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|Defensive end Ronald Powell did a little bit of everything in getting his hands on game MVP honors.|
Ronald Powell caught a touchdown pass, registered a sack and forced fumble and also returned a blocked PAT for two points to lead the West past the East 30-14 in the 10th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl in front of an announced crowd of 34,126 Saturday at the Alamodome. Powell, a 6-4, 225-pound defensive end out of Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley, Calif.), the No. 3 overall prospect in the ESPNU 150, took home game MVP honors and capped off his big day by announcing his commitment to the Florida Gators.
Quite a performance. But in watching nearly 90 of the nation's top high school football recruits battle it out in San Antonio, 10 other things caught our eyes:
When news broke Friday that USC coach Pete Carroll was headed to the Seattle Seahawks, it didn't take long for word to reach the numerous recruits in the game. One player all eyes will be on is Serra (Gardena, Calif.) receiver Robert Woods. Woods surprised many when he committed early to the Trojans last summer after many felt he was leaning toward UCLA or Cal. Expect both schools and several others to be all over Woods between now and signing day.
For East WR Kyle Prater of Proviso West (Proviso, Ill.), news of Pete Carroll's pending departure couldn't have come at a worse time. The 6-5, 200-pound wideout was scheduled to enroll in classes at USC on Monday as an early enrollee and seemed distracted during Saturday's game, uncharacteristically dropping multiple passes. Prater decided to return home to Illinois and re-think his options rather than enroll early at Southern Cal.
Fieldston School (Bronx, N.Y.) quarterback Cole Marcoux won a spot in the Army game after winning an eight-QB competition on a reality show, and he made the most of it. The strong-armed 6-5, 235-pounder came on in the fourth quarter and nearly rallied the East from a 21-0 deficit, completing 5-of-8 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Marcoux, also a fine baseball prospect, is committed to Dartmouth, but the Big Green may have to fight off some D-I overtures after Saturday's performance.
Cretin-Derham (St. Paul, Minn.) offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson was considered by many to be not only the top OL in the nation but the top overall prospect as well. Henderson had a solid week of practice and looked good in the game, but it might be a reach to call him the nation's top overall recruit, as some services are.
After coming in second for players too many times to count, Oregon picked up its first-ever commitment at a postseason All-America game in landing defensive back Dior Mathis of Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich). Mathis had been saying the Ducks led for weeks, but Cass Tech has always been a Michigan pipeline. After Dominique Easley left the Ducks hanging and chose Florida at the UA game two weeks ago, Oregon fans were anxious but they got their guy in Mathis.
|Four-star DT Sharrif Floyd was one of three top players to commit to Florida during the Army game.|
While an MVP wasn't announced for the East squad, it certainly would've gone to Marcoux or 6-3, 309-pound defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd of George Washington (Philadelphia, Pa.). The super-active interior lineman had two sacks and also made his college announcement for the Florida Gators, spurning Ohio State, which many considered the favorite coming in. The Penn State Nike Camp MVP also shared a story about selling 2,000 brownies at a dollar a pop to pay for a trip to last year's Army combine, so clearly Floyd can list baking next to sacking the quarterback at the top of his best abilities.
Dillon Baxter of Mission Bay (San Diego, Calif.) put up huge numbers as a dual-threat quarterback this past season and was slated to play slot receiver for USC in the fall. His desire is to play running back in college and he showed more than enough wiggle and toughness between the tackles to be a very good back at the next level.
Conspicuously absent from most of the game for the East offense was Florida-bound TE Gerald Christian of Dwyer (West Palm Beach, Fla.), who surfaced late in the fourth quarter making an impressive leaping catch and then taking a screen pass from Marcoux 16 yards for a score. Ivan McCartney caught the East's other score, a 50-yard catch-and-run on a post pattern. Both players starred for the Southeast team that captured the title at this summer's inaugural Champion GridIron Kings event in Orlando, Fla., where Christian won MVP honors and McCartney caught the game-winner in the championship game.
All-star games are always sloppy but it seemed like there were an inordinate amount of flags being thrown all game long. The game also came to a quick finish after Dominic Espinosa recovered a fumble to put the West up 30-14 with under two minutes left, as NBC was coming dangerously close to running into the scheduled start of NFL playoff pregame coverage set for 4 p.m. ET.
No, the U.S. hasn't pulled off another Louisiana Purchase and added states. But some might have thought that after longtime recruiting observer Tom Lemming, who joined NBC's Bob Papa and Pat Haden in the booth, reported that he had "visited 59 states in the past year scouting prospects"