By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303
To say that Senior Bowl Executive director Jim Nagy pulled this year’s Reese’s Senior Bowl off is amazing would be an understatement. With all the covid-19 restrictions and adversities we have all had to face, it was a near miracle.
A great amount of gratitude has to be given to the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers who had to put their entire staff through Covid testing and strict quarantine rules. Many of the coaches were telling me days on the field was the first time anyone had left the team hotel.
As we wrap up the senior bowl practice, there is one question that is always asked. Which player took the most of this opportunity to showcase their talents?
Let’s start with the American team coached by the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins’ practices were all about coaching, which is not hard to believe if you know Coach Flores’ background. Practices were serious and every second utilized.
There was no question as to the player is that stood out for the American team. Quinn Meinerz, OL, Wisconsin-Whitewater. This division III player certainly made his presence felt on the field, not to mention he was too hard to miss. Meinerz is a strong, tough guy who gives 110 % on every play. On one play he broke a small bone in his hand, left the field for a short time then came right back on. Sources said he has told coaches that he plans on playing despite the injury.
Notable mentions: Alabama’s top draft prospects wide receiver Devonta Smith and running back Najee Harris both made appearances, with Harris participating only on day 1. However, Harris has since withdrawn and will not play in this Saturday’s game. Smith was still nursing his injury to his finger in the NCAA National Championship game.
Now as for the National team that was coached by the Carolina Panthers, head coach Matt Rhule. They lead a very well-organized team practice, Coach Rhule was injecting himself in leading and coaching a couple of team drills. He is a very hands-on coach. He didn’t just stalk around team positions and watch. He was in on all of it.
Without question, this team has some men up front, led by this year’s Outland Trophy winner, Alex Leatherwood. The 6-foot-6, 312-pound Leatherwood is from Pensacola, Florida. He is projected as a likely first-round pick in April’s NFL draft.
There was another Alabama player that saw a lot of attention, and by one team in particular. The New England Patriots are said to have expressed some interest in quarterback Matt Jones, who by far is the best quarterback on either roster. Jones did tell reporters that he had indeed met with the Patriots. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this guy as your 2021 Senior Bowl MVP.
This year’s Senior Bowl should once again prove beneficial to many of these young men’s lives. With the NFL combine being canceled, this could be their last shot before pro days begin to improve their draft stock.
Talk Dolphins with Lisa on Twitter // @LJ1303