois RB Chase Brown gashed the defense on an inside run, untouched, for a TD. Guess that pep talk worked.
- One play later, Haener hit Payne Durham for a touchdown. Immediately, Durham ran over to NDSU OL Cody Mauch to let him spike the ball in celebration. Mauch nearly flattened the ball with his spike, a great moment and one with a bit of levity too.
- Tulane RB Tyjae Spears made one of the sickest moves I've seen in ten years at the Senior Bowl. Bears OC Luke Getsy is the head coach for the American team and he does something that I've seen other coaches do at the Senior Bowl. Getsy called out three or four different one-on-one matchups just after stretching/activation to get the competitive juices flowing. So, he called up Pitt LB Sirvocea Dennis and Spears. The Tulane star looked like he was going to run a flat route but when he saw Dennis jump that route, Spears planted and cut back inside for a wide open catch. I think I tore my ACL watching that move. SICK. Just SICK move. Spears had two season-ending injuries in his career so he was off the radar screen for some. But in October, he went to a different level. In November, he led Tulane to the AAC Championship. In December, he ran for 199 yards and led Tulane to the AAC Championship over Cincinnati. In January, he led Tulane to a Cotton Bowl win over USC. In February, he dominated the Senior Bowl. It's hard to say there's one player who's helped himself more in that same timeframe as Spears. I absolutely love to watch that guy play football.
- The second 1-on-1 featured Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave and LSU S Jay Ward. Now, keep in mind, Musgrave is 255 pounds. and hit 20 mph on his GPS on day two. That's insane. So Ward started in off coverage and Musgrave ran right by him on a seam go route. Musgrave beat him by two steps and made the catch for a long TD. I mean, WOW. Musgrave ran right past one of the better cover safeties in this draft class.
- The next rep was Oklahoma OT Wanya Morris against Auburn star edge rusher Derick Hall. As soon as Getsy called those two out, I was CONVINCED that Hall would rip past him easily, but Morris dominated the rep. He turned Hall back inside and locked him up rather easily. Then, he punctuated his win with the griddy. Nothing like an OL dropping the griddy at practice.
- South Carolina CB Darius Rush had another pick during goal line 1-on-1's. He then had another one during goal line 7-on-7 later in practice. Then, he knocked another one away on a fade route during 1-on-1's. He was just fantastic during the week.
- Rush's South Carolina teammate, DL Zacch Pickens, single-handedly shut down a 9-on-7 run play. He beat the RG so quick/fast that he met the RB two steps into the play. I've said it repeatedly: Pickens can take over WHEN HE WANTS. He's that talented.
- Ole Miss WR Jonathan Mingo ran some stupidly, SICK routes down in the red zone on Thursday. My goodness. The first one was a slant route that looked like something straight out of A.J. Brown's playbook. He was totally wide open and then he did it again on his next rep.
- One offensive lineman stood out on day three more than any other. Syracuse OT Matthew Bergeron is built like Saints tackle-turned-guard Andrus Peat. Huge arms. Thick trunk and calves. I'm not totally convinced that Bergeron should be a tackle (Peat went to guard too), but he was outstanding in pass protection against Auburn's Derick Hall. Bergeron controlled Hall and directed him away from the QB in each rep. It was Bergeron at his best for sure.
Alright, the notebook is nearly empty and the key decision makers are all on their way home after three wonderful days in Mobile, AL. For the prospects, the football is now over and it's time to prepare for the next event: the NFL Combine.
That's all from Alabama, thanks so much for reading! It's time to come home, just like DeMeco!