Brunner's Blog, Playoffs


College area scout Todd Brunner checks in for his latest Brunner's Blog, updating you on the East Coast Bowl, college playoffs and some of the speculation in the college world.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I was going to be attending the East Coast Bowl again this year, so as planned I left the Friday morning after Thanksgiving and caught a flight to Washington DC. I rented a car from there and then drove to Petersburg, Virginia which took less time than trying to take a connecting flight into there.

It was the sixth year they've had this game, and they are going to try to put one together on the west coast next year but for now, kids not in the playoffs from NAIA up to I-AA programs anywhere in the country are usually featured in the game.

It started out as an all-star game with smaller schools from Virginia and Carolina but it has expanded to involve more kids and really just gives them a chance to play one more game and get looked at by NFL scouts.

The players had reported the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, had height, weight and other testing done on Thanksgiving Day, and then were ready for a double session of practices on Friday.

They had double sessions on Friday and so I viewed the South practice in the morning and then followed them over to the stadium where both teams had lunch. That gave me an opportunity to sit down and meet with a handful of players who the 49ers pinpointed for me to speak with. I also added some guys to my list that had very good work outs as well.

The QB from Norfolk State Casey Hansen was there, as well as the kicker Piotr Czech from Wagner College who I had just gone in to look at shortly before. He's got a strong leg and is intriguing because he handles punts, kickoffs and field goals, so it was good to sit down and speak with him some.

Portland State also had an offensive lineman Darren Heerspink who Ethan Waugh had earmarked for me to take a look at as well. He's got good size and has some athletic skills that make him an NFL prospect.

After lunch they had the second practice, and I went to see the North team work at that time and then headed back to DC to catch my flight home.

I made one last trip up to Hofstra last week, leaving the house at 5AM to beat New York traffic. I had five prospects there to check on and it also gave me an opportunity to look at tape on some of other east coast I-AA schools who are in their conference. Some of the players I took a look at included a kicker, who also played in the East Coast game. They've got a defensive back and a kick returner who were both very productive at the I-AA level. The only deterrent is their size, but they could fit on some teams in the NFL.

That Friday was the start of the I-AA playoffs and there were a handful of teams from my area in the playoff hunt including Delaware, Delaware State, New Hampshire, UMASS and Richmond.

It was the first time ever that Delaware and Delaware State played against teach other in a football game, with Delaware winning and since advancing into the semi-finals this weekend. Delaware's quarterback Joe Flacco has made a few of my blogs as the coaching staff there thinks very highly of him. I think at this point, so do many NFL evaluators, and he should go pretty high in the draft. Their running back Omar Cuff is also very talented, and has good chance of winning the Walter Payton award this year. So, they'll travel to Carbondale to play Southern Illinois this Saturday.

Another one of my team's also remains in the hunt in Richmond, who will travel to North Carolina to play Appalachian State.

There were a few other games I was interested in watching over this past weekend. West Virginia had a chance to play in the National Championship game, but Pitt went into Morgantown and handled them. They controlled their offense and basically played a flawless game on the defensive side of the ball to put a damper on West Virginia's title hopes.

Two of my other schools, Boston College and Virginia Tech, also played in the ACC Championship down in Jacksonville. Virginia Tech was able to avenge an earlier loss to Boston College with a victory. Scot McCloughan actually attended that game live to get another set of eyes on the prospects from those two schools.

All the talk around my hometown these days is about Michigan being after Rutgers head coach in Greg Schiano. I'll be interested to see what happens because he's done a very solid job for Rutgers and that would be a loss for their program if he did leave. He's without question brought credibility to their program.

All of our reports had to be turned in on Monday, so now I've got a little time in the next few weeks to catch up with my family and they are very happy about that. I have picked up my duties as a basketball coach for my daughter's team and that's going well. We had an exciting win last week.

Next up will be all-star games, bowl games and then waiting to see underclassmen declare so it might be a while before I check in with another blog.

Until then –

Todd Brunner

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