Maurice Canady looks like the favorite to start at the 2nd cornerback spot (Photo Courtesy of Brad Franklin and CavsCorner.com)
Another day of Virginia Football fall camp is in the books. Today, like yesterday, the Cavaliers were in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts. So, what players and moments stood out under the hot sun on Grounds today? Read all about it in today's practice report.
The inevitable quarterback segment:
We'll start today the same way we started yesterday's report, with the signal callers. Today, we got to see a little more quarterback play against a real defense, in some 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 work. Michael Rocco and David Watford took a good deal of the reps today, with Phillip Sims, Matt Johns and Greyson Lambert splitting the remaining snaps. To me, this confirms that the idea of Sims coming right in and taking the job away from the incumbent Rocco is a little absurd. Today, like yesterday, Sims showed that he simply needs more reps with the wide receivers to improve his chemistry with the unit. Overall though, Sims was pretty solid. He makes throws look effortless, something that may make his performances look a little better than they actually are. Rocco was up and down today, hitting on a few nice passes to Tim Smith and others, but sailing some throws, and throwing an interception to Maurice Canady on the first play of 7 on 7. More on that later. David Watford had a bit of a rough day, missing on quite a few throws.
Canady makes a statement
Freshman cornerback Maurice Canady had, in my opinion, the best day of any Cavalier out there. Running with the first-team defense, Canady made a great adjustment on a ball thrown by Rocco to Darius Jennings to snag the pick. After that, he had two more pass breakups in the next 3 or 4 snaps; including one that got the whole defense excited and even Mike London ran over to give Canady some love. Canady has had a pretty remarkable camp, and it looks like he is going to start at the 2nd corner spot, opposite Demetrious Nicholson. The Richmond native definitely has the size already, as he towers over several of the other defensive backs. Personally, I thought Canady had a shot to play this year, but I was blown away by how quickly he has raised his level of play to the college level, passing up veteran corners on the depth chart. Canady could have a great career in Charlottesville, and its worth noting that he only had one other FBS scholarship offer, from East Carolina. This just re-affirms the notion that teams aren't just built by landing blue-chip recruits, but also by great evaluation of under-the-radar types, like Maurice Canady.
Quick note on the kickers
At the end of practice, Virginia's kickers came out and showed off their legs, while Mike London watched closely. Today, Ian Frye showed off the best leg of the group. Frye had the most power on his kicks, and was also the most accurate among the group. Drew Jarrett was the 2nd best kicker, and Dylan Sims was also in the mix. One funny note about this kicker drill was Mike London trying his best to distract the kickers and holder while they got ready to kick. He threw his hat at the ball, jumped up and down, and even laid right down in front of the holder. It was a pretty funny, light moment to end the practice session.
Other random notes
- We haven't mentioned Virginia's top ranked 2012 signee Eli Harold yet, so here goes. Harold looks a little thin for a defensive end, but if he adds some muscle, he's going to be scary. In 11 on 11 drills, he came in and on his first snap, blew right by left tackle Oday Aboushi with a quick speed rush. His first few steps are lethal
- We mentioned the fullbacks yesterday, and we saw some more good stuff from them today. Zack Swanson looks primed to be the starter. At 6'6'' he could be a nice asset as a pass catcher, but also as he can hide many of Virginia's smaller runners as they try to sneak through holes. He also has an amazing beard.
- One last note on fullbacks, its worth noting again that Trent Corney is going to scare some defenders on the edge. He is huge and really fast for his size, and if he can get the pass protections and pass catching aspects of the position down, look out.
- Overall, the starting offensive line looks like a solid group. Expect Virginia's running game to be solid again in 2012.
- Bill Lazor is a great teacher. He is always finding ways to improve a route or a throw, in order to make his offense a well-oiled machine.
- Khalek Shepard is probably my favorite player to watch during these practices. Not only has he shown really well so far this week, he flashes some really nice dance moves out there too.
- 2014 prospect Ricky Walker, the younger brother of defensive back Rijo Walker, was in attendance at The Park today. Dressed head to toe in orange and blue to boot. Walker holds early offers from Virginia Tech and UNC.
- Canaan Severin and the rest of the 2012 wide receiver class were impressive again today. This has a chance to be a special group.
- Running Back Clifton Richardson spent some time on the bike today, as he still look a little banged up out there. Jake McGee was held out of some drills as well, it appears.
- Other players that stood out today were Henry Coley, Kevin Parks and Anthony Harris. Coley had a nice pass breakup, as well as a few really nice pursuits of ball carriers in space. He is expected to start at outside linebacker this year. Parks broke off a few long runs, and showed off solid hands as well. Anthony Harris looks entrenched at one safety spot, and had a nice fumble recovery (Perry Jones was the ball carrier) near the end of practice.
That's it for this edition of today's camp report, stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn for all the latest Cavalier news as the 2012 season kickoff on September 1st draws nearer.