MOBILE, Ala. –The level of physicality took a step forward on Wednesday as both the North and the South teams geared up in full pads. Ken Whisenhunt's North team practiced at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in the morning with the South following in the afternoon.
There were a number of standout players on both teams. Here are the most memorable notes on the day.
• Sean Mannion had a much-improved day on Wednesday on all accounts. The Oregon State QB hit Stanford WR Ty Montgomery on a contested ball in the back of the end zone for a long touchdown.
• Tuesday's star Jamison Crowder continued his impressive play. He made an acrobatic catch on a comeback route in the 1v1 portion of practice, diving to his right to make the full-extension grab.
• Michigan State WR Tony Lippett continues to display his fluid skills as a receiver. At 6-3, he's the tallest receiver on the North squad along with Washington State's Vince Mayle. Lippett consistently creates separation and on one play, showed a quick burst after making a catch, spinning away from his mark for a free pass into the end zone.
• Washington pass rusher Hau'oli Kikaha showed well in the 1v1 drills against TE's and RB's. On one rep, Kikaha spun by a tight end, leaving him flat-footed, while Kikaha got into the backfield.
• Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford claimed the first big run of the day, finding a big hole for an easy 20-yard touchdown. It was one of the few times that the North team running backs had much of a running lane to work with.
• Devin Smith of Ohio State made an impressive play on a wide receiver screen, setting up his blocks and bursting into the secondary. Titans wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson was visibly pleased with the effort and ran to congratulate Smith following the play. Later in 7v7 drills, Smith showed off his touted speed, burning a corner deep left for a touchdown from Mannion. Mannion hit Smith's back shoulder where only his receiver could catch it.
• Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond is trying to stake his claim as the best safety at the Senior Bowl. His standout play Wednesday came on a pass to a TE into the left flat. Drummond showcased his closing speed and made the stop right as the receiver caught the ball.
• Linebacker Jeff Luc from Cincinnati made the most noticeable defensive play in the team drills, exploding into the backfield and hitting Ameer Abdullah three yards behind the line of scrimmage on a running play.
• Running back David Cobb of Minnesota impressed again on Wednesday. He had two big plays during team drills. On one, he ran a screen to perfection, setting up his blocks and getting to the second level. On the other, he took a delayed handoff up the middle, showed his patience in the secondary, again setting up his blocks, then cut the run outside for a big gain.
• Ameer Abdullah wouldn't be outdone though. The Nebraska running back took a stretch play to the let for a big gain, getting the corner and turning the ball up field after outrunning several linebackers and defensive linemen.
• The standout player throughout practice was Miami TE Clive Walford, who continually burned linebackers and safeties that tried to cover him in the 1v1 drills. He displayed a wide catch radius and even the athleticism to leave his feet and make a diving catch. On one route in particular, he shook a linebacker on a skinny post so bad that Walford had 7-10 yards of separation on his way to the end zone.
• The QB's and WR's were in a rhythm throughout the 1v1 portion. Tyler Lockett from Kansas State in particular was a player who stood out. He showed route after route that nobody could keep up with him, gaining separation on each one. He and Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson hooked up twice on deep routes for touchdowns.
• WR's Sammie Coates and Rannell Hall were also seen early and often during South practice.
• Miami WR Phillip Dorsett made similar impressions that Crowder made during North practice. Dorsett is small at 5-9, but electric with the ball in his hands and possesses elite breakaway speed. He is likely the fastest player at the entire Senior Bowl. He also made a fine leaping catch on the sideline, high-pointing the ball away from the cornerback in coverage
• Maybe the most entertaining drill in full pads are the 1v1 drills in the trenches with offensive and defensive linemen. Each player got so many reps that most guys got a few wins. Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio seemed to be the offensive linemen that held up best.
• Owamagbe Odighizuwa of UCLA, Lynden Trail of Norfolk State, Gabe Wright of Auburn, and Trey Flowers of Arkansas were all defensive linemen that stood out in the 1v1's.
• None of which however, were as impressive as Louisville's Lorenzo Mauldin, who seemed to win his matchups with ease more often than not. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday that they've had to tone back Mauldin's physicality in practice but he looks forward to unleashing him in the game on Saturday. Mauldin also blew up a TE screen in the team drills.
Titans coaches lead the North team on Day 3 of the 2015 Reese's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. (Photos: Gary Glenn)