College football fans from across the country will be glued to their television sets Saturday for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, set for 1 p.m. on NBC (WCMH-TV, Ch. 4, in Columbus).
Ohio State fans will also have a vested interest in the day’s proceedings from San Antonio’s Alamodome. Two of OSU’s verbal commitments will be in the game on the East squad in offensive tackle Alex Boone from Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward and defensive back Jamario O’Neal from Cleveland Glenville.
But three other players the Buckeyes are continuing to track will also be on display for the East team. Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood running back Maurice Wells, Washington (D.C.) St. John’s linebacker Rico McCoy and North Babylon, N.Y., running back Jason Gwaltney will also be in the game.
In fact, Wells and McCoy are scheduled to reveal their college of choice during the course of the game broadcast in pre-taped announcements. Wells is reportedly down to Ohio State or Georgia Tech, while McCoy will decide between Ohio State and Tennessee. (Gwaltney is not due to make his announcement between OSU, USC and West Virginia until national signing day on Feb. 2.)
All of this intrigue is a backdrop to what should be an interesting football game. The U.S. All-American Bowl has quickly become the most prestigious all-star game in the country. It will feature the top 78 football prospects in the country.
Scout.com is a sponsor, the official selection partner and exclusive online partner of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, as well as the associated U.S. Army Combine for underclassmen.
"I like to call it the Super Bowl of high school football," said Garrett Shea, the director of U.S. Army All-American Bowl. "We celebrate everything within high school football, bands, cheerleaders, the underclassmen and of course, the top seniors."
The U.S. Army, the game's biggest sponsor, will also provide a week of leadership and teamwork training for the athletes before the big game. Afterward, the Army will conduct a two-day combine for more than 600 of the nation's top juniors, providing a sneak peek at some possible future U.S. Army All-Americans.
The 2005 version is the fifth U.S. Army All-American Bowl. In past games, such stars as running back Adrian Peterson, quarterback Chris Leak, cornerback Teddy Ginn Jr., and defensive tackle Tommie Harris all shined. About 6,000 fans showed up for the first game; for this season's match-up in the Alamodome they are expecting 30,000. They'll see as many as 23 of the 78 possible future stars announce their commitments during the game.
Besides Wells and McCoys, top recruits expected to announce their college commitment on national television are Melvin Alaeze, Ryan Bain, Toney Baker, Nyan Boateng, Dan Doering, David Gettis, Jason Gwaltney, Raymond Henderson, D.J. Hord, R.J. Jackson, Rey Maualuga, James McKinney, Roy Miller, Anthony Moeaki, Adam Myers-White, Jerrell Powe, Ryan Reynolds, Dace Richardson, Ndamukong Suh, Patrick Turner and Ekon Udofia.
The West has the nation's top two signal callers in the nation in Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo, Calif.; USC commitment) and Ryan Perrilloux (LaPlace, La.; Texas commitment). The East has some good quarterbacks in its own right with Greg Paulus (Syracuse, N.Y.; Duke basketball commitment), Jake Christensen (Lockport, Ill.; Iowa commitment) and Jonathan Crompton (Waynesville, N.C.; Tennessee commitment).
You like the running game? Who could be the nation's next Adrian Peterson? It could very well come from the West squad and the nation's top back, Jonathan Stewart (Olympia, Wash.) or Marlon Lucky (North Hollywood, Calif.; Nebraska commitment). The East is loaded as well with the powerful Gwaltney and Toney Baker (Ragsdale, N.C.) and the elusive Wells and Rashard Mendenhall (Skokie, Ill.; Illinois commitment).
When the East goes to the air it will look for the nation's top prospect in Fred Rouse (Tallahassee, Fla.). Rouse will be flanked by some big name wideouts like Patrick Turner (Madison, Tenn.) and Eric Huggins (Conway, S.C.; Oklahoma commitment) while the West has some stars as well like DeSean Jackson (Long Beach, Calif.) and D.J. Hord (Kansas City, Mo.).
The game also features the nation's top three tight ends - DajLeon Farr (Galena Park, Texas), Martellus Bennett (Houston, Texas) and Anthony Moeaki (Wheaton, Ill.). Farr and Bennett are teammates on the West while Moeaki is on the East.
Up front, the East is loaded with some of the top offensive linemen in the country, such as Boone, Dace Richardson (Wheaton, Ill.), Dan Doering (Barrington, Ill.), Michael Oher (Memphis, Tenn.), Eugene Monroe (Plainfield, N.J.; Virginia commitment) and Chris Scott (Lovejoy, Ga.). All of these big uglies are rated among the top eight offensive line prospects in the nation according to Scout.com.
But the West is strong up front as well with Ndamukung Suh (Portland, Ore.), Reggie Youngblood (Houston, Texas; Miami commitment), and Josh McNeil (Collins, Miss.; Tennessee commitment).
The West defense is big up front with the nation's top-rated defensive tackle in Jerrell Powe (Waynesboro, Miss.). Powe, 6-3 and 322 pounds, is cat-quick and great against the run. Other standouts are defensive linemen Demarcus Granger (Dallas, Texas) and Raymond Henderson (Oak Creek, Ill.). The East defensive line is led by J.B. Paxson (Greenwood, Ind.; Purdue commitment), James McKinney (Louisville, Ky.) and Melvin Alaeze (Randallstown, Md.).
Both sides have some great linebackers who can both run and really hit. The West is led by Rey Maualuga (Eureka, Calif.), Ryan Reynolds (Las Vegas, Nev.), and Travis Beckum (Oak Creek, Wis.; Wisconsin commitment) while the East has McCoy, Brian Cushing (Oradell, N.J.), Jerome Hayes (Bayonne, N.J.) and Derek Nicholson (Winston-Salem, N.C.).
An area of strength for the East is in the secondary with O’Neal, Kenny Phillips (Miami, Fla.), Demetrice Morely (Miami, Fla.; Tennessee commitment), Justin King (Monroeville, Pa.; Penn State commitment) and Michael Ray Garvin (Ramsey, N.J.; FSU commitment.). The West has some super athletes in the secondary, too, like Reggie Smith (Edmund, Ok.), Derek Pegues (Batesville, Miss.), and R.J. Jackson (Houston, Texas).
Who has the edge? Who will win? In an all-star game like this you just never know. But you can certainly expect to see a field loaded with the nation's top talent and they will put on a show for everyone. This is something for every recruitnik and the football fan.
The Scout.com team has been all over the All-American Bowl festivities. Click the link below for a list of stories pertaining to the OSU prospects filed this week from San Antonio:
Coverage From San Antonio