December 14, 2007

Ala.-Miss. Notebook: The other receiver

MOBILE, Ala. - DeAndre Brown is a 6-foot-6 210 pound wide receiver out of Ocean Springs, Mississippi who catches the ball with ease and has speed to boot. Julio Jones out of Foley, Ala. is college-ready wide receiver who is rated by as the No. 2 prospect in the nation.

Now meet Simmie Yarborough and Dekendrick Moncrief. Yarborough has emerged as the second receiving option on the Mississippi all-star team heading into the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game. Moncrief plays the same role for Alabama. Through four practices, Yarborough and Moncrief have proven that anyone who intends to place any extreme focus on the top two wide receivers in the game runs the risk of getting burned.

Yarborough is a 6-foot-2 200-pounder out of Brookhaven, Miss. He has been flying under the recruiting radar with scholarship offers from Southeastern and Northwestern State but has been making the most of his opportunities this week. Playing alongside Brown, Yarborough has shown a natural ability to catch the ball, crisp routes and the ability to make both the spectacular and the routine catch.

"It's been fun playing across from DeAndre," Yarborough said. "That's a character right there. He makes plays, we makes plays together. I know what I can do and I know what I'm capable of."

Yarborough had just over 20 catches his senior year in a run-heavy offense but caught nine of them for touchdowns. He is also a terrific student holding a 3.9 GPA. He is also hearing from Arkansas State and Purdue but really hopes to see Ole Miss and Mississippi State come along with an offer.

Moncrief has had slightly more college interest thus far in the recruiting process. He has several offers from major programs including Auburn, UAB, Ole Miss and Iowa State. He has also had the opportunity to emerge is the primary receiving option for the Alabama team.

With Jones sitting out of practice all day Friday with turf toe, Moncrief became the favorite target of quarterbacks Casey Weston and Barrett Trotter. At 5-foot-11, Moncrief has a knack for getting open and making tough catches. However, even with Jones going full speed, Moncrief has been very productive. In fact, Moncrief sees Jones as just another teammate.

"He's just another guy to me," Moncrief said.

Utility men

Two of the top all-around athletes on either team are Alabama's Burton Scott out of Vigor, Ala. and Alonzo Lawrence out of George County, Misss. Both coaching staffs have recognized the many tools in each players belt and look to be finding a way to keep them on the field.

Scott has been the most impressive defensive back for the Alabama team but that is just where it begins. The athlete is lining up at wide receiver for the offense. He will be returning both kicks and punts and is even tabbed as the personal protector for the punt protection team.

Lawrence has a similar role. The cornerback has been making numerous plays in the defensive backfield but has been getting a heavy workload on the offensive side of the ball at receiver as well. Lawrence also will be returning both kickoffs and punts.

It is a good thing both players played very active roles during their high school season and will be ready to wear the multitude of hats.

Speed to burn

One of the most noticeable elements to the defenses of both the Mississippi and the Alabama roster is speed, particularly at the linebacker position. The two players that encompass that element the best are Alabama's William Green and Mississippi's Marlon Walls.

Through the first two days of practice both Walls and Green have wreaked havoc on the offensive backfield, particularly on quarterback rushes and runs away. Walls has been most difficult to deal with on pass rush drills. The Mississippi offensive line has yet to find a solution to his speed rush off the edge. Green on the other hand has chased down play after play on runs away from him.

While Walls is a thick, muscular athlete, Green has a very long and athletic body, but there is no missing the resemblance when it comes to foot speed. In full-contact gameday situations, it will be interesting to see whether a physical demeanor will follow.

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