HOUSTON - The Offense-Defense Bowl practices saw a little more action in their second day on Friday as much of the installation was done on Thursday. 247Sports was on and for both teams and here are the top five players who impressed the most from the American squad on Friday.
Indiana commit Rashard Fant has impressed his peers at both cornerback and receiver.
QB Danny Etling, Terre Haute (Ind.) South Vigo – The Purdue commitment is not the highest-ranked quarterback in the game but he has been the best through two days so far. Etling is not a huge presence in the pocket at 6-foot-2.5 and 210 pounds but he is big enough to see over the line and make very good reads.
Etling is comfortable sitting in the pocket and is able to check down off of his primary receiver – something that is not always easy for high school quarterbacks to do. He is enrolling at Purdue in two weeks and he has a chance to earn very early playing time with a solid performance this spring.
DE Dimarya Mixon, Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite – Though currently listed as a defensive tackle, the Missouri pledge is playing end and will almost assuredly do so in college as well. At 6-foot-3, 265 pounds he still is explosive off the edge and provided headaches to the offensive linemen all day Friday.
Mixon is relatively new to football and has improved every year since moving to Texas from California. With his combination of size and athleticism, some of the in-state schools may regret not targeting him.
WR/CB Rashard Fant, Fairburn (Ga.) Our Lady of Mercy – The Indiana pledge certainly does not stick out much on the hoof at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds but he is a playmaker on both sides of the ball. Though primarily spending his time at wide receiver this week, he also did some one-on-one drills on defense and proved to be very good in coverage. When he gets the ball in space on offense he is dangerous as well.
Fant was a player who had a lot to gain this week and, so far, he has proven himself worthy of a higher ranking than his current two-star status. He is likely to play cornerback for the Hoosiers and once he adds some weight and strength he should thrive in the Big Ten.
OC Brad North, Allen (Texas) High – The Northwestern commit has taken most of the snaps at center so far and has drawn rave reviews from the coaches. He is incredibly sound fundamentally and uses his hands well against the interior defensive linemen. He has a strong lower body as well that allows him to be a good drive blocker in the run game.
North came onto the scene this past spring after playing tackle as a junior. He is one of two centers committed to Northwestern in this class but the other one – Tyler Lancaster – actually expects to play defensive tackle when he arrives on campus.
CB Tavares Garner, Manvel (Texas) High – The Texas A&M pledge is one of the biggest corners in the game and he uses his size to his advantage, jamming receivers at the line and not easily getting beat on the fade route. He has always been strong against the run but is proving this week that he can play man coverage as well.
Garner’s junior film was mostly him making big hits in the running game but he impressed this spring as coaches came through his school. The former Texas Tech commit received a ton of new offers before switching to Texas A&M. He earned second-team all-state honors as a senior after picking off five passes.