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December 31, 2008

Army analysis: Scrimmage standouts

MORE: Army skills competition gallery | U.S. Army AA Bowl coverage | More all-star coverage

SAN ANTONIO Rivals.com national recruiting editor Jeremy Crabtree breaks down some of the top performers from U.S. Army All-America Bowl scrimmages Wednesday at the Alamodome.

Army All-American Bowl Standouts: Wednesday
LB VONTAZE BURFICT, 6-2/255, Corona (Calif.) Centennial
ASSETS: Is easily the most vicious hitter on the West roster, but he also displayed a great nose for the football and ability to pursue to the football.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Burfict sometimes can over pursue the play because of his aggressiveness.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN SCRIMMAGE: Had an early interception that he returned back for a touchdown. He also laid the hardest hit of the day when he laid out a ball carrier on a toss to the right.
CONCLUSION: Burfict has had a solid week of practice and has performed on the type of level you would expect from one of the nation's best defensive players.
ATH Orson Charles, 6-3/230, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
ASSETS: Easily the vocal leader for the East team, Charles plays a number different roles, including slot receiver, tight end, fullback and is a special teams demon.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: What position does he play in college? Is he a tight end, wide receiver, outside linebacker or defensive end? He's too small to play tight end, at in the traditional sense.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN SCRIMMAGE: Charles' pure intensity was the headliner for the East practice on Wednesday. He made several really big catches on seam routes up the middle and on out patterns that would have been good for first downs in game situations. But his vocal leadership and ability to fire up his teammates was the most impressive thing.
CONCLUSION: No matter if Charles is a man without a position, he's a valuable player you want on your team. His passion by anybody on both rosters is unmatched.
WR Willie Downs, 6-2/192, Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby
ASSETS: Downs can help pretty much anywhere at the skill positions, and he had good moments at receiver, safety and even a little bit at cornerback on Wednesday. His versatility, speed and football knowledge are his strongest assets for sure.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Downs just needs to find a true home, which most likely will end up as a safety.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN SCRIMMAGE: Did a great job in situations where he was called to cover a receiver man-to-man in the slot from the safety position, including a pickoff on a long post pattern. Downs also came up and closed on the ball when it was thrown in the flat on several plays and delivered big blows. He also looked good in a few key situations as a receiver on slip screens and underneath patterns.
CONCLUSION: While Downs is listed as an receiver, this week is proving quite clearly that he's one of the most multitalented athletes in the game. He looks like once he finds a home at safety he'll be a good player on the next level.
DE Alex Okafor, 6-5/232, Pflugerville, Texas
ASSETS: Is extremely quick off of the ball and possesses good athleticism for his size. Okafor also has long arms that allow him to keep offensive lineman off his body.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Sometimes linemen get engaged with him, and he's not able to get them off his body, plus he does need to work on keeping his pad level low at the point of attack.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN SCRIMMAGE: Was the most disruptive defensive lineman for the West. When the West tried to run outside, he was often there waiting on them. When there was a passing situation, he often was in the quarterback's face. Okafor went all out in the scrimmage and was one of the most impressive players in the event.
CONCLUSION: Okafor is ranked as a five-star player and one of the nation's elite defensive ends. His performance Wednesday did nothing to change anybody's mind on that topic. He's the real deal and has proven it again and again.
QB Tyrik Rollison, 6-2/185, Sulphur Springs, Texas
ASSETS: Threw some really beautiful deep balls on Wednesday, including two hookups with Timmons for touchdowns. Also stayed poised in the pocket, despite having defenders like Okafor in his face on almost every pass attempt.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to add size to take the wear and tear of Division I football.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN SCRIMMAGE: The more reps Rollison got on Wednesday, the better he looked. After struggling for most of the week, Rollison finally seemed to find his groove. He scrambled around on one touchdown pass before connecting with Timmons in the back of the end zone. He also threw another laser beam strike for a score on a pass down the seam.
CONCLUSION: It's been a rough week for Rollison as he didn't look as impressive on Monday and Tuesday as fellow West quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Allan Bridgford, but Wednesday was Rollison's day. He looked comfortable, poised and like the quarterback that destroyed defenses in the Texas state playoffs.
WR GREG TIMMONS, 6-3/191, Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower
ASSETS: Has great size, is strong enough to fight tough coverage at the line of scrimmage and uses his hands really well.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Isn't the most precise route runner but is still technically sound enough that the small points will be corrected in college.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN SCRIMMAGE: Had three impressive touchdown grabs, including one when he leap up over a defender in the back of the end zone. The defender was draped all over him, but he had little trouble going up and getting the ball.
CONCLUSION: It's hard to label a player ranked as one of the top 250 players it the nation a surprise, but Timmons has had a very solid week of practice.



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