SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Through two days of practice at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl in preparation for Saturday's game, East coach Robert Weiner of Tampa (Fla.) Plant is very excited about what he's seen from his team, especially the defensive line.
Five-star defensive lineman Darius Hamilton has caught his coach's eye.
The first prospect Weiner mentioned on Wednesday when chatting about his team was Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep five-star Darius Hamilton, who has a top three of California, Florida and Rutgers, with Miami still hanging around in the picture.
"Certainly you look at Darius Hamilton on defense," Weiner began. "We've done a great job on our offensive line of really starting to understand concepts and things like that, and he's just been a handful. He's so fast. I always thought defensive linemen here are kind of the best athletes. It's kind of like putting skill players in linemen bodies, and he's been really tremendous."
Weiner added that Ohio State defensive tackle pledge Tommy Schutt has also performed well among the group.
"He's a great run stopper, really a hole-plugger in the middle of the field."
"Those are kids that are really, really athletic," Weiner stated. "In run, our guys are trying to get to the second level on offense to block them, and they're already in a whole nother place and you can't get to them."
Weiner is very familiar with Hollywood (Fla.) Miramar cornerback Tracy Howard, having beaten him and his team in the state finals this season. Now he's excited to be coaching him instead of preparing to play against Howard, who is currently favoring Florida, Florida State, LSU and USC.
"Tracy is a tremendous player and really has a good work ethic out there, and is a leader," Weiner said.
Five-star QB Gunner Kiel has impressed with his pocket presence, footwork and arm strength.
"What Gunner is really good at is he's very, very stout in the pocket," Weiner began. "He has great footwork to put himself in position to make a throw, and of course he has an arm that can make all the throws right now in college. He would be a guy just arm wise ready to go. We always look at, can he throw the 18-yard out from the opposite hash, and he can make that throw.
"Anthony is a dual-threat, and sometimes you say that and you overlook the fact dual-threat means you can throw it. He threw a pass yesterday, we were on the goal line, and we threw a speed out, a little rub route against man, and it was a laser he threw for a touchdown yesterday.
"Chad is the full package as well. He's a guy who is very athletic and is really strong as well. He's a guy you can't really get him off balance. He can get himself moving in and out of the pocket."
Weiner's offensive line has had the challenge of blocking Hamilton, Schutt and company in practice, and he thinks they've held up well.
"We have several great linemen," Weiner said. "I've been really impressed with (Florida commit) D.J. Humphries and (Oklahoma commit) Ty Darlington. They've been really stout up front along with some of the other guys."
Weiner says there is a lot of big-play ability when it comes to his skill guys on offense.
"(Florida tight end commit) Kent Taylor is a guy you can attach or leave him out wide. We're going to leave him out wide a little bit for the most part, so you end up getting mismatches on him.
"Our two running backs, Mike Davis and (Vanderbilt commit) Brian Kimbrow, have really been great throughout the week. Davis is a little more of a power back."