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January 22, 2008

Forsett stands out in Senior Bowl practice

Video: Woodson interview | Brennan highlights | Ainge highlights

MOBILE, Ala. California tailback Justin Forsett had arguably one of the strongest practices Monday. Forsett showed great versatility catching the ball out of the backfield and running off-tackle.

Forsett had at least two instances where he broke off big plays during scrimmage work.

"I love getting the ball in the open field," Forsett said. "Just give me a chance to get in the open field and I'll make some people miss and make some big plays out there. I like running inside as well. It's just exciting playing with all these top-notch guys because it makes you better."

Mallet's move doesn't surprise Henne

Rich Rodriguez's hire at Michigan has been one of the biggest storylines in college football over the past month. Rodriguez's hire will bring many changes, most notably to the Wolverines' offense. Former Michigan quarterback Chad Henne said he expects to see a whole new look from the Wolverines in 2008.

"I think it's going to be a lot different," he said. "(Rodriguez) is bringing the whole spread offense, and a lot of the quarterbacks are looking elsewhere.

"Ryan Mallett already transferred and two of the other quarterbacks are staying for spring ball to see what happens. It's definitely a change at the quarterback position, and we'll see how it works in the Big 10."

Henne said Mallett's decision to leave for Arkansas wasn't a surprise. Henne said the move was in Mallett's best interest.

"It was good for him to leave," Henne said. "Obviously none of us (Michigan) quarterbacks are spread-offense quarterbacks, and he wanted to go to an offense where he could throw the ball."

Once a recruiter, always a recruiter

Former Ole Miss coach Ed Oregon at the Senior Bowl in an attempt to find a new job long has been regarded as one of the best recruiters in the nation, and it was easy to see why Monday.

Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable and California wide receiver DeSean Jackson greeted Orgeron with hugs. Orgeron recruited both while they were in high school. Jackson, who left Cal after his junior season, isn't eligible to play in the Senior Bowl; he was present Monday to watch practice.

Orgeron also was greeted by several different USC players he used to coach when he was an assistant with the Trojans before going to Ole Miss.

"They all grew up to be men," Orgeron said of his former Trojans players. "They are some of the best players in the country. I was really impressed today with their technique and the way they ran around.

"I was impressed with (Oakland Raiders coach) Lane Kiffin's (North team) practice. They had energy out there, and it kind of reminded me of being at USC."

Like Orgeron, Kiffin is a former USC assistant.

Jones' departure didn't surprise Brennan

Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan said he wasn't particularly surprised that former Warriors coach June Jones was returning to the mainland to take over at SMU.

"I had talked (before the season) about the facilities and the way the program was being run," Brennan said. "I think Coach Jones, after taking us to the Sugar Bowl, was waiting for his contract. That's a joke. He should have had his contract long before we got to the Sugar Bowl.

"He's got to do what's best for himself and his family. I think he needed a new challenge, and that's why he went to SMU."

Brennan also issued the following warning to SMU's Conference USA rivals: "That program's going to be a terror a couple of years from now, if not next year."

Although Brennan criticized the way Hawaii allowed Jones to leave, he praised the school for selecting former defensive coordinator Greg McMackin as its new coach.

"He understands the program, understands the culture and people really well," Brennan said. "The players will react really well to him because he was probably the players' coach of all coaches."

Tale of the tape

The first round of Senior Bowl practices was preceded by a weigh-in, as each player stood for measurements in a hotel ballroom while about 1,000 NFL scouts and media members looked on.

Boston College offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus had the longest arms (35 5/8 inches) and hands (11 inches). Nebraska offensive tackle Carl Nicks was the heaviest player at 343 pounds, which actually is 2 pounds lighter than his playing weight with the Huskers.

"It was one of the better-looking groups I've seen," an NFC scout said. "Last week at the East-West Shrine Game, there were a couple of players you could tell hadn't been working. You could tell these guys had been working."

Oregon State kicker Alexis Serna was the shortest (5-6) and lightest (168 pounds) player on either roster.

The shortest non-kicker was Forsett at 5-7, though he also had a hand length of 10 inches. Cherilus was the only player on either roster with bigger hands.

"I was kind of surprised when I saw the quarterbacks going up there and their (hands) were smaller than mine," Forsett said. "It definitely helps with catching and being able to reach."

The lightest non-kicker was Purdue wide receiver Dorien Bryant at 169 pounds. Louisville wide receiver Harry Douglas weighed 170 pounds and also had the smallest hands (7 inches) of any player on either team.

Traveling man

Hampton defensive end Kendall Langford's late invitation to the Senior Bowl left him in a quandary regarding his laundry.

He found out a day before Saturday's East-West Shrine Game that he was being offered a Senior Bowl spot. He didn't have time to return home before going from the Shrine Game in Houston to the Senior Bowl workouts.

A former Hampton teammate made sure Langford didn't have to go on a shopping spree. Wide receiver Jerome Mathis now is a member of the Houston Texans and spent this season on injured reserve.

"I washed my clothes over at his house," Langford said.

Last minute addition

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge got the call when Louisville's Brian Brohm pulled out of the game.

Ainge threw for 3,522 yards and 31 touchdowns this year to help Tennessee go 10-4 and win the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.

"I was told to be ready because they didn't know what was going to happen. I was hoping I was going to get to play, and I'm thankful I have the opportunity to come out here and compete," Ainge said. "You have a chance to come out here to play and practice against some of the best players in the country, and it will make me better regardless of whether it makes my draft status go up or down.

"It will make me a better football player, and that's what we all want to accomplish while we're here."

Doing two things at once

Mississippi State's Titus Brown may have been the hardest-working player on either roster during Monday's practice.

Brown began his college career as a linebacker before making a successful transition to defensive end. He is working out at both positions this week, which has forced him to run back and forth between the two units.

"It was kind of hard," Brown said. "I was going 12 plays down there (at defensive end), and then having to go back here (with the linebackers). It was kind of breathtaking."

(Sean Callahan, Adam Gorney and Steve Megargee contributed to this report).

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