January 3, 2011

Army AA analysis: West breakdown

SAN ANTONIO -- The first practice for the West dealt with getting each position group on the same page and understanding new terminology. Some players are working at unfamiliar positions, while others are just trying to get accustomed to working alongside new teammates. Below Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Barry Every breaks down seven prospects who just missed being named Top Performers.

Odell Beckham, Jr. (ATH), 4-Star, Uncommitted

Assets: Very quick fluid athlete with soft hands

Areas for improvement: Currently a bit on the thin side, which brings up concerns of durability and the ability to make yards after contact

What was most impressive in practice: Even though he was not targeted as much as some of the other receivers, he showed the ability to consistently catch the ball away from his body.

Conclusion: Beckham looks like a versatile athlete who could excel on both sides of the ball while making his mark as a return man. He did nothing on this day to hurt his stock as a prospect.

Jason Gibson (WDE), 4-Star, Cal commit

Assets: Extremely quick off the edge with above average speed, he also uses his hands well.

Areas for improvement: Really lacks the size to play defensive end at the next level and may be better suited as a linebacker, a position he has not played in high school.

What was most impressive in practice: During one-on-ones, he blew by Greg Robinson unabated and then followed that up by getting Ryker Mathews off balance and knocking him backwards to the ground.

Conclusion: There is no question he is a tremendous athlete who could make a difference on coverage teams. But what position is he going to be at the next level? My guess is a linebacker in the 3-4 defense, which would keep his stock high.

Harvey Langi (ATH), 4-Star, Uncommitted

Assets: Has good hands for a fullback/H-back and showed the willingness to get down field and place his helmet on a defender as a lead blocker

Areas for improvement: He really wants to become an every-down back in college, which means learning to run with lower pad level. Langi also could improve his overall speed and quickness if he expects to carry the ball more than 10 times a game.

What was most impressive in practice: Just like during the camp circuit earlier this year, he demonstrated soft hands out of the backfield.

Conclusion: Serious thought about shifting his Rivals.com position to running back or fullback needs to be considered. This is his most comfortable position, and he could be the top fullback in the country, in my opinion.

Colt Lyerla (ATH), 4-Star, Uncommitted

Assets: Lyerla has excellent overall size and plenty of room for further growth. He is clearly one of the better jumbo athletes here and is not afraid to hit.

Areas for improvement: This is another athlete who has spent most of his high school career touching the ball. He is really too big to continue to play running back in college, so embracing either the linebacker position or possibly the tight end position is in his best interest.

What was most impressive in practice: Lyerla had the biggest hit of the day, smashing Herschel Sims at the line of scrimmage on a run outside the tackle box.

Conclusion: The sky is the limit for this Brian Urlacher clone. He can be as good as he wants if he focuses on football, eliminating any other outside interference in his life.

Ryker Mathews (OT), 4-Star, BYU commit

Assets: Mathews possibly is the best looking lineman in pads on the West squad. He has excellent height, long arms and is fairly light on his feet.

Areas for improvement: When pass setting, he needs to be conscious of his pad level, keeping shorter defenders from getting underneath his pads.

What was most impressive in practice: He did an excellent job keeping his shoulders and feet squared up on the defender while pass setting.

Conclusion: There is no question that he has the size and ability to play either tackle position at the next level. If he can string together a consistent week of practice, expect his stock to rise slightly.

Jaxon Shipley (WR), 4-Star, Texas commit

Assets: Shipley has good speed while being very quick. He also showed soft hands in the afternoon practice.

Areas for improvement: He really needs to add some size and strength, which should aid in durability while improving his ability to get off man coverage versus physical corners.

What was most impressive in practice: Showed he wasn't afraid to sky for a ball while in traffic, catching it at its highest point in the afternoon session.

Conclusion: Shipley looks like a great slot receiver with a knack for finding the holes in the defense and making yards after the catch while in space. He may need a redshirt year to add that size and strength.

Bubba Starling (DQB), 4-Star, Nebraska commit

Assets: Starling has tremendous height and overall athleticism.

Areas for improvement: He needs to keep his elbow at least at shoulder height while making throws and needs work on not pushing the ball so much.

What was most impressive in practice: Starling demonstrated in the afternoon session what a strong arm and quick feet can do, as he eluded the rush and threw a 30-yard strike while rolling to his right.

Conclusion: This guy is ideal for the spread offense, and though not polished as a passer, he still has better throwing tools than any current Nebraska quarterback. The problem is he may never play college football if he is drafted as high as he is projected in baseball.

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