ORLANDO, Fla. -- The first practice day of the Under Armour All-America Game was highlighted by plenty of speed, athleticism and talent on display. As with any all-star football game or training camp setting, the defensive units jelled a bit quicker than the offenses. There was obviously less thinking and more reacting, particularly with both teams' front sevens.
As the players noticed the television cameras and upper-tier competition on the field, the walk-through quickly led to heated run, pass and one-on-one drills, culminating with a great team period in which all the teaching and positional work came together for the highlight of the practice.
Quarterbacks getting into a groove
Day 1 was more of a mental session for the quarterbacks as they worked on formation alignment, timing and precision. At times, all six signal-callers looked very good. Chase Rettig (Sierra Madre, Calif./San Clemente), who is headed to Boston College, is not the most celebrated quarterback here, but he showed great underneath zip during passing drills and seemed to take control of the offense. Michigan pledge Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich./Inkster) displayed good short-to-intermediate arm strength, and impressed with his ability to improvise out of the pocket and make plays with his feet.
Passing the eyeball test
The White team has a host of defensive players you want getting off the bus first. Future Michigan State defensive end William Gholston (Detroit/Southeastern), Notre Dame defensive tackle commit Louis Nix (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines), Florida State inside linebacker pledge Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Treasure Coast), uncommitted outside linebacker Christian Jones (Lake Howell, Fla./Oviedo) and Georgia safety commit Alec Ogletree (Newnan, Ga.) all looked physically ready for college. In nine-on-seven drills, they also all played the part during inside-run orientated drills. At times, the front seven -- lead by this nucleus -- was almost impossible to create seams against or block one-on-one.
In the trenches
The defensive line units stood out the most Day 1. The great collection of talent up front was able to tee off and get after it quickly because schemes and the cerebral part of the game can be picked up quicker.
Penn State pledge Dominique Easley (Staten Island, N.Y./Curtis), Crimson Tide commit Alfy Hill (Shallotte, N.C./West Brunswick), Todd Chandler (Miami/Northwestern) and Gholston all showed flashes of great get-off and short-area quickness, which helped them make countless plays around the line of scrimmage. Another Penn State verbal, defensive end Dakota Royer (Manheim, Pa./Manheim), might not look as physically impressive as others surrounding him but might be one of the better pure football players on the field; he was very disruptive off the edge.
On the offensive side of the ball, Gamecocks commit Eric Mack (Calhoun County, S.C./St. Matthews) showed very good feet for a 300-pounder as he mirrored pass-rushers all day. Fellow South Carolina verbal A.J. Cann (Bamberg, S.C./Ehrhardt) and Penn State-bound center Miles Dieffenbach (Pittsburgh/Fox Chapel) also displayed good athleticism as pass-blockers.
White team WRs pose tough matchups
Future Georgia Bulldog Da'Rick Rogers (Calhoun, Ga./Calhoun) and the uncommitted Brandon Coleman (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) each had an excellent day split out wide versus the shorter White team corners. Rogers might have had one of the best practice sessions Day 1. He utilized his size, athleticism and great hands to come down with several difficult grabs. Meanwhile, Coleman showed a bit more quickness and fluidity than we thought he had in him, and did a good job creating separation off the line.
On the Black squad, future Longhorn Mike Davis (Dallas/Skyline) and LSU commit Justin Hunter (Ocean Lakes, Va./Spring Beach) stood out. Davis caught most balls thrown in his vicinity and looked precise as a route-runner. Hunter showed flashes of former Under Armour All-American A.J. Green with his great height, athleticism and soft hands.
Running backs show flashes
Black team RB Miami commit Storm Johnson (Loganville, Ga./Loganville) proved once again that he is underrated from a national standpoint. He looked very sturdy and strong running between the tackles and surprised many with his outside speed to get the corner. For the White team, Auburn commit Michael Dyer (Little Rock, Ark./Christian) lived up to his billing as the country's top back by demonstrating excellent balance, in-line quickness and burst to the perimeter on outside zone schemes.
• Florida State commit CB Lamarcus Joyner (Miami/St. Thomas Aquinas) flashed his five-star ability during one-on-one drills, breaking up several balls with great recovery speed and athleticism, but was challenged at times by taller receivers.
• Fellow Sunshine State defensive back Demar Dorsey (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Boyd Anderson), a future Gator, displayed equally impressive recovery speed and range, making plays on balls in deep coverage.
• LSU pledge Luke Muncie (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak) made some plays on Day 1 down in the box, which is where he likely will be playing full time in Baton Rouge, La. We project that by the end of the week, we'll make him an outside linebacker, because he struggled versus quicker slot receivers.
• Auburn verbal inside linebacker Jake Holland (Pelham, Ala./Pelham) was a pleasant surprise. Aside from his downhill, run-stopping ability -- which we knew was a strength -- he made some plays in pass coverage, including an athletic interception.
• Alabama-bound guard Chad Lindsay (The Woodlands, Texas/Woodlands) struggled a bit versus more athletic defensive linemen, as did future LSU Tiger Evan Washington (DeSoto, Texas) off the edge. However, Washington showed flashes of great strength and has very good upside as a potential right tackle.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school levels.