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Senior Bowl notebook | Ray Davis, Brenden Rice stand out on Day 3

American running back Ray Davis of Kentucky (21) runs through drills during practice for the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)
American running back Ray Davis of Kentucky (21) runs through drills during practice for the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)

The final Senior Bowl practice has come and gone. The next time the American and National teams see each other at Hancock Whitney Stadium will be for the actual game, which takes place on Saturday at noon. For now, though, let's look at some of the highlights from Thursday.

-- Brenden Rice has been one of the more impressive and intriguing receivers all week. Part of that is because his dad happens to be Jerry Rice, but the attention also involves him being a talent receiver who uses his size and hands to snag passes over defensive backs. That's exactly what happened during 1-on-1 drills to start the day. He matched up against Cam Hart -- another player who has helped his draft stock this week -- and despite some tight coverage from the Notre Dame cornerback, he wrestled the ball away to complete the pass. People are going to be interested in Rice because of his family, but he's proven multiple times that he's more than just his last name.

-- Thursday's practice centered around special teams, so there weren't as many team drills as there were on previous days. However, they did go through some red zone drills, and that was where DeVontez Walker, who had mixed couple of days, stood out on a number of plays. He even caught a touchdown in the back of the end zone. Walker was known for having some solid hands at North Carolina. He didn't show much of that this week, but he was one of the fastest players in practice. Some team is going to see that and be enamored by his acceleration in April, and if he can fix some of his issues with his hands, he could be a dynamic player.

-- Speaking of Walker and Hart, the latter had an impressive goal line pass breakup following Walker's touchdown. Hart is currently ranked as the 180th player on Pro Football Focus' big board, but it's reasonable to expect him to rise a bit after a solid week of practice.

-- Another impressive pass breakup came during the Amercian practice when Auburn's Nehamiah Pritchett batted away Spencer Rattler's pass intended for Jamari Thrash. Pritchett (6-foot-1, 182 pounds) is viewed as a Day 2 prospect by some analysts, and being able to hold his own against Thrash, who also had a good week, should help solidify that.

-- T'Vondre Sweat has been a terror all week. He didn't weigh in on Monday, but it's clear the Texas defensive tackle is a physical force. He bullied most of the centers he matched up against during 1-on-1 drills, but Oklahoma's Andrew Raym found an answer on Thursday. He still gave up some ground, but he managed to quickly settle his feet and lower his hips to stop Sweat's bull rush in his tracks.

-- It's been a relatively quiet week for the linebackers on both teams, but Cal's Jackson Sirmon left things on a positive note during red zone drills when he picked off a pass from Rattler. Sirmon spent the last two seasons with the Bears and recorded 151 tackles in that span. He was more of a run stopper in his college career, but he did do a little of everything with 4.5 sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles and five pass breakups.

-- Rattler did manage to bounce back with a touchdown pass to Kentucky's Ray Davis, who was one of the more electrifying running backs in this year's crop of talent in Mobile, Alabama. Davis is an interesting person off the field; he was raised in the foster care system and has 14 siblings. He's also interested in poetry and wanted to work for ESPN. On the field, he played for Temple, Vanderbilt and Kentucky in his college career, but most of his success came with the Wildcats. He had a career-high 1,129 yards and rushed for 14 touchdowns in 2023, but he's also a talented receiver with 33 receptions.

-- Finally, as a fun way to cap off the week, the offensive and defensive linemen ran wide receiver and defensive back 1-on-1 drills. The matchup that drew the most praise was Texas' Christian Jones and Florida State's Braden Fiske. Jones snagged the pass over Fiske and ran it back, drawing some praise from his offensive teammates. Offenses like to run plays that target tackles as eligible receivers near the goal line from time to time, so, hey, ya never know, right?

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