Five things to watch
GET IN THE GAME
RISE has gone up close and personal with Mack Brown (above) and several other Under-Armour Game participants:
Saturday's Under Armour All-America High School Football Game (11 a.m. ET, ESPN) is overflowing with compelling stories, as usual. You've got the son of an all-time great (Nick Montana), a strong defensive group and a hometown hero (Christian Jones).
Those are great stories, no doubt. But to us, nothing compares to these five:
Representing the Ivy League
Looking at the list of commitments among the Under Armour All-Americans, it's no surprise to see the likes of Florida, Texas, Alabama and USC littered about. Those schools always land top recruits. But look at the list closer, and you'll see "Harvard" next to Buckingham Browne & Nichols (Cambridge, Mass.) tight end Blake Barker. Originally a Stanford commit, Barker switched his pledge to the Crimson in the fall. He's rated the nation's No. 12 tight end in the ESPNU 150. And, yeah, he's the lone Ivy Leaguer in the game.
Four of the five top signal-callers in the ESPNU 150 are slated to play, including No. 1 QB and Alabama recruit Phillip Sims of Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.). Though it's widely considered a down year for quarterbacks, these four top recruits could use the Under Armour Game to silence any haters. It helps that they'll be throwing to four of the nation's top six wide receivers in the ESPNU 150.
Florida State's revival
The Seminoles suffered through another so-so regular season this year, after which legendary coach Bobby Bowden announced his retirement. That must mean Florida State is headed for more trouble, right? Not so fast. Florida State's future will be on display at the Under Armour Game. A pair of All-Americans -- Jeff Luc of Treasure Coast (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner of St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) -- recently pledged to new coach Jimbo Fisher. Luc is the No. 1 inside linebacker in the ESPNU 150, while Joyner is the No. 1 corner.
Florida has the most recruits playing in the Under Armour Game with eight. But the question is whether the recruits' minds will be elsewhere during the game after the recent announcement that Gators coach Urban Meyer will be taking a leave of absence. Though Meyer says he expects to be back next season, it will be interesting to see how these players react to such uncertainty with only a month to go before National Signing Day.
BCS bragging rights
Texas and Alabama will play for the national title Jan. 7, five days after the Under Armour Game. With six Texas recruits and five Alabama pledges among the Under Armour All-Americans, there's sure to be plenty of trash talk going on. Of course, you can bet the Florida and Oklahoma recruits won't enjoy hearing any of it.