MOBILE, Ala. – The first day of practices at the Senior Bowl are in the books. Here's a fresh batch of observations from both the North and South practices on Tuesday:
Real deal: Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is the highest graded prospect here this week, and he showed why on Tuesday. His combination of size (6-5, 249), speed and hands is rare. He made two one-handed catches and a fabulous over-the-shoulder catch on a deep ball during practice. He's an impressive player.
Big and small: The participants in the this year's Senior Bowl began their work week Tuesday morning at the official weigh-in. USC offensive tackle Zach Banner showed that he hasn't missed many meals in his lifetime. He measured in at 6-foot-8, 361 pounds. Louisiana Tech receiver Trent Taylor measured in at 5-foot-7 and 177 pounds. He's the shortest player here, but not the lightest. That honor goes to Memphis kicker Jake Elliott, who tipped the scales at 166 pounds at 5-foot-9.
Michigan men: The afternoon North practice seemed like an Ann Arbor reunion of sorts. Seven former Wolverines are on the North roster, which has to be some kind of record. WR Amara Darboh, LB Ben Gedeon, DT Ryan Glasgow, G Kyle Kalis, CB Jourdan Lewis, RB De'Veon Smith, and DE Chris Wormley are all trying to impress pro teams this week.
Where again?: If I asked which state Kutztown University resided in, how many people would know the answer without hesitation? Liars. Guard Jordan Morgan Jr. is representing Kutztown University, a Division II program from the great state of Pennsylvania this week. He was the recipient of the 2016 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award. He's been invited to the NFL Combine, and is one of just six players in Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference history to be invited to the Senior Bowl.
Impressive corner: LSU's Tre'Davious White returned to school for his senior season so he could better understand the mental aspect of what it took to play cornerback at the next level before he made the jump to the pros. Good decision. White recorded the first interception of the week off Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs, and nearly had two more in one-on-one drills against receivers. On Day 1, he appeared to be a step quicker than everyone else.
Not there yet: These batch of prospects are training to be pro players, but they're not there yet. Watching the South practice 7-on-7 drills is a perfect example. During a Matthew Stafford run 7-on-7 drill, the ball will rarely touch the ground. The South offense started their drill having to scramble and throw the ball away. I'll remind you there's no pass rush in a 7-on-7 drill. The ball hit the ground nearly a dozen more times in the drill. It's safe to say the defense is ahead of the offense early on here in Mobile, at least when it comes to the South team.
Showcase skills: Forrest Lamp (6-3, 305) was a standout tackle at Western Kentucky, but most projections have him playing guard in the NFL. That's the great thing about the Senior Bowl. Unlike the Scouting Combine, which is basically players running around in shorts, this week is all about the practice time. It gives scouts and coaches the opportunity to put players like Lamp at both guard and tackle throughout the week to see where he fits best. For Lamp, and others like him, it's an opportunity to show their versatility. Lamp was good at both left tackle and left guard on Tuesday.
Production points: Connor Harris didn't go to a big school (Lindenwood). He also didn't measure as the most stout of linebackers (5-11, 241) at the Senior Bowl. But his production certainly outmatched both the size of his school and his own size. Harris won the Cliff Harris Award as the nation's top defensive player among NCAA Division II, Division III, and NAIA programs this past season. Harris finished his career with 633 total tackles, including 323 solo stops. He's the only player to ever pass the 600-tackle mark. He stood out at Tuesday's North practice when he recorded an interception in 7-on-7 drills and returned it for a touchdown.