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December 19, 2010

Shrine Bowl's top performers

MORE: Clowney leads S.C. to big Shrine Bowl win | Best of the Crab Bowl | All-star coverage

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - After falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, the South Carolina squad rolled off 42 unanswered points to dominate the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, 42-10.

Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell breaks down the game's top performers.

Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Top Performers
6-5/220, Summerton (S.C.) Scotts Branch
Adams sure didn't look like he was new to the tight end position. The high school quarterback came from one of the smallest schools represented in the game but had the biggest performance on offense. He caught three touchdown passes and would have had a fourth were it not for a penalty. He totaled 5 catches for 62 yards and three scores and would have been over 100 yards with four scores has they all counted. Adams is a terrific athlete, showed good hands and excellent leaping ability to take the ball away from defenders. As he learns the position more and more, he has a chance to be a special pass-catching threat.

5-9/185, Lake City, S.C.
Carson is a terrific little one-cut runner who bounces off tacklers because he plays with such great natural leverage. At 5 feet 9 he's already a small target but with his low running style, quick feet and his ability to hide behind the offensive line before he finds his crease, he's hard to contain. Carson also has very good balance and vision and he also showed good hands. He'll be a nice fit in South Carolina's offense.

6-6/247, Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe
Clowney was simply impossible to contain when he was on the field. His quickness off the ball is uncanny, his first step is ridiculous and he is very strong and changes direction well. Clowney is also a hustler who runs plays down from behind and doubles back when needed. He had five tackles, three sacks, two tackles for a loss and drew five holding calls that could have easily been double digits. If there is one defensive player in the country that can change a game, it's Clowney and he disrupted everything that the North Carolina offense wanted to do, killing the passing game and setting the tone early in the running game.

6-5/225, Asheville (N.C.) A.C. Reynolds
Councell was all over the field with 13 tackles, a sack and a blocked punt. He has a high motor and is always chasing things down. Many of his tackles came from the backside and even when he's not the first one to make contact, he is usually the second. For a skinny guy, he does well shedding blocks, using his hands to keep his balance and he avoids getting tripped up in traffic. Councell will get even better as he adds weight and strength and will be a great fit in Notre Dame's 3-4 defense.

6-2/235, Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe
Many wonder if Dixon is a product of Clowney and wonder if he would struggle without the nation's best player on the same defensive line. However, he made many of his plays while Clowney wasn't in the game and at other times they met at the quarterback just like in the regular season. Dixon isn't the biggest nor is he the fastest, but he is physical, shocks well with his arms and peels off blocks with ease. He had four tackles in the game but all four of them came in the offensive backfield with two sacks and two tackles for a loss.

6-3/295, Manning, S.C.
Dukes is a tough guy and proved he could either be a 3-4 defense end or a 4-3 defensive tackle with the way he played against the run this week while also providing an excellent pass rush. In the game itself, he had four tackles and two sacks and showed an impressive ability to change direction with the quarterback when he is in pursuit and a quickness off the ball that is surprising for a 280-plus pounder. Fighting off an ankle injury that sidelined him twice this week in practice, Dukes showed no ill affects and was part of a dominating performance on the defensive line.

6-1/200, Wadesboro (N.C.) Anson
Ellerbe had three tackles in the game but makes this list mainly because he scored the only touchdown of the game for the North Carolina team. On his 44-yard interception for a score, he broke on the ball very well, read the quarterbacks intentions and showed he can be an offensive threat when he makes a pick. Ellerbe is an undersized safety as he's smaller than his listed 6-1, 200 pounds, but he plays bigger and he impressed with his big play ability as well as his quickness to the sidelines in running things down.

6-3/210, Matthews (N.C.) Butler
Frost was all over the field for the North Carolina team and showed excellent ability to read and react. Of his first four tackles, three of them led to a loss and he totaled seven tackles overall. Frost was also good in coverage getting good depth on his drops and he made a nice, diving play on a pass breakup on Adams. Frost has plenty of filling out to do like Councell, but he is a terrific athlete, runs very well from sideline to sideline, diagnoses plays quickly and is a big hitter when he arrives at the football. He has just started to scratch the surface of his potential on defense and seems to be finally falling in love with playing linebacker.

5-10/185, Chester, S.C.
Pendergrass is listed as a running back in the Rivals.com database but he should be an athlete because he can play cornerback, safety, slot receiver or running back at the next level. Playing defense in the game, he made big play after big play in addition to his four tackles. He recovered the key fumble on his team's own 2-yard-line with South Carolina down 10-0, he had a huge pass breakup that saved a touchdown and he had a key interception that he returned 32 yards. Pendergrass is also a big hitter for a smaller safety and laid out at least a couple of bigger receivers during the game. His contribution was key for the Sandlappers defense.

6-2/215, Williston (S.C.) Elko
Staley played offense and defense in the game and made his presence felt. On offense he ran for a touchdown and did his best Tim Tebow impression on a jump-pass touchdown to Adams. On defense he forced the key fumble down near his own goal line with his team trailing 10-0, had eight tackles and three for a loss. Staley is a terrific talent and one of the best players in the state and it's a shame that academics might have him playing JUCO ball next year instead of in the SEC or ACC.

6-2/197, Bennettsville (S.C.) Marlboro County
Townsend is still learning how to play under control, but his out-of-control approach is fun to watch and still very effective. On defense he had two tackles including a sack and one for a loss and he also had a quarterback hurry. On offense out of the Wildcat he was very effective, rushing for 71 yards on eight carries with a long of 32. He got the South Carolina rushing attack going early in the game when the Sandlappers were struggling offensively and he also helped wear down the North Carolina defense. His non-stop motor and enthusiasm for the game is contagious and he's the kind of player that will only get better as he learns to diagnose plays on defense and not overcommit.



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