Week One of all-star play for the 2023 draft class is in the books with the College Gridiron Showcase wrapped and the Hula Bowl set for this weekend. Here are a few things of note that have happened, or that I’ve heard, so far.
- You like long arms on offensive linemen? Then you’ll love South Florida OT Demontrey Jacobs, who turned in 37-inch arms as a member of the CGS Desperadoes roster this week. That’s a full inch-and-a-half longer than any other player in Fort Worth. Special notice also goes to East Carolina WO Isaiah Winstead, who had 33.25-inch arms as a pass-catcher. That’s longer arms than six of the Wranglers offensive linemen. Meanwhile, Illinois St. DT Jason Lewan had the biggest hands at 11.5 inches. The only other player in Fort Worth with an 11-inch hand span was Jacobs (11 inches exactly).
- One of the fun things about all-star season is seeing old friends, but this year was special for me as I got to shake hands with the reigning Indoor Football League Coach of the Year, Les Moss of the IFL’s Northern Arizona Wranglers. Les is more than just a legendary coach in the indoor game, but he was also in the car behind me when, in 1985, my car (a tiny MGB) was hit by a fast-moving coal train in Poca, W.Va. One day I’ll tell the story of that day in this space.
- I also want to say what a pleasure it was working with the member of the 2023 CGSU class. Mike Rittelman and I had the honor of leading 16 aspiring NFL scouts who came to Fort Worth and worked extremely hard over a three-day period. The 16 were Brandon Ashe, Mark Austad, Garrett Ballard, Mike Bey, Davarus Branigan, Gus Christensen, Daniel Docal, John Grout, Dondrell Harris, Michael Joiner, Jordan Kalfon, Joe Luke, Brandon Morris, David Senko, Cardell Rawlings and Brandon Tamres. This group was very tight-knit and worked as a team, just as a football group should. Look for them in NFL front offices some day.
- I also want to thank all the scouts who spoke to our CGSU class, sharing their experiences and providing tips on how to break into the game. Among scouts who spoke to our group were Dom Green (Jets), Eloy Ledesma (Lions), Tom McConnaughey (Jaguars), Bob Morris (USFL’s Gamblers) and Rodrik David (formerly of the Falcons). All of them were very giving of their time and did so without any compensation.
- Kudos also go out to the 13 players who arrived in Fort Worth as part of the Small School Showcase (the Marshals) and fought their way onto the Desperadoes roster after impressing scouts. They were Lincoln DE Arnold Mbembe, Westminster OB Brayden Thimons, La.-Monroe DT Caleb Thomas, Arkansas Tech OH Devontae Dean, Texas A&M-Commerce OB Demetrius Walker, Texas A&M-Commerce DE Celestin Haba, Nevada DE Phillip Huff, Sam Houston St. OT Jordan Boatman, Delta St. OT Nicolas Melsop, SE Oklahoma St. DC Ja’Lon Freeman, Utah Tech FS Darrius Nash, Sam Houston St. WO Cody Chrest and Carson-Newman WO Braxton Westfield.
- I also learned of a new Panthers scouting intern Kaleb Leach, who earned his way to Carolina by developing an overseas scouting service called Europe’s Elite. All week, we preached to the CGSU class that sometimes the road to fulfilling your passion is one that’s less traveled. Going your own way after identifying an underserved market is a great way to succeed in football.
We’ll discuss what’s ahead during the all-star phase of the pre-draft period in today’s Friday Wrap. Register for it here.