December 15, 2008

Schofield is a Shrine Bowl force on day one

ROEBUCK, S.C. - Take one look at JerQuari Schofield and it's clear that he belongs. Physically, he belongs on a high school football field, on an all-star game football field and on a college football field. On Monday, when practice kicked off at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas at Dorman High School, Schofield stood out among all-stars and showed that he has the size and ability to be an all-star at more than just the high school level.

Even among linemen like Rivals250 member J.K. Jay and four-star Quinton Washington, Schofield looks impressive. At 6-foot-6, 298 pounds, Schofield had a very strong first day at Shrine Bowl practice and was pushing opposing linemen around, even while playing out of position.

The Aiken (S.C.) South Aiken prospect is slated to play offensive tackle in college but for his South Carolina team, Schofield is lining up on the defensive side of the ball. With his strength and power, he is proving to be a lot to handle, particularly with talented defenders like Malliciah Goodman and Justin Anderson flanking him on the outside.

Though sees himself on the offensive side of the ball on the next level, Schofield is enjoying the opportunity to get better and improve his game on defense too. I see myself at left tackle.

"I'm trying to get better always," Schofield said. "I'm always trying to up my game. Right now I'm just working on my pass rush and everything. I'm just watching other guys and seeing what they do. That's what I'm best at and that's what I'm being recruited as."

Despite already being committed to Tennessee, Schofield's recruitment is still active and it may continue to gain steam after word spreads about his abilities in Spartanburg. The most notable school that is staying on the big lineman's trail is Clemson. Though he has already spoken to new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin on the phone, he is listening to what the Tigers have to say.

"My eyes are still open," he said. "I've been talking to Clemson and it's between Clemson and Tennessee right now. I've got visits set up to Clemson and Tennessee."

Old school approach

The spread offense is no longer a new craze or a grass-roots movement in high school football. It is one of the most highly-utilized systems throughout the nation on high school football fields and all-star games are no different. In most all-star games, the spread is being implemented to get numerous players touches on deep and talented rosters.

North Carolina head coach Gary Fowler has not bought in. On Monday, the North Carolina quarterbacks spent most of their day perched under center taking snaps the old fashion way, the tailbacks spent much of their day seven yards deep in the backfield with a fullback nestled right in front of them and the offensive linemen spent much of their day firing off the ball with some good old fashion run blocking.

The early returns on the I formation were positive. Behind Clemson fullback commit Tyler Shatley and some nasty offensive linemen like Nick Allison and Ty Howle, the North Carolina running backs were able to consistently break off nice chunks of yardage in the team scrimmage periods.

Often times in all-star settings the running backs do not get the opportunity to do what the do best: carry the football. North Carolina backs like Larry Raper, Hunter Furr and Damonte Terry likely won't have that problem this Saturday. Through day one, Raper showed the most explosiveness of all of the North Carolina backs and will likely have ample opportunity to test that explosiveness.

Early injuries

On the South Carolina squad, Sam Montgomery was one notable player that was unable to finish the first practice session and sat out the afternoon session. Following the morning practice, Montgomery termed his injury as a sprained toe and said that he would likely be back on the practice fields after taking the remainder of Monday off.

Denzelle Good, a big offensive lineman out of Gaffney High School for the South Carolina squad appeared to go down with a shoulder injury late in the first session but later returned to the field where he appears to be slotted as the starting left tackle. Good had an up and down day, at times struggling with quicker defenders while dominating the player in front of him on other snaps.

Holding pattern

One of the real strengths of the North Carolina team is its receiving corps. In Jheranie Boyd the North Carolina team has one of the top wide receivers in the country. He has track speed that translates to the football field and he was behind defenders all day long.

Boyd is the vertical threat that can extend a defense and he is flanked by Kendrick Wiggins, a sure-handed, crafty receiver that does a good job of getting open and working over defensive backs.

Along with Boyd and Wiggins, Corey Gattis is the quick slot receiver that is dangerous in space that has the ability to make plays with the ball after the catch. Gattis has quick feet and sure hands and had a very nice performance on Monday.

The dilemma for North Carolina is that despite the talent and ability of its receiving corps, the consistency and depth at quarterback will likely make it tough for those players to make the plays they are capable of.

Though the capable trio of Boyd, Wiggins and Gattis may not get the touches that you would expect out of a group with that kind of talent, there is little doubt that when given the opportunity, they will find a way to make the most of it.

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