Thursday, January 2, 2014
Army Bowl notebook: Jan. 2
By Damon Sayles
SAN ANTONIO -- Thursday’s practice session for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl saw players in more of a rhythm on offense, but it also saw defensive players showing their skills. If Thursday is any indication, Saturday’s contest could be a low-scoring affair.
Here are a few notes:
Cannon reaffirms Baylor commitment … again.
For the Baylor fans who read the late-Wednesday tweet coming from ESPN 300 receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), don’t read anything into it.
Cannon via Twitter expressed his thoughts of Baylor losing to Central Florida in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with a sarcastic “lol Baylor” tweet. What was meant to be sarcasm turned into a misunderstanding, as he fielded tweets from angry and/or concerned Baylor fans.
“I was just mad about the game,” Cannon said. “I’m still 100 [percent].”
Cannon’s reaffirmation is good news for a Baylor recruiting class hoping to hold on to its top recruits. Cannon and ESPN 300 athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau) both have been consistently rumored to have interest in Texas A&M.
ESPN 300 inside linebacker Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) knows where he wants to go.
Morgan also has been schooled properly on how to answer the media.
Morgan is very open with naming his three favorites of Vanderbilt, Notre Dame and Ole Miss. He’s also excited about announcing where he’ll play college ball on Saturday during the Army bowl game. Morgan is quick to admit that he has made his decision.
What he won’t give, however, is detail.
“If I give you that,” he said, “I’ll tell on myself.”
Morgan wants to keep the crowd guessing until Saturday. He did admit to already giving his commitment to his future coaching staff, but the rest of the public will have to find out at the same time.
When asked what the winning school had, Morgan simply answered, “Everything I need.” And then, the nation’s No. 4 inside linebacker and No. 2 player in Illinois smiled.
“I’m getting good at this now, man” Morgan said of answering questions. “I’m hearing the same questions, so I’m getting a lot better. Everyone will find out at the game.
Iheanacho talks top five, his choice for top DB
It’s the end of the week, and ESPN 300 WR Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westside) still is undecided about which school will get his verbal commitment. At least, that’s what he says.
Iheanacho is down to five schools -- Arkansas, Texas A&M, Oregon, LSU and Missouri -- and while several athletes are admitting to knowing their decision but keeping it quiet until Saturday, Iheanacho said his decision might not be made until Saturday morning.
“I feel like I trust those schools the most,” Iheanacho said. “There are other great programs, but they just seem to fit me. These schools have kept in close contact. For me to make a decision at the end of the day, it’s all about seeing myself fitting in and seeing what’s best for my future.”
Many feel Iheanacho is either headed to Texas A&M or Oregon, but Iheanacho said his admiration and respect for all five schools is equal. If LSU happens to land the 6-7, 220-pound receiver, give partial credit to ESPN 300 defensive back Edward Paris Jr. (Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Timberview), who Iheanacho said gets his vote for best defensive back honors at the Army bowl.
“Not having as much experience at receiver, I feel like he’s the best DB I played,” Iheanacho said of Paris, who committed to LSU back in February. “We get after it. He really makes you better. It’s been fun just having the opportunity to play against him.”
Simmons looking for a few good Stanford men
ESPN 300 safety Brandon Simmons (Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Timberview) committed to playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl around this time last year. Unfortunately, Simmons has been sidelined with a spiral fibula fracture for 6-8 weeks.
That hasn’t stopped Simmons from being a player-recruiter. Simmons, a Stanford commit, has been keeping tabs on his West teammates, and he has his eye on a few uncommitted targets in an effort to join him on The Farm.
“I’ve been recruiting Solomon for the longest, so I’m definitely going to keep going after him,” said Simmons, referring to ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell). “I’ve built a strong friendship with him. Any other guys who I know are looking at Stanford, I’m going after them.”
Simmons said his Stanford pitch hasn’t been long or complicated. The school sells itself.
“The location is beautiful, and the atmosphere is ridiculous,” Simmons said. “Then, the education and degree you’re going to get from the university is ridiculous. It paves the way for the rest of your life getting a degree from there.
“Plus, they’re not a slouch in football, either. The combination of everything, you can’t pass it up.”
All fun and games … right?
Sure, Saturday’s game will be for fun, but what’s a game without a little trash talking?
Players from both the East and West teams aren’t shy about telling their opponents their team has a better squad, but it’s the players from the West who have a little more to prove. The East team holds a 7-6 lead over the West team, and the East defeated the West, 15-8, in last year’s game -- in front of a, Army-bowl record crowd of 40,133.
“They’ve been talking a lot of trash, but I’ve said a lot myself,” Morgan said. “I know the truth, though.”
Four-star defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), a soft Texas commit, said he’s heard the comments from East team players as well, but rather than go back and forth, he’s all about letting his actions speak.
“I’ve decided to keep quiet. When we get on that field, though …,” Lealaimatafao said, smiling. “We’ll let them talk for now.”