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Thursday, December 5, 2013
Under Armour game storylines: ACC

By Jared Shanker

The rosters are set, plane tickets purchased and coaching staffs assembled. The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game is less than a month away.

Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson could be the starter from Day 1 at Clemson.
With nearly all of the country’s elite prospects all together, there are bountiful storylines leading up to and during the Jan. 2 game in St. Petersburg, Fla. Here are five for ACC fans:

1. Will Deshaun Watson follow the footsteps of Jameis Winston and Christian Hackenberg? Both Winston and Hackenberg were the No. 1 quarterbacks in their respective classes and played in the Under Armour Game. Both then went on to have great freshman seasons (Winston after a redshirt year) and have their teams in position to make waves on a national level the next few seasons. Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville)  is the No. 1 quarterback for 2014 and will enter a similar situation to Hackenberg’s. Clemson will have an opening at quarterback in 2014, and Watson will enroll at Clemson following the game. He will have to beat out 2012 Under Armour All-American Chad Kelly, but there is a legitimate chance Watson could be the starter from Day 1 for the Tigers. He is that good.

2. Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby are high school and Under Armour teammates … What about college? The Miami Central running back tandem is in the same backfield in high school and will also team up at the Under Armour Game. However, Cook is committed to Florida and Yearby is committed to nearby Miami. Yearby is as solid as they come to the Hurricanes after a flip from Florida State earlier this year. Cook, on the other hand, is wavering and the belief is he will commit to FSU sooner rather than later. The Canes are not giving up on Cook, though, and don’t count Al Golden out. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility to see both Cook and Yearby sharing carries in college, too.

3. Will Jalen Tabor remain in Under Armour apparel? Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) has long been considered a lean to nearby Maryland, an Under Armour school. A top-five cornerback and No. 15 in the ESPN 300, Tabor  will make an official visit to Alabama before announcing his decision at the Under Armour Game, but at the moment it looks as if the Terps have a solid hold on Tabor. Who is counting out Nick Saban, though? It would be a tough blow for the Terps if Tabor does not sign with them. Maryland needs all the help it can get before moving to the Big Ten.

4. A look to the future of Florida State: The Noles not might have the “Linebacker U” moniker, but few programs have had more success at the position than Florida State. The Seminoles’ strongest position group in the 2014 class is at linebacker as their top three commitments are all at the position. Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood, No. 2 ILB) and Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby, No. 5 OLB) will line up next to each other in the Under Armour Game before doing the same in Tallahassee. They are FSU’s top two commitments.

5. Help on the way for Virginia: Dumpster fire might be the best way to describe the 2013 season in Charlottesville, Va. The 8-5 season in 2011 seems like forever ago now following a 2-10 season and a winless record in conference play. Virginia is keeping coach Mike London, though, which means five-stars Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel Smith) and Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) are keeping their word. Brown is the No. 1 defensive tackle and Blanding the No. 1 safety, and they will be on the field together in the UA game. If London can turn it around at Virginia, he might owe it to Blanding and Brown.