PETERSBURG, Va. – The seventh annual East Coast Bowl was played this past weekend at Cameron Stadium as nearly 80 small-school prospects from 42 states and Washington D.C. performed for scouts.
The South was led by Willard Bailey, an esteemed coach in the region, who has been in charge of programs such as Norfolk State and St. Paul's University. The North squad featured Steve White and Curtis Watts, who are the founders of the American Football Alumni, as well as Alex Stone, the founder of the J.C. All-American Bowl held in Mesa, Ariz.
I coordinated the North defensive unit with Coach Stone as teams were given just one day of double-session practices before the game.
Kutztown U. quarterback Kyle Spotts (North) threw a pair of touchdown passes, while both Dane Samuels (Iona) and Jason Butler (Wagner) were able to find open holes to keep the ground game moving. Lenny Trusnik (Ohio Northern) played on both sides of the ball, recording seven tackles at linebacker, and rushing for 18 yards on three carries.
Stillman (Ala.) cornerback/return man Denatay Heard sparked the South with a 97-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, but it ended up being the team's only score as the North prevailed 35-7.
Wagner kicker/punter Piotr Czech made five field goals, including a long of 46 yards. Defensive linemen Blair Boynton (Northern Arizona), Bruno Dorismond (Maine), David Tash (Iona) and Jake Owens (Fairmont State) combined to record seven sacks. Overall, the North had nine sacks, forced six turnovers and held the South to 75 yards of total offense, including minus-22 yards rushing.
Lindenwood (Mo.) punter Zac Atterberry had great hang time on his kicks during practices, routinely hitting 4.5 seconds on most watches. Former Tennessee recruit RoShaun Fellows was a late invitee who played both cornerback positions and free safety.
Wide receiver Almonzo Banks (West Liberty State) ran in the mid-to-high 4.4 range during workouts, while Central Arkansas cornerback Tristan Jackson and Heard flashed past in times under 4.4. Scouts also seemed interested in the results posted by Mississippi Valley State offensive tackle Thaddeus Coleman, Tarleton State defensive tackle Tywain Myles and Owens.
Two prospects did not play because of minor injuries. But Southern Utah offensive lineman Matt Roan (elbow) and Lane (Tenn.) wide receiver Ed Williams, Jr. (ankle) both decided to show up in order to take part in the off-field tests given by scouts.
• University of Miami officials are making a hard push to retain some of their top juniors, including defensive end Calais Campbell, safety Kenny Phillips and defensive end Eric Moncur.
• Oregon State senior running back Yvenson Bernard believes he will be ready for Saturday's game against in-state rival Oregon. Bernard had minor surgery on his right knee in order to clear out some debris, but is already back on his feet.
• Washington senior center Juan Garcia, who has been given an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA, was not introduced with the Huskies' seniors this past weekend. That might be an indication that he plans to compete for a sixth college season rather than opt for the NFL Draft. He will have to make that decision by January.
• Washington State junior wide receiver Brandon Gibson has indicated that he plans to return to school next season, but will ask the NFL Advisory Committee for his current draft grade. He set a school single-season record with 1,180 receiving yards, including six catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Washington last week.
• Wisconsin expects to have junior cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu and junior tight end Travis Beckum back next season. Ikegwuonu could be the top-rated senior cornerback entering next fall.
• Arkansas senior fullback Peyton Hillis will play in the Senior Bowl.
• LSU has announced that six seniors will play in the Senior Bowl – defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, linebacker Ali Highsmith, cornerback Chevis Jackson, safety Craig Steltz, wide receiver Early Doucet and running back/fullback Jacob Hester.
2008 NFL DRAFT NOTE
The Dallas Cowboys acquired the Cleveland Browns' 2008 first-round pick in a deal that netted the Browns quarterback Brady Quinn last April. At first, it appeared the Cowboys could get a Top-10 choice. But with the Browns now 7-4 and a playoff contender, Cleveland's move is looking shrewd.