January 11, 2005

Michigan pledge getting kick out of all-star game

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - With all the attention focused on big name players from the East squad like Patrick Turner and Kenneth Phillips, two of the more under appreciated players in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl are kickers Zoltan Mesko of Twinsburg, Ohio, and Matthew Waldron of Oakfield, N.Y. Both players really boomed the ball on Tuesday at practice and Mesko, a Michigan commitment, displayed the leg of a future NFL prospect.

Mesko, who is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, could easily pass for a defensive end prospect, and while he's strong in stature he's equally as strong with his booming leg. It's no shocker at all that teams like Indiana, Northwestern and even national champion USC offered him scholarship before he pledged to the Wolverines.

Want proof how strong Mesko's leg is?

While the offense and defense were going full bore in a scrimmage, Mesko and Waldron were on the other side of the field practicing kickoffs and punts. Mesko went to the edge of the track surrounding the field and was kicking the ball across the 45-yard field. The ball time after time would said all the way across the field and then into the stands, which was a good 10-yards off the field.

In total, he was easily banging out 60 yard punts without much effort.

And it's his effortless form that also makes him a sure-fire candidate for one of the top kickers in the nation when Rivals.com updates its rankings in late January. Mesko was very fluid and smooth in his punts and there were no hitches or wasted movements. He would also get the punts off very quickly, which is a must when the rush is on.

Mesko averaged 43.6 yards per punt during his senior season with a long of 68 yards. Mesko also connected on eight of 12 field goals with his long coming from 47 yards.

Waldron, who isn't getting a ton of Division I attention, but probably should, was also very efficient with his field goal attempts and kickoffs. He has a very solid leg and some college coach probably should take a chance on this kid because he will not disappoint.

INJURY REPORT
Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe limped off the field late in practice on Tuesday with what at the time looked like it might have been a pretty serious knee injury. However, after some ice and some rest on it, the five-star offensive tackle reported that he just strained a patella tendon in his knee and should be able to return to practice by tomorrow if he wants to.

"I'm fine," Monroe said. "It's mainly a precaution. I'll be out there again tomorrow. You can't keep me off the field."

Running back Elan Lewis suffered on Monday what looked like a serious knee injury too and the four-star standout heading to Virginia Tech was noticeably still in pain all day on Tuesday, but he did deliver some good news for Hokie fans that were on pins and needles.

"I had an MRI," he said. "It ended up just being a sprained left knee. I'll probably be back at practice no later than Thursday and probably tomorrow if I have my way."

The nation's No. 1 receiver, Fred Rouse, also underwent an MRI on Tuesday, and his results brought back good news. Rouse said he had just a sprained ankle and should be able to get back on the field probably tomorrow.

"There's nothing that's going to hold me back," Rouse said. "I can't let (Patrick) Turner get all the glory."

CATCHES OF THE DAY
While Turner has been drawing all the attention for his ability to dominate practices for the East, Conway, S.C., four-star receiver Eric Huggins had the best two catches of the day.

The first circus catch came in seven-on-seven passing drills when he was teamed against cornerback Victor Harris. Huggins streaked down the left sideline and quarterback Jake Christensen lofted a pass to him that was first tipped by Harris. Huggins then left his feel and dived horizontally and snared the ball off the ground for the great catch.

Huggins then had another circus catch when he had to stop in his tracks on an under-thrown slip screen pass. He had to twist his body almost all the way around to the right to make the catch. Then immediately after the catch, he turned the jets on for another 15 yards.

Turner, Huggins' roommate in San Antonio, also had a few impressive coaches. His prettiest reception came when he beat the defender on a straight streak route. Crompton lofted the ball up to him for about 40 yards and Turner effortlessly jumped over the defender and then came down with the touchdown catch.

CROMPTON TAKES OVER
After two days of practice it looks like Crompton has solidified his spot at the top quarterback for the East. While both Jake Christensen and Greg Paulus have had some great moments throughout the first two days, Crompton just seems to have the extra advantage.

His passes have seemingly connected with more receivers and his 6-foot-3, 211-pound frame allow him to see the ball over the extremely tall East offensive line. He also seems surer in his fundamentals with great drops and flawless technique.

Crompton's parents are attending practices this week decked out in their Tennessee Volunteer gear and there is no question that they should be proud of their son. And so should Vol fans. Crompton was spotted between practices and on the sidelines talking to Turner and several other Vol targets. While it might not have all been recruiting talk, it was impressive to see him show his skills as a future leader.

TIDBITS
-Florida State fans will love to know that the East coaches are using Michael Ray Garvin on split screens like crazy and it's looks freaky once he gets the ball.

-Bryan Evans has looked good, but struggled a little in the seven-on-seven drills and was burned twice. Doing the toasting once was Iowa commitment Trey Stross, who also beat the East defensive backs earlier in the day on a long post pattern for a touchdown and finished the day with three scores in seven-on-seven drills.

-Tennessee commit Demetrice Morley spent some time at receiver, however, the defensive coaches made it known how bad they want him on that side of the ball. Every time a defensive drill would start they would yell at Morley to get over there with him.

-Defensive lineman Earl Heyman and Melvin Alaeze were the top two defensive linemen at practice on Tuesday. Alaeze was honestly the only one that could beat the best East linemen time after time with his amazing quickness and great bull rush, but Heyman continues to impress, showing why he is no longer considered one of the biggest sleepers in the nation.


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