SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst head coach Tony Severino has been coaching football for more than 41 years. Last year alone, Severino had 14 former players playing college football and he’s had four players go on to play in the NFL He’s also been on the coaching staff at the US Army All-American Bowl for the past two seasons.
Ondre Pipkins was a name at the top of Severino's list of top performers.
For his third season in San Antonio, Severino has taken over the reins as the head coach of the West squad but with his background, there’s no reason to be star struck by the talent. The seven-time Missouri Coach of the Year has seen talent before and knows what he sees but is still excited about the group he’s had a chance to coach this week ad the potential that Saturday’s game holds.
In 2010, his team featured the likes of Ronald Powell, Robert Woods and Owamagbe Odighizuwa. In 2010, Malcolm Brown, Steve Edmond, George Farmer and Odell Beckham Jr. were among the standouts. The 2012 version compares favorably to both.
“Each team seems to have its own personality,” Severino said. “The first year I was here, they were a little more self-entitled and a little bit more high maintenance but very talented. Last year’s group probably wasn’t as good of athletes but they were great every day kids. This year’s group has kind of got a combination of both. They’re very very good young men and they’re very good athletes.”
Coach Severino took some time to talk with 247Sports and broke down some of the personnel that has been standing out this week, not only as compared to the 2012 class but also to the other groups he’s coached.
On the quarterbacks:
“Cyler (Miles) is probably going to be the guy to get the first call but Tyler (Matthews) and Zeke (Pike) have both done a great job. They each posses different qualities.
“Cyler is more of a dual-threat guy. I think the other two guys are more of pro-style guys. They’re there and I think there all kind of getting it. We’re trying to build a phase for each of these guys so that they can have some success.”
On the running backs:
Cyler Miles is the likely starter for Saturday.
“It is a unique group There’s no big back. That’s the thing that’s kind of surprising. Last year we had the big backs like Malcolm Brown, this year we’ve got the little scat backs and I’ll tell you what they’re fun to watch.
“They’ve done a great job. I’m really interested to see the Trey Williams kid. If he can do in a game what he’s shown us in practice I’ll be excited. He makes those cuts. He’s got great vision. He sees things that some of the other backs don’t see. And he’s got that great personality.
“I told him (Williams) he reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles (former Kansas State all-purpose back and current New Orleans Saint). I coached against Darren Sproles when he was in high school and I’ve always thought Darren was the best back to come out of Kansas City but this kid is so similar. “
On the wide receivers:
We were anxious to see how Dorial (Green-Beckham) was going to perform on this stage. I’ve seen him on tape in his high school coaching in Missouri and he plays in a smaller school, one class lower and not the greatest competition and your thinking, ‘ok, let’s just see where he’s at’. But I‘ll tell you what he hasn’t disappointed us.
On the offensive skill:
“We’ve got a lot more flexibility. We feel we’re a lot more versatile than we were a year ago. We’ve got a lot more skill on the perimeter, a little bit quicker in the backfield and we think our combination of quarterbacks gives us a little bit better threat. And I think we’re a little bit better up front.
“The defensive lines are who usually dominate this game. They’re the ones that you worry the most about no matter how good your offensive line is and we think this (offensive line) group is a little bit better than last year”
On the offensive line:
“We kind of like them all. The (Mike) Matthews kid at center is kind of our leader in there.
“We really like Zach Banner. We think Zach Banner is going to be a pro. He’s got all the tools, great feet, lots of length and he’s a really smart kid. He’s a guy that we’re really anxious to see him play. He’s got to be able to control those defensive ends for the East side or it isn’t going to matter what we can do on offense.”
On the defensive font:
“The front, the defensive line, the kids are so athletic and they have so little to learn so you can just turn them loose with their athletic ability.
“The Ondre Pipkins kid in the middle has really been impressive but all of those kids have really done a good job of reading blocks and picking up what we’re trying to do. He’s the one guy that I think has been the most impressive of the group.”
On the No. 1 player in the nation, Arik Armstead:
Severino was asked how Armstead was playing as a defensive end when so many people project him as an offensive tackle
“It’s interesting you say that because if I had to look at him…I could probably answer that question a lot better after Saturday because looking at him, he’s a left tackle in the NFL. But he is determined to be a defensive lineman and I hope he is. I’ll see how he plays against this quality on Saturday and I’ll be able to answer that but I hope he dominates and I hope we’re al wrong.
“I hope everybody is wrong but I really think he will end up at offensive tackle but I can’t convince him of it. I couldn’t even get him to step over for two or three plays over there.”
On the linebackers:
“I think that’s one of our most talented groups. I love Jabari Ruffin. I love James Ross. They’re just all pretty dang good. Royce (Jenkins-Stone) and all those guys are pretty fun to watch after just four practices and not really knowing them when they got here. They’re impressive.”
On the defensive backs:
“Shaq Thompson is a pro. He’s a guy someday that I’ll watch on TV and say I had the opportunity to coach him. He’s a pro. Kevon Seymour has been awesome. Of course with (Sam Houston head coach and West defensive coordinator) Gary Green back there coaching them, they’re getting some great coaching back there. But Seymour has such great hips.”