MOBILE, Ala. – Jalen Mills and Harlan Miller represented Louisiana defensive backs just dandy during Saturday’s Senior Bowl.
They both stole touchdowns.
“We got some pretty good DBs in the state of Louisiana,” a smiling Miller said.
On Saturday in front of a national audience on watching on NFL Network, Mills, a former LSU star, and Miller, a Southeastern Louisiana product, were the South team’s starting cornerbacks at this college all-star game at a sun-splashed Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
They both swatted away sure touchdown passes, notching key pass-breakups – PBUs, they call’em – in this NFL showcase in south Alabama.
Mills and Miller mostly played outside at corner, and they, at times, rotated to nickelback as the South beat the North 27-16. South coaches from the Jacksonville Jaguars recognized who their speedsters were. Mills and Miller were the rushers on the edge in the South’s field goal block unit, too.
Mills, in the second series of the game, batted away a third-down pass to force a punt, and then broke up a would-be touchdown pass meant for ex-Illinois receiver Geronimo Allison in the third quarter.
“Those are plays that are 50-50,” Mills said. “Either the guy’s going to catch it and score or I’ve got to win and break the ball up.”
It caps a mostly positive week for Mills, a 2012 All-SEC Freshman projected as a second- to-third round draft selection. He batted away several passes during this week of practice, showing his instincts by running receivers’ routes stride-for-stride at times.
Mills will rejoin former LSU linebacker Deion Jones in Miami on Sunday. The two are training together in the city leading up to the NFL combine, set for Feb. 23-29 in Indianapolis.
Mills met with members of nearly every NFL team during this week in Mobile.
“I’ve got a couple of more interviews I have to do, going to take place at the combine,” he said. “I feel like this week has been different. Really talking to these NFL coaches.”
Miller, an FCS All-American at Southeastern and a fourth-round projection in the draft, broke up his touchdown pass on the last play of the third quarter. Miller swatted the slant pass meant for Ohio State quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller – a play that resulted in a turnover-on-downs.
Quarters at the Senior Bowl are treated like halves. Possession changes after each quarter.
“He gave me some moves off the line. I just had to continue to keep my leverage,” Miller said. “I got the PBU. That’s all I know!”
Dak Prescott, the Louisiana native and former Mississippi State quarterback, had never taken snaps from under center in a live game.
Turns out, it worked out pretty well.
Prescott took advantage of his one quarter of playing time at the Senior Bowl, claiming the game’s most outstanding player award. The Haughton native led the South to an 80-yard touchdown march in that second quarter. He capped it with a 5-yard scoring dart to Southeast Missouri receiver Paul McRoberts, putting an exclamation point on his decision to return for his senior season.
“I knew waiting a year, waiting until my senior year could only help me. I was able to have a good senior season from the pocket making a lot of throws, doing things I think the NFL scouts wanted to see,” he said. “To get this trophy, capped it off the right way.”
Prescott finished the game 7-for-10 for 61 yards in that second quarter. He hit passes of 19, 11 and 14 yards and ran twice for 7 yards on that touchdown drive, doing it all from something other than the shotgun.
“They wanted to see me get in the huddle and take snaps under center. I think I did a good job of it,” he said. “Wasn’t asked to do that in high school or college. My first time, first opportunity to do that was in this game and practice.”
Vernon Butler showed he can handle a Southeastern Conference offensive lineman.
Butler, a second-round projection, beat Missouri center Evan Boehn for a first quarter sack-fumble. Butler pushed Boehn into the backfield, nearly shoving him into South quarterback Jacob Coker of Alabama.
The South recovered the fumble, but Butler provided the first explosive defensive play of the Senior Bowl.
Jones, the ex-LSU linebacker, served as one of five captains for the South Team. … Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon finished the game with nine carries for 27 yards. … Former Northwestern State receiver Ed Eagan had receptions of 23 and 8 yards from North quarterback Cody Kessler of Southern Cal. Both picked up first downs. Eagan was added to the Senior Bowl on Thursday after a rash of injuries to other receivers. … LSU players donned their white – not yellow – helmets during Saturday’s Senior Bowl. LSU’s equipment staff brought both the yellow and white helmets for players this week. They decided to wear the white for the game.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.