Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Army Bowl notebook: Dec. 31
By Damon Sayles
SAN ANTONIO -- The second day of practice for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl -- on the last day of 2013 -- has come to a conclusion. Here is Tuesday’s notebook featuring some of the nation’s elite athletes:
How sure is ESPN 300 outside linebacker Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra) about his forthcoming verbal commitment announcement?
“I’m 90 percent sure,” Williams said. “No, 98 percent sure.”
Williams knows where he’s going, but he’s going to wait until Saturday, during the bowl game, to make it decision public. The nation’s 10th-ranked outside linebacker will pick out of Georgia, Clemson, Florida, LSU and Oklahoma.
For those interested in playing detective, Williams did drop a hint about his future plans.
“The law program is great,” Williams said of the winning school. “I want to major in pre-law. I want to be a J.D. [Juris Doctor].”
In addition to the education factor, Williams said his decision falls on how comfortable he felt with the coaching staff. He has visited Oklahoma (weekend of Oct. 4) and Florida (Nov. 29).
RB Mixon talks top three, significance of Army bowl
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl holds a special place in the heart of ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom). In addition to playing for the Army soldiers, Mixon felt like the event was a major stepping stone for his recruiting process.
RB Joe Mixon has a final three of Oklahoma, UCLA and Wisconsin.
Mixon competed in the U.S. Army Combine last year and put on a dominating performance. Since then, he has been one of the most sought-after running backs in the country. On Saturday, Mixon will choose one of three schools -- UCLA, Oklahoma or Wisconsin.
Don’t expect Mixon to give hints on how he’s leaning. On Tuesday, he said he was still unsure.
“I’ll be finalizing everything on Thursday or Friday,” Mixon said. “I’m going to talk it over with my family, pray about it and make the right decision for me.
“It’s been a great process. I’ve been going at it for about a year and a half. At first, I wasn’t really known, but I blew up after the Army combine last year. That’s when I think I really started taking my game to another level.”
Mixon is a big fan of all three schools, and any one of the three could be called during his allotted game-time announcement.
“With UCLA, it’d be a good situation for me to come in. I can play early as a freshman,” Mixon said. “They can do a lot for me, and I can do the same for them. Plus, it’s in L.A.
“With Oklahoma, the tradition of the backs they’ve had is nice. They play a lot of true freshmen and have a history of putting the best backs in the league. Wisconsin does a great job with their running backs. Coach [Thomas] Hammock really develops them. He does a good job of producing backs.”
UVA in front for WR Kamara; two others in the mix
ESPN 300 receiver Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan) is another player expecting to announce on Saturday, and while many feel Virginia is the team to beat, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh are two finalists that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Kamara said he’s “60-30-10” in favor of Virginia, then Wisconsin and lastly Pitt, but his mind isn’t totally made up. He is re-examining all of his choices before giving one school 100-percent approval.
“With Wisconsin, I’d be coming in to try and take [Jared] Abbrederis’ spot. That’s what they want me to do,” Kamara said. “They’re definitely a winning program. With Pitt, they’ve got [Devin] Street leaving, so they need another guy to be on the other side of [Tyler] Boyd, which is big. Plus, I have family in northern Pennsylvania.
“UVA is three hours away from the house. A lot of my boys go there. When I went on my visit, it felt like home, like I was chilling with my boys. The offensive scheme is kind of like what I do now. I know I’d feel comfortable there.”
In the meanwhile, Kamara is focused on getting healthy in time for Saturday. He injured his shoulder during drills prior to the week, but he is expected to be cleared to practice after New Year’s Day.
“I’m expecting to play this weekend. I’m just taking it easy right now,” Kamara said. “They said they just don’t want me to hurt it further. It felt better [Tuesday] morning, so I was catching balls. I’ll probably put shoulder pads on [Wednesday].”
Watching four-star linebacker Kenny Young (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) compete in practices is like watching a machine operate at one speed.
When it comes to football, Young doesn’t have a lackadaisical approach on the field, and he’s showing that in practices. What he doesn’t want, however, is for his no-nonsense, businesslike tactics to be misinterpreted as a player who isn’t enjoying the all-star atmosphere.
“I am having fun honestly, but the way I practice is the way I play,” Young said. “That’s why I play uptempo; I play like I play in the game.”
Young’s style of play has attracted multiple schools, and he said Arkansas, UCLA, Texas A&M, LSU and Oklahoma State are in the running for landing him. Young said he will take an official visit to Arkansas on Jan. 17 and an official visit to Texas A&M on Jan. 19.UCLA and Oklahoma State also could see official visits.
The one school most likely not getting an official is LSU, but that’s because Young has been to Baton Rouge several times. He said he knows what to expect of the Tigers, and the program very much will be in the hunt when he announces on Feb. 5.
“I will make a decision publicly on signing day, but I probably will tell the school I choose a week or two before I announce it publicly,” he said.
No officials, decision date set for ATH Autry
ESPN 300 athlete Myles Autry (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) won’t be announcing his college plans on Saturday. Fortunately, Autry is one of the recruits who’s enjoying the recruiting process.
Oregon, Ohio State, Florida State and Georgia Tech are in the hunt for Autry, who is lining up at wide receiver for the East team. He doesn’t have any official dates set, but he’ll plan on setting dates after the Army bowl.
“I’m going to keep it out there. A lot of kids wish to be in my position,” Autry said. “I’m just taking my time, day by day, and enjoy the opportunity I have. After this is over, I’m going to take my officials and make my plans.
“I just don’t want to end it too quickly, knowing I still have national signing day. I haven’t taken any officials yet. I haven’t been to all the places I wanted to go. I just want to enjoy this.”
Autry said his decision will come down to comfort level and overall feeling from an atmosphere standpoint. Autry also said his mother will be a huge part of his final decision.
“My mom is a big part of this. She’s a smart woman, and she wants the best for me,” Autry said. “I’m going to listen to her and some others, and we’ll go from there.”