ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A week-long tryout in front of NFL scouts began for three members of Ohio State’s 2017 football team when J.T. Barrett, Chris Worley, Damon Webb and the rest of the East team held their first practice at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday afternoon.
For those three Buckeyes, who all have aspirations of being selected in the 2018 NFL draft, this week is a significant opportunity to raise their draft stocks as they participate in four practices – considered to be the most important part of Shrine Game week – before playing in the actual East-West Shrine Game on Saturday.
Monday’s first practice of the week appeared to be a good start for all three.
Barrett took the first snaps among the East team’s quarterbacks throughout team drills on Monday, and appeared to be the clear standout of a group that also included South Florida’s Quinton Flowers and Memphis’ Riley Ferguson. While the other quarterbacks had more noticeable issues with handling snaps and erratic throws, Barrett looked comfortable while running the offense – all the while dropping back from under center, which he rarely did at Ohio State, and throwing to unfamiliar receivers – and was regularly on-target with his passes.
Barrett wasn’t asked to throw many deep balls on Monday, so he’ll likely be tested more in that regard as the week progresses, and he did make one noticeable mistake when he had a pass that was batted down – and could have been intercepted – by North Carolina State defensive end Kentavius Street in the backfield. Throwing short and intermediate passes, however, Barrett looked sharp.
Worley was maybe the most vocal player on the field on Monday, clearly calling out plays from his middle linebacker position every time he took the field in team drills. The 2017 Ohio State captain was active in demonstrating his leadership before each snap, and was active in pursuit to the ball after each snap as well, getting himself in on numerous plays during 11-on-11 practice.
Worley said he thought his first day of Shrine Game practice went really well, taking into account that he was practicing with a new playbook and different players than he had grown accustomed to at Ohio State.
"I’m playing with whole new guys and it’s a learning experience but at the same time, I’m out here having fun," Worley said.
As for his vocal leadership, Worley said that was just him being himself.
"That’s me," Worley said. "I’m not a silent guy on the field, so when I’m out here, I’m just trying to be me, as much as I can."
Webb spent most of Monday’s practice lining up as a deep free safety, often starting the play as many as 15 yards away from the line of scrimmage, so he didn’t have a lot of action come his way during team drills. He did, however, appear to keep himself in correct position more often than not and play his assignment to the satisfaction of his coaches.
Barrett, Worley, Webb and the East team will return to Shorecrest Prep for their second day of practice at 9:40 a.m. Tuesday. I’ll be there once again providing coverage on here and on Twitter as the Buckeyes continue their audition for NFL scouts.