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Tag:Urban Meyer
Posted on: September 20, 2010 6:43 pm
 

Diamond in the Rough -- Cal (PA) QB Josh Portis

As I mentioned in my last post, we thought that the Player of the Week and Diamond in the Rough deserved more acknowledgement than they received in the past as part of our Draft Slant coverage. Thus, each Monday I'll highlight the award recipients here on the blog.

Player of the Week, along with The Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect), used to be features of Draft Slant . This PDF file can be purchased as an individual issue or one can purchase the entire year (16 issues). Or, if you just want to see an example, you can download this free sample of Week One here .

I considered several prospects for Diamond in the Rough this week, but with so many of the prolific senior quarterback prospects struggling, I couldn't look past the opportunity to review California (PA) signal-caller Josh Portis, who only a few years ago was expected to be the heir apparent to one Tim Tebow at the University of Florida.


Diamond in the Rough -- September 18, 2010
QB Josh Portis, California (PA) 6-4 / 208 / 4.67
-- opponent East Stroudsburg State
 
Portis, the cousin of Washington Redskins' running back Clinton Portis, was a prep star at William Howard Taft high school in California who was recruited by many of the biggest schools in the country as a quarterback and multi-purpose athlete. He signed with Florida, but only lasted with Urban Meyers team one year. He saw action immediately, however, playing in six of 11 games and completing six of 11 passes during that time for 81 yards and no touchdowns (one interception). Portis elected to transfer to the University of Maryland following his first season and was forced to sit out the 2006 season per NCAA regulations. He was allowed to practice with his Terp teammates, however, and was credited with the Scout Offensive Player of the Year honors following the season. Portis was expected to compete for the starting role a year later, but was suspended for academics (reportedly for cheating on a quiz). He struggled to get playing time with the Terps and ultimately elected to transfer again, this time to California (PA). It didn't take him long to establish himself as a man among boys at this level. Portis broke school records on his way to completing 224 of 407 passes for 3,421 yards and 36 touchdowns. Perhaps not surprisingly, it didn't take Portis long to impress against East Stroudsburg State Saturday, either. The lanky senior quarterback completed a 43-yard bomb down the left sideline on his first pass -- correctly recognizing that he had single coverage on that side. The ball, thrown with good trajectory and accuracy, was completed despite tight coverage. Only a few players later, Portis, dropping back from center, looked off the safety and drilled a crossing route over the middle for his first touchdown of the day. There has been a knock on Portis throughout his career that he's relied on his athleticism, rather than focusing on the little things that quaterbacks need to be successful in the NFL -- especially considering the jump he'll be making from the D-II level. Throughout this contest at least, Portis showed enough natural throwing ability to strongly consider for senior all-star games. He has worked under some heavy hitters in Urban Meyer, Ralph Friedgen and even former Pitt and Stanford head coach Walt Harris, who now serves as California's offensive coordinator. Any kind of endorsement from these coaches and NFL scouts will certainly be taking a peek at this talented passer. If given an opportunity in a senior all-star game or the Combine, Portis could rise into one of the more intriguing developmental passers in the 2011 draft.
Posted on: August 11, 2010 12:04 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2010 12:23 pm
 

Blocking scouts from practice isn't the solution

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is, according to this report from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, blocking pro scouts from Tide football practices in an attempt to cut down on the distractions to his players caused by player agents. The reigning BCS Champion coach is hoping that by doing so it will help keep his players out of hot water with the NCAA.

The strategy, which conflicting reports by Chase Goodbread of the Tuscaloosa News and Florio claim may or may not be implemented by the University of Florida, as well, has an obvious fault.

Limiting access to pro scouts, really, has nothing to do with the sleazy player agents and runners who are attempting to circumvent the rules.

Perhaps rather than limit scouts who are simply trying to do their job of identifying the rare collegiate athletes potentially capable of playing at the game's highest level, the universities should be continuing to fine-tune the education of their players on the dangers of dealing with agents prematurely.

And the NFLPA, the organization that is supposed to have some control over agents, needs to strongly consider bolstering the penalties to agents found guilty of bribing prospects with inappropriate gifts and travel.

In a very real way, locking scouts out hurts everyone except the agents.

  • The NFL loses on their ability to accurately gauge prospective players on and off the field.
  • The players lose because scouts can't scout them accurately.
  • The university eventually could lose out, as well. Prep players sign with college teams to win, but every bit as important to many players is the school's ability to market their players to the NFL. Making players less accessible to the pros is only going to make the schools less attractive to top prospects.
The argument some will make is that by locking out everyone, including NFL personnel, universities can make sure players aren't being hounded by the undesireable element. Does anyone believe that the runners and agents performing the illegal practices are slipping thousands of dollars in cash (or plane tickets, the keys to cars/homes) to players as they walk off the field from practice?

For scouts, the value in going on the road to scout players in person lies in the ability to scout practices (do players take practice seriously, etc?) and in the interviews with players and the coaching staff. Scouts I know typically try to speak to at least three staff members for each prospect -- the position coach, strength and conditioning coach, and trainer.

If locked out of practice, scouts will still be able to watch most of the film they need to see if the player has the size, speed, strength, etc. to play in the NFL.

What will be more difficult to gauge if locked out is if the players have the intangibles to deal with the money, fame and pressure of the NFL. That, could potentially lead to more highly drafted busts.




Posted on: December 26, 2009 7:49 pm
 

Meyer's decision will lead to underclass exodus

If the preliminary reports are true and Urban Meyer is indeed stepping down as head coach of the University of Florida due to a heart condition, you can expect a mass exodus of underclassmen from the program to look into their own hearts and elect to leave school early.

It has been generally assumed among league insiders that defensive end Carlos Dunlap and cornerback Joe Haden would leave early. Both rank among the truly elite at their positions in the country and will likely earn a top 20 selection in the 2010 draft.

The Pouncey twins, Maurkice and Mike, have earned increasing attention from scouts. Maurkice, the recipient of the Rimington Trophy this year as the nation's top center, has been earning the higher praise from scouts than his brother, the Gators' starting right guard. Both are generating Top 100 talk, with Maurkice earning some hype among scouts as a potential first round pick as the top pure center prospect in the country.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez, at 6-2, 250 pounds, lacks the size teams prefer, but his athleticism and reliable hands make him a matchup nightmare down the seam. Some scouts feel Hernandez could leap up draft boards with a strong workout ala former Purdue receiving specialist Dustin Keller, who, of course, was drafted in the first round by the New York Jets.

The Gators could see even more turnover among their skill position should redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey and redshirt junior Emmanuel Moody, a USC transfer, elect to leave early, as well. Both could elect to take advantage of a relatively weak senior class of running backs.


Several other juniors have already turned in requests to the NFL Advisory Committee for grades. Among them are safeties Major Wright and Ahmad Black, offensive linemen Carl Johnson and Marcus Gilbert and defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh.


Posted on: December 1, 2009 8:45 pm
 

Dunlap's "stunning" DUI = draft-day slide?



News of Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap's DUI Tuesday morning swept through the country today, leaving everyone, including NFL scouts, almost speechless.

Some made the comparison to Andre Smith's suspension for dealing with an agent nearly a year ago that kept him out of the Sugar Bowl. Another just characterized the move as "unbelievably dumb." All agreed that his draft stock would slide due to this terrible mistake. Ranked by some in the media as the #1 overall prospect at times this season, it now seems possible that Dunlap could slip out of the top ten... or even further due to this mistake.

Perhaps the best way to describe Dunlap's move was made his own head coach, Urban Meyer, who characterized the news as
"stunning."

"Carlos obviously made a very poor decision," Meyer said. "I have not spoke to him or his family yet. He's not going to play. But I want to visit with him and his family first and go from there."

Though Dunlap is only a junior, scouts widely expected him to leave school after this season. The 6-6, 290 Dunlap has 35 tackles on the season and leads the Gators with 7 sacks despite often being double-teamed. He burst onto the scene as a sophomore, registering 39 tackles and 9.5 sacks and earning Defensive MVP honors in last year's BCS Championship. His unique combination of size, strength and athleticism had earned comparisons to former #1 overall picks Mario Williams and Julius Peppers. Scouts had been especially impressed with Dunlap's upside, as he, unlike many of the lanky pass rushers of recent years, had the strength to hold up at the point in the running game and used his long arms to knock down passes (8) and kicks (4)... 
What a shame that during the week of what may prove to be the true National Championship game, one of the contest's most talented players made a horrendous decision and has, rightfully so, been suspended indefinitely.

Posted on: October 25, 2009 2:47 pm
 

Tebow Lost the Heisman Last Night

For those waking up Sunday morning and reviewing the night's headlines, Florida's 29-19 victory over Mississippi State looks rather ho-hum -- especially considering the last second miracles that kept Alabama and Iowa undefeated.

The story for the Gators this week, however, wasn't the final score, but how the Bulldogs kept the game close -- by pressuring Tim Tebow into the worst day of his career.

Tebow completed only 12 of 22 passes for 127 yards and zero touchdowns. He threw two interceptions -- each poor decisions -- that were returned for touchdowns.

Assuming a fair percentage of Heisman voters were watching (and I have minimal confidence they were), Tebow should have lost the Heisman Trophy tonight.

He wasn't helped by a substantial inactive list for the Gators or by uncharacteristically questionable play-calls by Urban Meyer and the Gators' coaching staff. However, in a season in which Tebow hasn't yet been able to answer scouts' questions about his ability to acclimate to a more pro-style offense, Tebow wasn't successful in the offense taylored to his unique skill-set.

In the race for the Heisman, my vote remains with the best player I've seen all year long: Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh.  
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com