In this week’s Small school scouting notebook, we take a look at three different prosepcts that are certainly on NFL team’s radars, including a former basketball player with exciting upside.
Those three (from Bloomsburg, Jacksonville State, and Wofford) along with notes from Montana and Montana State and news clippings from the rest of the small school level, one of the final small school notebooks of the weeks could be one that provides the most NFL prospect insight.
Bloomsburg vs. Shippensburg
Larry Webster, DE/OLB, Bloomsburg, 6’7, 240
While Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com reported that “several” NFL teams have their eye on Webster, I’m not ready to say he’s a legit NFL prospect quite yet. The former basketball player (on Bloomsburg) has the natural size (6’7) and room to add to his frame (currently 240 pounds). For a raw defnesive end, he does a good job of holding the edge blocker on his inside shoulder, driving back as he attacks/sets the edge. He regains his balance off the edge as well, is aggressive to the backfield in the run game, plays wide in space to make the tackle, and has better than expected upper body strength. But his hand placement really needs improvement, he can’t separate from blockers very well, needs to add substantial bulk to his lower half, and comes off the ball too slow and with poor pad level at times. Overall, he’ll need a fantastic workout to impress enough to get more than a camp invite to see what he can do.
Chris Restro, OT, Shippensburg – 6’6, 290
Not a special blocker and a fringe NFLer in general, Restro has ideal size, opens up well in pass protection, and flashed some next level blocking ability. Still, he lacks ideal lower body strength and comes off too high off the snap initially.
Cody Fleming, OLB, Shippensburg, 6’1, 222 Wofford vs. South Carolina/Jacksonville State vs. Florida
More of a coverage focused linebacker in the Shippensburg, Fleming got to his drops fairly well, recovers well as tackler after drop/read steps, and takes solid angles in the open field. Not necessarily an impact linebacker at the next level and may not have ideal bulk to fit in a pure 4-3 scheme, he flashes the niche skill sets to potentially get looks from CFL/AFL to start.
Eric Breitenstein, FB, Wofford, 6’0, 240
The current FCS leader in rushing yards got a chance to match-up with South Carolina this weekend, and, statistically, didn’t disappoint. The fullback in the option attack of Wofford showed great initial pad level, quickness to his top gear, and hand usage as he worked up field. Also, it’s easy to like his willingness to initiate connect and his strong legs through contact. But he lacks a top gear as a running back and doesn’t have great lateral quickness. Also, and maybe more importantly for his position, he hasn’t been asked to do a lot of lead blocking in the run game nor pass protections either. A successful FB/RB who may not be either at the NFL level, he’ll have an uphill battle.
Wofford vs. South Carolina/Jacksonville State vs. Florida
Jared Singleton, OC, Wofford, 6’2, 309
Maybe equally as impressive as Breitenstein, Singleton showed as much as an option blocking offensive lineman could. With 6’2, 309 size, he moves well to the next level, comes off the snap with great pad level and initial hand strength, and pivots with strength and a solid base. His ability to handle the strength of the South Carolina defensive line impressed me, both initially and at the second level, and was a big reason for Breitenstein’s initial running space in this game and throughout this year.
Washaun Ealey, RB, Jacksonville State, 6’0, 220
The former Georgia transfer, Ealey has enjoyed success these past two seasons at Jacksonville State. The running back, who is moved around as a slot receiver for pass patterns and reverses, has flashed versatility as a running back. While as a runner he flashes the body control necessary to make plays in open field, he doesn’t play with ideal pad level, lacks ideal vision up and through the hole, and has a longer build. But with his experience as a receiver this year in shorter routes, positioning as a receiver, and maybe most impressively, how much he’s been asked (and how well he’s been doing) as a pass protector this year, he could provide enough intrigue as a situational guy at the next level.
Tori Mobley, OG, Jacksonville State, 6’2, 285
While not the talent that Singleton of Wofford in terms of an interior linemen, he extends as a blocker upfield, and uses his length well at the second level to utilize his ability. He lacks ideal lower body strength to drive effectively in the run game consistently and doesn’t thrust his hips as well as you’d like.
Montana vs. Montana State (by Mark Dulgerian)
Caleb Schreibeis, DE, Montana State
Schreibeis is the most decorated defensive linemen of the bunch, a Buchanan Award Nominee. He has good length but lacks the bulk and strength to set the edge against he run and consistently win against heavy package plays at him. He does, however, possess a nice first step and uses quick hands to keep blockers out of his shell. He shows some stiffness in bending the edge but closes quickly on the ball carrier and usually finishes the play.
Jody Owens, ILB, Montana State
One of the more talented players in the Montana State front seven is Jody Owens. Owens is undersized, listed at 6 feet, but he flows well to the ball and coverslot of ground, often running down backs sideline to sideline. He isn’t stopwatch fast, but he doesn’t take false steps and takes good angles to the ball. He also packs a powerful punch at contact.
Zach Minter, DT, Montana State
Minter is also undersized but has shown the ability to disrupt plays on a down to down basis using leverage and natural power. He has good suddenness at the snap and can jolt OL at the point, but he can be overwhelmed by bigger linemen.
Dan Moore, FB, Montana
Despite being a full back, Dan Moore is the team’s most talented offensive player. Moore has suffered a slew of foot injuries that kept him out of a handful of games this year, but he came back in a limited role this weekend against the Bobcats. When healthy, he is a powerful downhill runner with leg drive you don’t often see in FCS backs. He has enough change or direction ability to attack sudden creases and consistently lowers his pad level to finish off runs.
Greg Hardy, TE, Montana
Hardy is a linear athlete who has been a bit underwhelming this season. His improvement in route running has been marginal most of his work is done between the hashes from the 5-10 yard range. Still, he shows good concentration making tough catches in traffic and provides a large catch radius for his QB.
Peter Nguyen, RB, Montana
The team’s MVP, Nguyen is a smallish quicker than fast back who provides some versatility in the return game as well. He doesn’t provide much in short yardage situations his physical limitations likely mean 3rd down duties in a sub-NFL league.
General Small School Notes
-In Elon’s season ending game, wide receiver Aaron Mellette finished his college career in style, posting 188 yards and a touchdown in a loss to SoCon rival Chattanooga. Mellette’s performance included a 46 yard completion, on a key third down conversion, and a 57 yard strike for a touchdown. He leaves Elon with 4,254 career receiving yards, 303 catches, and 44 touchdowns.
General Small School Notes
-Eastern Washington’s 41-34 victory included an impressive offensive outburst in the passing game, with the Eagles junior QB Kyle Padron laying 381 yards and 2 touchdowns on their Big Sky conference mates. Both scores went to wide receiver Nicolas Edwards, who also recorded 77 receiving yards, but it was fellow wideout Brandon Kaufman who had the busiest day, hauling in 9 passes for 161 yards.
-Jackson State defensive end Joseph LeBeau capped off a fantastic senior season with 20.5 tackles for a loss, including a 3.5 and 2 sacks this past weekend to clinch a spot in the SWAC Championship game. The 6’1, 245 edge rusher will still have an uphill battle to show he’s a 3-4 rusher at the next level.
-Despite losing to Texas A&M 47-28 (including being down by 47 until the 3rd quarter, Sam Houston State’s junior running back Tim Flanders ran for 64 yards and a TD. This bruising, tough loss game may show a lot about Flanders ability against top talent. Another top FCS junior is Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion. Watch for both of these prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft.
-UT-Martin receiver Quentin Sims, a prospect I’ve grown to be more and more intrigued with thanks to his size and ball grabbing skills in traffic. He helped lead his team over Tennessee State with 8 catches for 176 yards. From D2Football.com: “Former Mizzou RB Derrick Washington making most of second chance at Division II Tuskegee“
-Also in D3 news, John Gagliardi of St. Johns College will retire this year, ending his 59 year coaching career with 489 wins, most all time in college football history.