NDSU's Wentz, Buckeyes start strong at Senior Bowl as social media hypes QB

MOBILE, Ala. - Along with Alabama, Ohio State is the most represented college program at the Senior Bowl with five former Buckeyes on the North squad.All five flashed Tuesday during practice, especially wide receiver Braxton Miller and tight end ...

North squad quarterback Carson Wentz of North Dakota State fakes a handoff to running back Tyler Ervin of San Jose State during Senior Bowl practice Tuesday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

MOBILE, Ala. - Along with Alabama, Ohio State is the most represented college program at the Senior Bowl with five former Buckeyes on the North squad.

All five flashed Tuesday during practice, especially wide receiver Braxton Miller and tight end Nick Vannett -- two players who were underutilized on offense at Ohio State.

Editor's note: The Storify below this article will be updated frequently

A former quarterback, Miller made the transition to wide receiver as a senior and continues his development this week in Mobile. While still raw in several areas, Miller is on a different level athletically than the other prospects on the North team. His release off the line, short-area quickness in his breaks and long-speed to create separation routinely stood out on Tuesday. Miller also caught everything his way with elite body control and quick reflexes.

Miller fielded punts during drills and did a nice job tracking and receiving the punt, especially considering he didn't play special teams at Ohio State. The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff spent extra time with him in this area. It's clear that he will need time to develop nuance as a route runner and improve his hand use, but while unpolished, Miller's athleticism is what scouts were buzzing about more than anything else.


With only 19 catches as a senior, Vannett wasn't a main weapon for the Ohio State offense, but he played like one during practice on Tuesday. He doesn't have much shake at the top of routes to create separation, but with his strong hands and focus to finish contested catches, it didn't matter. While this isn't a deep tight end draft class, Vannett could separate himself as the top senior prospect at the position and worthy mid-round pick.

The three other Ohio State players in Mobile this week -- Adolphus Washington, Tyvis Powell and Joshua Perry -- all had positive practices on Tuesday, as did a former teammate at the South practice.

Other North notes:

The main attraction at the Senior Bowl is North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz and he didn't disappoint in the week's first practice. He wasn't perfect, but there was far more good than bad and he showed why there is so much buzz about him as a pro prospect.  Wentz showed off his above average velocity, using his body rhythm and touch to accurately control the placement. The uptick in competition didn't throw off his timing as he was able to quickly set up and fire strikes, as well, completing a variety of passes to unfamiliar targets. Watching  Wentz interact with the Cowboys' coaches and his development throughout the week will be interesting to track but Tuesday was a strong first statement, especially with the North's other quarterbacks -- Southern Cal's Cody Kessler, Stanford's Kevin Hogan and Louisiana Tech's Jeff Driskel -- struggling in comparison.

Wentz wasn't the only NDSU prospect standing out Tuesday as left tackle Joe Haeg showed impressive balance, agility and strength in pass protection against a talented North defensive line. Like his quarterback, Haeg came to Mobile needing to prove himself against FBS competition. He did precisely that, competing with Indiana's much higher-rated Jason Spriggs to emerge as the North's most consistent pass blocker Tuesday.

  • Wentz  impressed with his ball placement, although he and the rest of the North's quarterbacks had several passes batted away by an aggressive secondary. With the Dallas coaches rather than referees "officiating" the practice, cornerbacks were not surprisingly a bit hands-on with receivers with several riding would-be pass-catchers throughout their routes. Temple's Tavon Young showed terrific timing and closing speed to break up multiple passes, ripping at the ball as it arrived. At just 5-9 3/8 and 180 pounds, Young isn't imposing but he is scrappy, projecting best as a nickel or dime defender in the NFL.
  • Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Vernon Butler was a tough man to contain in one-on-one drills, using his short area quickness and powerful upper body to force his way to the pocket. His long arms allow him to rag doll blockers once he gets them off-balance.
    Dane Brugler is senior analyst for, operated and distributed by The Sports Xchange in cooperation with Senior analyst Rob Rang contributed to this report.

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