College area scout Todd Brunner checks in for his latest Brunner's Blog, updating you on the UCONN/Virginia and the Rutgers/USF games, and his recent trips in to Virginia Tech, University of Virginia at Wise College and Syracuse.**
Going back to the weekend before last I caught the UCONN game at Virginia. They were two evenly matched teams. UCONN came into the game undefeated while Virginia had one loss. Both teams were similar in that their defenses were really carrying them as neither offense had really been great all year, and that proved true in that game. It was a one-point victory by Virginia.
I felt good about seeing the guys at UCONN one more time, both the offensive lineman and the corner who I have talked about in previous blogs.
It was also good to see some guys from Virginia live, like Chris Long, Howie Long's son. Longis probably one of the top defensive players in this year's draft. He plays the same position as his father and the kid is non-stop all the time. He never takes a play off, he's a high energy player, and is very technique sound. I'm sure his father has helped coach him up, and he looks like the spitting image of his father. He's everything you want as far as a player, high intensity on the field, a hard worker in the film and class rooms and a good person off the field. He's definitely the epitome of a standout football player.
Virginia also has a center named Marcus Lipsey. He's a bit undersized for the position but he's a big time overachiever. He works hard, runs hard, moves around well and is one of their assistant coach's favorite players. On effort alone, he'll definitely be in someone's camp and a tough guy not to keep around.
On Sunday morning I drove down to Bristol, Virginia, known for the Bristol Speedway where they hold NASCAR races. Tennessee and Virginia Tech have contemplated playing a game there where they'd draw well over a 100,000 people. That's yet to come to fruition but there have been talks of doing so.
On Monday I went into an NAIA school, University of Virginia at Wise College. I took a peek at a running back there, Ra'Shad Morgan. He's a very productive kid, one of the top running backs in that division and coming from that division, you have to really stand out and he's done that so far this season. He's a decent sized kid and he's got a chance to get into someone's camp. The last time I was at this school I actually wasn't scouting for the 49ers at the time, and it was called Clinch Valley. The kid who I looked at back then was tight end Shonn Bell, who was in fact signed by the 49ers as an undrafted rookie free agent. I think he may have spent a year or two on the team's practice squad.
I drove over that night to Blacksburg, Virginia and headed into Virginia Tech first thing Tuesday morning. Virginia Tech has only one loss to LSU and is one of the top teams in the country, so I had fifteen guys to watch tape on. Given their success this year, I ran into about nine other college scouts from NFL teams who were doing the same thing as me.
We all met with the trainer and he went over some background stuff with us as far as character goes and how the guys are when they are in the training room, so that helped us to get somewhat of a feel for them.
They've got four wide receivers, an offensive lineman, four defensive linemen, two linebackers, a safety, a corner and two kickers. It was a busy day and I watched tape until practice at 3:45 that afternoon.
It was their bye week and they were already starting to prepare for this week's game, a big showdown against Boston College on Thursday night. It was a good tempo and they were also having a good time switching jerseys, which didn't work too well for all of the scouts who were trying to evaluate them. I think one of their coaches said something to them and so they switched back.
One of their top defensive players is linebacker Xavier Adidi. He's a very productive guy, very athletic, he runs well and covers ground well. The guy can find the football. Offensively, the one receiver who stands out in particular is wide receiver/punt returner Eddie Royal, who when given a chance to return a punt, is definitely a game breaker. At any given time, he can take it the distance.
I headed home that night after practice and arrived about two in the morning. I was able to drop my kids off at school that next morning, but an hour later the school nurse called and I had to go get my son because he was sick. Fortunately I was able to re-arrange my schedule which was mostly local based for the end of the week, so that I could stay home with my son who remained sick the rest of the week. I used the time during the day to catch up on my reports and then I attended the Rutgers game against South Florida last Thursday night.
It was a big game because prior to that South Florida had just become the number two team in the nation in the BCS standings. The Rutgers threw too much defensively at South Florida, and I think it flustered South Florida's quarterback in the second half. South Florida got some turnovers on special teams, but they were unable to capitalize on them. South Florida still had a chance to tie the game, getting the ball at midfield for one final drive, but penalties actually moved them backwards and Rutgers held on to a 30-27 win.
On Saturday I took my son and daughter with me up to our team hotel to pick up my tickets for Sunday's game against the Giants. My kids lucked out and got to meet Frank Gore and Coach Nolan, so they were very excited. My son happened to being wearing his Gore jersey, which he got autographed.
I got to see Oscar Lofton, our scout who had retired this past April after the draft. He and his wife flew up earlier in the week and then attended the game, and he looked great. He lost about 20 pounds and he's moving around well after having one of his knees replaced.
This is now the second game which I've attended that we've lost, so I think maybe listening to them on the radio is a better idea. I thought offensively, other than the turnovers obviously, we moved the ball much better than we had. That drive in the second quarter when we scored showed that we are capable of moving the ball. We are good enough to move the ball, but we just need to get out of the funk.
On Monday I made the four-hour drive to Syracuse where I camped for the night before heading into the school this morning. I wanted to watch some more tape on them because they have three offensive and three defensive prospects. One guy I was looking at in particular was tight end J.J. Nesheiwat, who I spoke about a few weeks ago after watching him play on television in that game against Louisville. He's continued to be a big part of their offense in terms of production. They've only won two games, but they continue to battle and they have not thrown in the towel.
Defensively the guy who stood out was safety Joe Fields, a converted quarterback. He's definitely improved since the beginning of the year and he shows good athletic ability and range.
I'm heading over to West Point to watch Army practice this afternoon. Two of their assistant coaches are the brothers of my fellow scouting blogger Ehtan Waugh, so I'll update you on that in my next blog.