As I've mentioned, this is a big weekend for recruiting, one of the very biggest of the year, along with the various Junior Days and assorted recruiting camps. This is the weekend of the two biggest high school All-Star games, which are essentially excuses to broadcast recruiting events on television.
During the week of the game, they get coaching from some of the best high school coaches around. They get to play with other Division 1 level players, and get to know other players from around the country. Then they get to be on television. Some of the players who are uncommitted announce their commitments on television at the game. It is usually done with an elaborate ceremony whereby the hats of all the teams the player is considering are put on a table and the player picks the hat of the team he's committing to and puts it on his head.
Yes, it's a silly ritual, and the I fully acknowledge there's a certain unseemliness to the whole thing. But then again, there's a certain unseemliness to all of major college athletics, where very talented, mostly minority, people work their butts off and risk major injury for little compensation for the amusement of middle- and upper-class white people while their efforts make tons of money for coaches, universities, and ESPN. I accept this arrangement despite its obvious moral difficulties, and I'm not sure how it's qualitatively different to follow the exploits and decisions of slightly younger very talented people.
First will be the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, aired today on Fox Sports Channel, and which will feature two LSU commitments, quarterback Chris Garrett and running back Dexter Pratt. I actually do not believe I get this game on television, but it could be fun if you get to see it. Garrett and Pratt (left) will both be early enrollees to LSU, and this is essentially their final high school activity. No commitments to LSU are expected at this game. It's probably the least hyped of the three games, and it's also of the least interest to LSU fans, though it would be a good chance to see Garrett and Pratt.
On Saturday, the US Army All-America game will air on NBC at noon. Current LSU commitments Chris Faulk (O-line) and Chris Davenport (defensive tackle) will be playing in this game. Also on hand will be two potential future LSU commitments Barkevious Mingo (linebacker) and 5-star wide receiver Reuben Randle. Other prospects of interest in this game include DJ Fluker, a Bama commit who reportedly has not fully closed the door on LSU, uncommitted linebackers Jon Bostic and Jarvis Jones, and Michigan lineman William Campbell (left).
A word on William Campbell. He is listed as a five-star on both Scout and Rivals. Campbell had been committed to Michigan for a little while, and then decommitted some months ago. Since then, he has been saying lots of nice things about LSU, but no one took it really seriously, believing that in the end he would certainly re-commit to Michigan after taking some trips and getting some attention. Lo and behold, earlier this week he gave an interview where he said he had eliminated Michigan from consideration, shocking everyone in the world other than Dandy Don, who had been consistently saying that LSU was his leader.
Now the general belief is that LSU is the leader, and he will announce his decision at the game. Some believe he was either playing games or speaking rashly out of some sense of anger when he announced he would not go to Michigan, and that he will end up at Michigan nonetheless. Some also say he could end up at Florida or Miami. I don't want to oversell this to the LSU fans because no one is exactly certain what he's doing, but it will be very interesting. If he commits to LSU, I will have a lot more on him later.
Lastly, on Sunday night we will have the UnderArmour All-American Bowl, which is ESPN's baby. From LSU's perspective, this game is highlighted by Russell Shepard (left), who will be one of the quarterbacks for the unfortunately named Black squad, and by Josh Downs, a lineman for the Black, and Stavion Lowe, an offensive lineman for the White (shudder!). Five-star safety Craig Loston is expected to announce his commitment at the Under Armour game, and all indications are that he will put on the LSU hat. Also announcing will be 5-star wide receiver Andre Debose, about whom we are cautiously optimistic. Also on hand will be players of interest Dyron Dye and Ray Ray Armstrong (both high school teammates of Debose and either potentially LSU bound, though that is not particularly likely), and Bama commit Trent Richardson, who like Fluker has not shut the door completely on LSU. Uncommitted safety Darren Myles, another LSU target, will be playing, but probably will not announce anything. Defensive end Sam Montgomery is also considering LSU and will be playing.
I think all LSU fans should check out the Under Armour game to get a look at Russell Shepard. I think he's going to be an important player for LSU sooner rather than later. If you are at all interested in recruiting, check out both the US Army game and the Under Armour game (and the Offense-Defense game if you get it). Pay special attention to the LSU guys in the game. We are well-represented in both games, as we have been as long as I've been paying attention to them.