Observations from BITR 2016


The 2016 Edition of Bull in the Ring is complete, and we’ve given you quite a bit to digest already–but we thought we’d try to add a little more food for thought to your plates from a somewhat different angle than what’s been produced. Below are a collection of random observations coupled with a few guys that simply could not be ignored in terms of their efforts and potential impacts this spring and heading into the fall.

If Ignite and all of the E7 events are about showcasing the physical skill sets, this here Bull in the Ring thing is all about what lies between the ears and underneath the chest plate more than it is anything else. From carrying the weights to the tug-o-war, this event is awesome in the sense it gives coaches and evaluators a much deeper look into the drives and desires of these athletes. The willingness to keep going beyond the normal realms of pain tolerance is on full display and the overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment on the faces of the young men pushing through and finishing insanely difficult events is something that never gets old to witness.

Something else that’s uniquely different from the “normal” camping sessions is the group aspect with the units–not individuals–having to work together and attempt to all work in unison and accomplish the task. Although the 7-on-7’s in the camps may serve a purpose in some regard of everyone being on the same page, the team events at BITR give the coaching staffs so much insight into how their chemistry may need to be tweaked–or embraced. It’s not as simple as saying “go push sled” or “go pull rope” and expect that not to backfire when the competition gets going. Several coaches raved on Sunday about the events showing them what needed to be worked on with their trenches beyond just the weight room and film study–and that’s an awesome discovery to make when it’s April and not August or September and perhaps a little too late to make changes.


Listen, we all know that bench pressing a tractor-trailer is cool and all, but if we had a nickel for every instance we heard that instruction given, we’d be swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck. Time-and-time again, if someone was beaten on the play–mainly, offensive lineman–this was the main (and valid) criticism. Possessing “sweet feet” is not just a trait for the glamour-and-glitz guys at the skill positions. The name-of-the-game is still based on MOVING to a spot and not reaching or grabbing. Now, we don’t expect to see an influx of gargantuan’s signing up for ballet anytime soon, but you’d better believe that in this day-and-age, those defensive ends and tackles move like running backs and receivers and the one way to counteract that speed is to be waiting on them and THEN using that massive strength to your advantage.

Well, we mean legs AND feet in this case. The ONLY way to win at the game of tug-o-war is to use your lower body. We still see teams insisting that their upper bodies are going to win this battle for them. Nope. Nyet. Nada. Not happening. The teams that always do the best at this particular event are the ones who look like their crawling backwards and simply are bringing their opponents along fir the ride. This event is always fun because it goes against the conventional wisdom and sometimes it’s not the strongest man still standing.


The only thing nicer than the easterly winds that saved us from an early-April heatstroke, was the camaraderie displayed throughout the events. We made brief mention about team and unit chemistry with regards to performing well at this event, but the motivation to perform well was there from teams all across the board in the form of everyone supporting each other regardless of the program. There were countless moments from the cone pick-ups to the sled push and the tug-o-war where teams that are normally rivals were actively and aggressively cheering for their fellow humans. Of course, there was the usual teammates cheering for their own, but when you’ve got 20-30 guys standing around cheering for a dude they might not even know or one that attends a rival school all day, then you know the day is only going to end up with positive vibes and an authentic spirit of support throughout everyone that was there. That’s what this is all about, folks.

An abbreviated list of guys who left a lasting impression on us this past Sunday going into the spring:

East Lake TE/DE Josh Fletcher (6-6/224) -Class of 2017
Fletcher caught 11 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown last season and although he is likely to figure more on the offensive side of the ball has the athletic ability to play DE for certain and at that size moves very fluidly. Watching Fletcher runs through his obstacle course in under twenty seconds was quite impressive.

Northeast DE Marcel Scott (6-3/200) -Class of 2017
Scott had 30 tackles and an interception for the Vikings last season and has great size to boot, but we are highlighting him for one simple reason–he showed some of the best leadership at the entire camp. Scott never walked away from his cone pick-up station and stayed to motivate every single person in the drill whether they were one of his teammates from Northeast or not. That trend continued throughout the entire day.

Largo DE Bobby Roundtree (6-5/215) -Class of 2017
Roundtree’s numbers last season—45 tackles–5 sacks–2PD’s–blocked punt, put him on several radars once coaches got to see his frame go with them, but Roundtree’s speed out of his stance in 1-on-1’s was simply fantastic all afternoon once we got to those stations and his morning sessions were just as impressive.

Alonso DE Cole Watts (6-1/180) -Class of 2017
Watts had a very nice season for himself last year with 31 tackles–19 solo–2 sacks–PD–caused fumble–2 recovered fumbles, but he’s added a few more pounds of muscle to that 180-pound frame of his and looks like he is ready to take on a completely different role this season for the Ravens if he continues to show those skills and stays in the weight room.

Boone DE/OLB Sean Phinn (6-1/215) -Class of 2017
Phinn is a physical specimen and was another one of those young men showcasing as much leadership skills as his physical acumen. Watch Phinn’s tape and you’ll see that pretty much everything he hits goes down in a heap and his speed and footwork were actually what caught our attention. Needless to say the Braves have a very good prospect on their hands with Phinn.

Palm Harbor University DE Gavin Wylie (6-3/220) -Class of 2017
Wyllie’s ability to create impact plays on the defensive side of the ball is obvious with 34 tackles–20 solo–9TFL’s–8 sacks, but he’s getting bigger and his strength and speed was impressive putting a nice bookend to the two-week stretch from E7 to BITR in which Wyllie was excellent.

Pinellas Park DT Jordon Scott (6-1/345) -Class of 2017
Absolute monster–on the field that is–because the young man is simply one of the most well-rounded young men you’ll find off the field as well. But on the field last season, he produced 84 tackles–51 solo–28TFL’s–9 sacks–10 hurries–3 caused. Watching Scott showcase his raw strength was one thing, but watching him adjust to having to make other moves besides his patented bull rush was extremely interesting to watch–and he didn’t disappoint. He holds an offer from FSU and you can see why they love him in Tallahassee.