While it was 80-degrees and beautiful outside, most of the action took place on Tropicana Field as the first practice for the 2020 Shrine Bowl got underway. The East took the field first for a crisp 60-minute pads practice which included some good performances.

James Morgan of Florida International was the most efficient and accurate quarterback of the first practice. His pass placement was impressive, as was the timing of his throws. He did not have receivers waiting for the ball, hit targets in stride, and moved the chains in full scrimmage. His ability to drive deep passes with any speed or power is a concern.

That wasn’t a concern for Princeton’s Kevin Davidson who showed great arm strength but really came up short with his accuracy. Many of his throws were all over the place.

South Carolina’s running back Tavien Feaster displayed surprising quickness for a bigger back, making defenders miss, running solid routes, and catching the ball well.

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Several wide receivers stand out

As I mentioned on Twitter, Navy’s Malcolm Perry looked like a duck in water at the receiver position. He ran great routes, caught the ball exceptionally well, and displayed excellent traits in open-air drills as well as one-on-ones. I’m told Perry will also get action at running back as the week progresses. I have been informed that Perry is on the fence for receiving enough votes to get a combine invitation.

Berry College’s Mason Kinsey did much of the same and looked natural catching the ball. He lacks deep speed – or at least did not show the ability to be a vertical threat – which may be an issue come draft day.

The two Florida receivers, Freddie Swain and Josh Hammond, both looked solid.

I thought Aaron Parker of Rhode Island had an inconsistent day. His route running was choppy and slow, while he did a bit of double catching and bobbling throws. Parker is not expected to receive a combine invitation.

Offensive line observations

On the offensive line front, I was impressed with Buffalo’s Evin Ksiezarczyk. He’s a mammoth blocker who controls opponents once he gets his hands on them. Though I grade him as a right tackle, he did a solid job all day on the left side.

Michael Onwenu of Michigan is big, powerful and had moments of domination. There were also times when Onwenu was overextending into blocks and struggled to contain opponents. Onwenu will be going to the combine.

Offensive linemen Jake Benzinger of Wake Forest and Steve Gonzalez of Penn State also had their moments.

The defensive side of the ball

Missouri S&T defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton looked quick, explosive, and beat a lot of blockers all day. He’s also small, but I could see him as a potential three-technique tackle on Sundays.

I was super impressed with West Georgia’s Auzoyah Alufohia. He has terrific size, power, and was collapsing the pocket all day.

Michigan’s Mike Danna looks the part and showed a nice degree of athleticism. He had several nice plays during one-on-one drills and beat opponents throughout the day.

Myles Dorn was – well Myles Dorn. He is well-sized and explosive, but the North Carolina safety gave up a ton of underneath receptions and is very late reacting.

Oklahoma cornerback Parnell Motley struggled.

We rarely see Alabama players at the Shrine Game, but several are in attendance this year including safety Shyheim Carter who made a lot of nice plays throughout practice. He really stood out in the defensive backfield.

As I stated on Twitter, Rodney Clemons made several nice plays against the pass which compliments his run defending prowess.

Mike Maccagnan had a history of attending Shrine practices when he was general manager of the New York Jets. Joe Douglas is keeping up that tradition, as the “new” general manager was here today in St. Petersburg, Florida.