The U.S. Army All-American Game is the nation's premiere showcase of high school football talent. Although the Under Armour All-American Game has done an excellent job in recent years displaying a wide array of high school football talent, there's simply no matching the prestige, tradition, and current NFL and college stars the U.S. Army All-American game has showcased.
The game was played on January 10, 2010 in the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, Texas.
While many players might believe that simply playing in this game punches their ticket to the NFL, stardom on the next level, college, or pro, is not handed to them, and not all of the U.S. Army American Bowl alumni will be future stars. Scouting has never been and never will be an exact science--no matter how many people tell you otherwise.
That being said, I still enjoy crowning the next big stars and the "stars of tomorrow" as much as any football fanatic out there. Here are five players that I was very impressed with after watching the game:
1. DE/WR--Ronald Powell--Moreno Valley, California(Rancho Verde High School)--(Pictured above--photo by Eric Gay/Associated Press) Listed at 6'4, 250 pounds on his Scout.com profile with 4.6 speed, Powell is arguably the most supremely gifted athlete in the entire 2010 recruiting class. He won MVP honors at the U.S. Army All-American game and deservedly so. This kid is a freak of nature who will probably be a top 10 NFL draft pick in three years. Perhaps one of the most impressive physical specimens I've ever seen on the defensive side of the ball, Powell plays much faster than his listed 4.6 forty yard dash time. He leaped in the air and displayed his impressive leaping ability and body control after quarterback Connor Wood rolled out to his left and tossed a 23-yard touchdown strike to Powell in the back of the end zone. Powell was also surrounded by two defenders, making the catch even more impressive.
The California native also had another highlight play when the West defense blocked an extra point attempt, Powell scooped the ball up, scooted to the left side of the field, and NBC's cameras had already turned away because they figured the play was over, but no so fast, here comes Powell racing down the sidelines, no defenders anywhere in sight. That's right folks, a 98-yard PAT conversion for Mr. Powell. In all Powell racked up five unassisted tackles, a 98-yard PAT return, a blocked field goal recovery, and a 23-yard touchdown catch. A simply dazzling array of numbers for the Rancho Verde High School product. He was by far the most dominant player in this game and I don't know if I've ever seen one football player dominant so many different aspects of a game the way he did--on offense, defense, and special teams. Florida's coaches will likely use him as a defensive end and he'll be a nightmare to block off the edge with his speed. They could also utilize him as a tight end/wide receiver on certain plays if they want--he's certainly displayed the skill set and ability to play both sides of the ball. It's all about what their coaches want to do with him.
It's easy to see why he earned MVP honors in the game and his performance in the game also earned him Rivals.com #1 overall ranked player in the 2010 recruiting class. I simply can't argue with that after watching him in the U.S. Army All-American game. He will be an absolute terror on the gridiron, probably as soon as next year for the Florida Gator's--who happened to assemble one of the most dominant defensive lines ever put together in one recruiting class.
Signed with Florida Gators
2. QB--Cole Marcoux--Bronx, New York(The Fieldston School)--out of all the offensive players in this game, I was easily the most impressed with quarterback Cole Marcoux. The funny thing is he had to win a reality show called "The Ride" to be able to play in this game. He is currently committed to Dartmouth and I find it flat out astonishing that this kid does not have any Division 1A scholarship offers. Especially after his performance in this game, why weren't more coaches not blowing up his cell phone and asking him about potentially playing football on a bigger and brighter stage? Surely he will receive more offers late in the stage of the game, but who knows.
Marcoux displayed beautiful ball placement on his throws in this game. He connected on 5 of his 8 passing attempts for 99 yards, while tossing in two touchdowns and no interceptions. One of his most impressive passes of the game was when he threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to receiver Ivan McCartney--who was streaking down the middle of the field. Marcoux placed it right in McCartney's hands in stride and he was off-to-the-races. His other touchdown pass also showed some beautiful touch, Marcoux drifted to the ride side of the field to the right hash mark, lofted a beautiful lofted screen pass to receiver Gerald Christian, who caught the ball at the 18-yard line, shook a few defenders in the open field, and found the end zone.
Different people look for different attributes in their quarterbacks, I have always been one to place a very high premium on ball placement and accuracy. Marcoux is one of the most accurate quarterbacks I've gotten to see out of the 2010 class and I'm very shocked that he doesn't have any bigger offers.
The kid can play and at an extremely high level, I think we will be seeing this kid get a shot to play on Sundays a few years down the road. Obviously, it's tough to tell how he will adjust to the speed of the game from the Ivy League to the NFL, but I'm interested to see how his accuracy translates to the next level. So many guys are always harping about how strong a kid's arm is, this and that, well JaMarcus Russell has a rocket launcher attached to his right shoulder and look at how good he's doing in the NFL.
Marcoux will likely have opposing defensive coordinators in the Ivy League shaking in their boots after watching his performance in the All-American game. Be afraid Ivy League. Be very afraid. The ultra-accurate arm of Cole Marcoux is coming to a field near you.
If you want to read more about Cole Marcoux and his amazing ride to stardom--read this excellent story written by Kevin Armstrong in the New York Times:
Signed with Dartmouth Big Green
3. OLB/DE--Josh Shirley--Fontana, California(Kaiser High School)--When writing about defensive end/linebacker Josh Shirley the first phrase that comes to mind is "highly disruptive". This is a kid who was downright dominant in the U.S. Army All-American game. He made one of the best plays in the game, picking up a blocked field goal and returning it 70 yards for a touchdown with ease. He was constantly in the backfield and you could see his "high motor." The kid never gives up on plays and in constant pursuit of the football, even if he overruns the play. When you watch his highlights on YouTube--he's constantly in the backfield and is excellent at getting intense pressure on the quarterback. His release off the line of scrimmage is lightning quick and he's in the backfield almost immediately after the snap of the ball. He sheds blocks of the offensive lineman with ease, and when he does get to the quarterback he can lay jarring hits or sling them to the ground like a ragdoll.
He's remarkably fast for somebody his size. At 6'2, 225 lbs. Shirley runs a 4.53 40-yard dash time and I assure you he plays just as fast as that on the field. This was a huge land for Rick Neheuisel and company, as he turned down offers from the USC Trojans and Miami Hurricanes to play in the powder blue. Not as many people know about Shirley as they might the more highly touted 5-star DT, Owamagabe Odighizuwa, but trust me when I say the kid is a special talent. He racked up astonishing numbers his junior year in high school, tallying 117 tackles Shirley joins an elite class of defenders that will ensure that UCLA football will continue to stay on the rise with head coach Rick Neuheisel. The Bruins will not only be competitive in the Pac-10, but will likely compete for the Pac-10 championship within the next few years.
Shirley joins an impressive defensive class that ranks in the top 5 in the country, with other stars such as the previously mentioned Owamagabe Odighizuwa, and Woodberry Forest DE/OLB Aramide Olaniyan, and DT Cassius Marsh. When you put stars like that on a defense that is already loaded with talent, such as All-American FS Rahim Moore and SS Tony Dye, well you've got yourself a rather devastating combination, dominant pass rushers with dominant defensive backs. UCLA's defense will be posing plenty of problems for other teams in the conference in the future.
Look for Josh Shirley to be a dominant force on this Bruin defense as soon as next year and in the years to come.
Signed with UCLA Bruins
4. DT Sharif Floyd--Philadelphia, Pennsylvania(George Washington High School)-- The 2010 recruiting class for Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators very well may be the greatest recruiting class ever assembled in the modern era of college football recruiting. The 6'3, 310 pound behemoth of a man that is Sharif Floyd is a very big reason for that. Their defensive lineman class could go down as the best ever and players like DE Ronald Powell, Sharif Floyd, and DE Dominique Easley are very big reasons for that.
Floyd is more than a "space-eater" who can clog up the middle, he is remarkably light on his feet for somebody his size and has a very quick release off the line of scrimmage. He's been timed at 4.8 in the 40 yard dash. I don't think you'll find a defensive tackle in this class that has the combination of size and speed of Floyd. He was rather dominant and disruptive in the U.S. Army All-American game, racking up two sacks and one quarterback pressure. He was constantly harassing the East quarterbacks. It really is amazing to see a guy his size run as well as his does, and Floyd will pose serious problems for offensive lineman in the SEC with teammates Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley. Floyd is ranked as the top defensive tackle in the 2010 recruiting class and it is a well-deserved ranking. He's a kid with a remarkable story and if you want to read more about it just check out this story in USA Today written by Jim Halley:
If you are an opposing quarterback in the SEC, I'd be very afraid of this guy. Floyd will be dominant for years to come in the SEC and will likely be a dominant player in the NFL years
down the road. The Florida Gators--setting the recruiting gold standard this year with their stellar class of defensive lineman who Urban Meyer had high words of praise for this this class. "As far as the defensive front, I don't know if I've ever seen one like this," Meyer said.
Pretty high words of praise from Coach Meyer, but there's simply no topping this defensive class of Florida's. It is oozing with athleticism from all different directions.
Signed with Florida Gators
5. RB Lache Seastrunk--Temple, Texas(Temple High School)--I don't want to put too much stock into one game, and players like RB Lache Seastrunk are exactly why. I like to take a look at the whole body of work, highlights, throughout high school, and all-star game performances, but obviously game film/highlights is going to weighted more highly than the all-star game. This game just gave me a better look at some of the prospects to see how they stacked up against the competition, but again, it's one game.
Alot of recruiting services were extremely high on Seastrunk coming into the U.S. Army All-American game and with his "subpar" performance, many dropped him in the national rankings, including Rivals.com. The Texas native only had two rushes for five yards, and one reception for two yards on the day, certainly not good numbers by even the most modest of standards. He didn't get a lot of touches because RB Dillon Baxter was ahead of him on the depth chart and once you take that into account, his numbers really don't bother me that much at all.
The variety of recruiting services and many scouts are allowed to have their opinions, I just don't agree with dropping Seastrunk that much over one performance. He was ranked as high as the number 3 overall player in the country by Rivals.com--after his performance in the U.S. Army All-American game--he slid down to number 26 overall--but still maintained his five-star status.
That said, Rivals.com still rates Seastrunk as the 3rd best player in the country at his position--which is tough to argue with. He has signed with head coach Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks, and I'm a big believer that the Texas sensation will fit in beautifully in Chip Kelly's "zone-read" offensive scheme.
At 5'11, 192 lbs. Seastrunk has pretty solid size, but what separates him from other running backs in the country are his stunning agility and speed. Listed with a 4.5-40 yard dash time, he plays much, much faster than that. His numbers for his senior campaign at Temple High School were very impressive, averaging over 6.5 yards per carry on 177 attempts, chewing up over 1,100 yards on the ground, while scoring 11 touchdowns. He became the Temple Wildcats' all-time leading rusher and broke the school record for the most rushing yards in one game with 305.
Rivals.com says that Seastrunk reminds them of former Cal RB Jahvid Best and I think that's an excellent comparison--dead on. The Temple high school product slices through defenses laterally so easily, it's hard not to think of Jahvid Best when watching his high school highlights. Seastrunk has excellent acceleration and has the ability to maintain top speed while cutting laterally, which are two of the biggest reasons why he is such a dangerous running back in the open field.
Temple runs the Wing-T offense so it could take Seastrunk a little bit of time to adjust to Chip Kelly's spread offense and his "zone-read" scheme, but he will have plenty of time to learn. He might be able to break into the starting lineup his freshman year, but he will have a hard time beating out speedsters LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner for playing time.
Look for Seastrunk to be a gamebreaker in Chip Kelly's scheme--whenever it is that he actually gets playing time!
That's about it for now folks, look for more coverage of college football recruiting, college football, and the NFL Draft from me soon!
Remember, "Life is best described in football terms!"