Saturday, January 2, 2010
Gators' class looks special
By Gerry Hamilton and JC Shurburtt Scouts Inc.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The third annual Under Armour All-American Game showed that no matter what coaching storylines come out of Gainesville, Fla., in the coming months, the future is bright for Florida football.
Dominique Easley was unblockable all week and constantly had QBs on the run.
The Gators have the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, and several Florida commits showed why Saturday. Led by multiple future Gators, the Black team was outstanding defensively in its 32-7 win, holding the White team to 125 yards of total offense. Safety Jonathan Dowling (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast) had two interceptions, and fellow safety Demar Dorsey (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Boyd Anderson) had a key fumble recovery.
Defensive end Dominique Easley (Staten Island, N.Y./Curtis) won Most Valuable Player honors for the Black team. He committed to Florida during the game.
"We have a great recruiting class coming in," he said. "We are going to do some great things for the Gator Nation."
As if that wasn't enough, Florida cornerback commit Joshua Shaw (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale) had one of the few big plays for the White team, a second-half interception.
QBs make an impression
Black team head coach Sam Wyche -- himself a former quarterback and quarterbacks coach in the NFL -- was impressed with the group of signal-callers on his team. Nick Montana (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), Phillip Sims (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith) and Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich./Inkster) combined to complete only 8 of 25 passes for 85 yards, but threw two touchdown passes.
Wyche was particularly impressed with Gardner, who is committed to Michigan.
"Devin is going to be a big-time player at Michigan," Wyche said. "He's got a great personality. He's going to sell a lot of product for somebody. He can change directions no problem, and [the pressure] doesn't bother him. He and Phillip Sims are going to be the early comers to the show quick. Nick Montana is one of those guys that is a good player in practice, but he's a winner in the game. So we had three going for us. We were lucky to have them."
Easley calls late audible
Easley was one of six players to commit during the game, and he was all set to commit to Oregon before changing his mind for Florida on Saturday morning. It seems that during the week, the Gators commits and leans -- like receiver Chris Dunkley (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee), who also committed to Florida during the game -- worked him, and he ended up deciding to head to Gainesville.
"I always wanted to be a Gator, ever since recruiting started," Easley said. "Then some things happened and it didn't happen. Now I am following my heart and I am going to Florida."
Hooked on Texas commits
In the fourth quarter, the Texas Longhorns continued to build on their top three-ranked recruiting class with the commitment of five-star receiver Darius White (Fort Worth, Texas/Dunbar). As it turned out, it was a big day on and off the field for the Longhorns.
Five-star WR Darius White is part of what will be a group of playmakers heading to Texas.
White combined with fellow commit Mike Davis (Dallas/Skyline) to score three touchdowns in the Black team's victory. White's big day started with a punt return that he nearly broke for a TD. The White team wasn't so lucky the second time around. He also caught an 11-yard TD pass.
"On the first punt return, I cut back and kind of ran into my teammate and somebody got me from behind," White said. "On the second return, coach [Todd] Lawson told me to act like I was at home, and I did. I cut and saw an opening, made people miss and ran to the zone. On the quick slant, the dude on defense was telling me that I better not run a quick slant. I was like, 'OK.' I ran the quick slant, was right there wide open and kept him from my body and made the catch."
Davis, who led all receivers in the game with three catches for 53 yards, got in the end zone on a 25-yard reception. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder timed the pass from Alabama-bound quarterback Phillip Sims (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel), perfectly, leaping high in the air with extended arms bringing down the ball over two White team defenders.
"I think we are fixing to give people trouble," White said. "It's going to be real bad. Mike can play, and I'm looking forward to playing with him."
Chris Jones (Daingerfield, Texas/Daingerfield) and John Harris (Garland, Texas/Naaman Forest) join White and Davis in the 2010 class of receivers. The Longhorns have three receiver commitments ranked in the ESPNU 150, with Jones checking in at No. 68.
Though the score of the game was lopsided, the White team defense actually played pretty well, holding the Black team to 143 total yards.
"We knew that in this game that the defenses were ahead of the offenses," Wyche said. "Our defensive guys made the plays and on the other side, their defensive guys almost made the plays, and that was the difference in the game. Both defenses were very strong."
Crimson Tide class rolls through UA Game week
Several members of the Alabama 2010 recruiting class competed in this week's Under Armour All-America week and drew daily praise. On Saturday, John Fulton joined the superior class after committing to Alabama over South Carolina in the first quarter.
The addition of Fulton gives the Crimson Tide the top cornerback class in the country. He joins DeMarcus Milliner (Millbrook, Ala./Millbrook) to form an impressive pair of cornerbacks heading to Bama. Both Fulton and Milliner turned in a number of impressive plays on the ball Saturday. Fulton showed the ability to turn his head and find the ball when beaten off the line in press coverage.
Defensive end Adrian Hubbard (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) wrapped up an impressive week Saturday as he once again flashed his high-ceiling potential as an edge pass-rusher. Hubbard continued to get off the snap quick, dip the inside shoulder, burst past the tackle and show the ability to close on the quarterback. Hubbard started the game for the Black team opposite fellow end commit Alfy Hill (Shallotte, N.C./West Brunswick).
Quarterback Phillip Sims also had his moments, highlighted by a 25-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
• The Texas A&M Aggies' newest commit, Toney Hurd Jr. (Missouri City, Texas/Thurgood Marshall), made a couple of big hits. He recorded three solo tackles showing the ability to react and close on short routes in off coverage.
• Future Miami running back Storm Johnson (Loganville, Ga./Loganville) didn't have much room to roam Saturday, but continued to show his vision, quick feet in the hole and acceleration. He was the game's leading rusher with 30 yards on seven carries. Look for Johnson to play early and often for the Hurricanes next year.
• Wide receiver Tai-ler Jones (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) suffered an injured ankle early during the practice week, but the Notre Dame commit got healthy during the week and returned to action, catching three passes for 28 yards for White team and at times providing a much-needed spark.
Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for more than a decade. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.