US Army All-American Bowl
A preview of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and a recap of the week of practice leading up to the game
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played this Saturday in San Antonio. You can catch the game at noon on NBC. These high school All-American games are always....interesting. Fans can see their team's future stars playing against those headed to other schools.
In theory, you can see who stands out in a game like this and really pick out who the future stars of college football will be. And sometimes, that's absolutely the case. I recall seeing Desean Jackson make other All-Americans look silly, as well as himself. It was the first time that Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin played together. I also recall Clemson QB Tahj Boyd (I just winced having to type his name) win the MVP of this thing.
The organizers also do a good job of scattering some college decision announcements throughout the game to hold the intrigue of the affected fan bases. But the game itself? With only a few practices to get things together, the game play is typically pretty sloppy. Even a recruiting junkie like myself can barely watch the entire thing unless a prospect is making a decision and LSU is involved. But that won't be the case this year because LSU has SIX commitments playing in the game. Five of the six are playing for the West team and include CB Tre'Davious White, QB Hayden Rettig, WR John Diarse, OG Josh Boutte, and TE Desean Smith. Playing for the East team is DE Frank Herron.
None of the prospects making a college decision during the game are considering LSU, so Tiger fans don't have to worry about any hat tricks.
The week leading up to the event is worth paying attention to just as much as the game. The practices double as show cases for the recruiting sites to observe the players going against each other in drills, and you can usually learn a few things. The feedback on all six of LSU's commitments has been extremely positive. Here is a bit of what has been observed this week:
Tre'Davious White has been one of the top performers at the entire event. Rivals.com named White the #5 overall performer for the West from Monday's practice and the #2 top performer on Tuesday. This article (free) by 247 Sports also tabs White as the top performer on the West squad from Monday. The article also has some great things to say about Josh Boutte and Hayden Rettig. Just one example of the praise thrown White's way:
Speaking of Rettig, he was one of the top performers according to all of the sites on Monday and has shown off a strong arm all week. J.C. Shurburtt of 247 Sports ranked Rettig as the #2 quarterback at the event over the course of the entire week. More on his arm strength in the video linked below.
One of the receivers on the West squad is Texas commitment Jake Oliver, and he had this to say:
S/O to my Q @haydenrettig11, never heard a pass whistle like his does he throws so hard, he'll ball at LSU— Jake Oliver (@joliver_6) January 2, 2013
Josh Boutte made a big impression on the first day of practice Monday, showing off some serious physicality and aggression. He reportedly tossed Texas A&M commitment Isiah Golden to the ground like a rag doll and then beat Horns commit A'Shawn Robinson in a drill as well. Rivals had him as their #3 top performer for the West on Monday. He has seemingly solidified himself as one of the top guard prospects in the nation.
Boutte has recently said that he may take some visits to other schools this January, but that he remains solid to LSU. If any of those visits take place, it could be something to watch down the stretch.
Frank Herron has really stood out on the East squad. Each day, he has been on every single list of top performers that I could find. On Thursday, he was named the East's overall top performer. I've seen tons of comments regarding how quick and explosive Herron looks, despite his size at 6'5" 250 pounds. Herron has even played a little defensive tackle in practice. That versatility could serve him well at LSU, who likes to use their bigger ends on the interior when they go to the Mustang package. Long term, I think Herron stays on the outside as a bigger defensive end similar to guys like Marcus Spears, Tyson Jackson and Lavar Edwards.
Rivals had this to say about Herron's day on Thursday:
Herron had an incredible day of practice on Thursday. The LSU commitment has violent hands that make him almost unblockable, and he possesses quickness that allows him to shoot gaps and get upfield. He forced more than one fumble in the team period by disrupting the mesh point between the quarterback and running back.
#LSU commitment Frank Herron has been a monster in team period. Forced multiple fumbles.— Jake Rowe (@JakeRoweRivals) January 3, 2013
I'm starting to sound like a broken record but just like the others, Smith has also found himself on just about every Top Performer list out there for the West team. Onlookers consistently raved about Smith's hands. J.C. Shurburtt of 247 Sports ranked Smith as the #1 tight end from either team for the entire week. If this week is any indication, LSU will be getting a much needed receiving threat at the tight-end position.
DeSean Smith with a 1 handed grab in WR drills #LSU— Jason Howell (@RivalsJason) January 1, 2013
John Diarse has not received quite the accolades as some of the others, but he has drawn consistent praise for his route running and hands. Sonny Shipp of Geaux 247 has been on hand in San Antonio and had this to say about Diarse on Tuesday:
Jake Oliver and John Diarse are the two most polished WRs on the West and it isn't even close
Rivals put together this video highlighting the great week that LSU's commitments have been having. It's definitely worth a click and two minutes of your time.
And there's also this video of John Diarse and Tre'Davious White, hinting that White could be a part of a trick play or two:
WEST Secret Weapon (via ArmyAllAmericanBowl)
One last tweet with a pic of the LSU commits at the game: