Brunner's Blog: Covering Ground

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College area scout Todd Brunner is back for year two of his Brunner's Blog. Brunner hit several schools, and a few states last week before settling in this week in Virginia.  Catch up with him and get updates on the college side of things in his latest blog…

I started off last week, leaving the house on Sunday for a 340 mile trip to New Hampshire. I listened to our game against the Seahawks on the radio, That's in the past now, but it was one of the ugliest games I've ever listened to on air.

On Monday morning I headed over to the University of New Hampshire and watched their quarterback Ricky Santos who is the reigning winner of the Walter Payton award last year. It's in essence the Heisman Trophy for IAA, and Santos is one of the guys on the Payton list again this year.

He's in an offense that suits his abilities and really helps him be a productive quarterback. He's got a very strong touchdown/interception ratio. He actually got hurt this past weekend in a game against Delaware, so I hope it's not too serious of an injury. They've been in some shoot outs and lost some games but they did go down to Marshall and beat them. Marshall is an IA school so that was an upset and great for New Hampshire. The last four years they've played three IA teams and they've won – Rutgers, Northwestern and now Marshall. Santos has been the quarterback in all three games.

Later on Monday I drove up to Maine, another nice long ride and watched tape on a tight end of theirs, Matt Mulligan. He's only played a few years of football because he was a soccer play in high school at a small town in Maine. He's a good size kid, but he's still learning the nuances of playing the position. Maine is another IAA school, they are in the same conference as Delaware, New Hampshire. They compete and they are a good program.

I headed on to Portland, Maine which brought my day of driving up to 370 miles. I ordered my birthday dinner, which was Chinese takeout and ate it in my room. Don't feel sorry for me though, because my kids had decorated the house the week before as a surprise celebration since they knew I'd be gone for the actual day.

Tuesday morning, I drove down to Bentley College, which is located just north of Boston. I looked at an offensive lineman Mack Bernadeau there. He's a player who a lot of scouts are going into see, as he's being compared to some other guys in the NFL who have come out from small programs like Jahri Evans and Jermon Bushrod. At that level of competition, you like to see a kid who can dominate and he shows that. He's very athletic, he's very strong. He's not completely technique sound but that's why our coaches are paid to coach. They can take a raw kid who has athletic ability, which you cannot teach, and help him learn the techniques to play the position. He's going to be that small school kid come draft time who will get a lot of publicity.

On Wednesday I went into Boston College. I normally go to one of their games, which is always a great stop because of the clam chowder in the press box, but they changed their rules this year in terms of when scouts can come in. They are only allowing scouts to come through in the middle of the week now, so it didn't work for me to be there on a weekend where I could attend a game.

After watching them on tape, you can see why they are one of the top ten teams in the country and the reason they are, and most people on their coaching staff would admit to this, is because of their quarterback Matt Ryan. That's a name you are going to hear as far as top quarterbacks in the country because he's definitely one of them. They've got a brand new coaching staff and a brand new offensive system and it's been one that in just a short time, this kid has really mastered. They are running a pro style offense as their head coach came from the Green Bay Packers. They've had him watch a lot of tape of Brett Favre, and he will remind you of Favre in some ways because he'll throw those balls into tight coverage and make tough completions. Ryan is very smart and is an extension of the coaching staff on the field. He has all of the tools you want a quarterback to have and I wouldn't be surprised if he's starting for an NFL team within the next two years.

BC also has a couple of offensive linemen that I wanted to take a look at, particularly because BC is known for producing top linemen. In particular, their tackle Gos Cherilus has a chance to be a first-day pick. He's definitely a reason why Ryan has been able to have so much success. He's a big kid, athletic, very tough, nasty, and he's not afraid to speak his mind. He gets after the team during practices and lets guys know when they are not practicing hard. Even though they are one of the top teams, he's not letting up and that's something you like to see in a player. It shows their passion.

They've also got Dejuan Tribble, a tough corner who has a knack for finding the football. He'll come up and make a hit and he's got a knack for picking the ball off. He's one of the leaders of their defenses and has made some big-time interceptions for them on the season.

On Thursday, I finished off my week with two more visits.

My first was to Brown University which is located in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown is one of those programs that each year has a guy or two who is very productive and has NFL type measurables, so it's an annual stop for me usually even though it is an Ivy League school. I took a look at two kids there, a safety and a wide receiver. Paul Raymond, the receiver has had a very productive year for Brown and is one of their key playmakers. He's also a member of their track team, so he's got some speed and he's a game breaker for the football team. He can change the game in a hurry. Jose Yearwood is the safety, and he's got NFL size. If he can play up to his size potential, he has a chance to be in an NFL camp.

From there I drove over to UCONN which was my second trip. My first time through there was before they had played any regular season games, so it gave me a chance to watch tape on the 2007season instead of seeing older stuff from last year. I was glad I went in because it gave me a chance to see Donald Thomas, an offensive lineman who has really come on this year and played well. He's probably the guy who stands out the most, although they also have a corner Tyvon Branch who plays very physical. I wanted to try to get a good feel for whether or not he'd be more of a corner in the NFL, or if he'd need to make the move to safety.

I'll have a final look at them when I see them play Virginia this weekend.

I drove home last Friday morning and then on Saturday I went to the Princeton game against Hampton which had two side notes going for it. It was only the second time an Ivy League school had played a historically black college, and it was the first time Princeton had ever done so. It gave me a chance to see the guys from Hampton live. The first half was a good game, the stands were crowded but Princeton headed into the half with a 27-14 lead. the second half was a totally different game as Hampton rebounded and ended up winning the game 48-27. The Hampton band even won over the Princeton crowd with their performance.

This week I'm in the state of Virginia all week. I drove down Sunday afternoon and I'll be visiting eight schools this week, and catching one game in the next ten days. So far I've been at Norfolk State, Hampton, William & Mary, and then attended Liberty's practice today. I'll go back in there on Wednesday morning to watch tape.

I'm glad I went into Norfolk State because it gave me a chance to see their quarterback Casey Hansen. This is his second year at the school after transferring in last year. He's gotten better since his arrival. He's still got some things to work on from a technical standpoint, but he's got the ability and the size.

Hampton was also a solid visit. They've got three defensive linemen who I want to keep an eye on because they've all got a chance to play at the next level. The one name to keep on the backburner would be Kendall Langford. He's got size and has shown the ability to take over a game.

  • Until the next time…
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