Attention to recruiting continues to skyrocket as many have realized how important National Signing Day is to their team’s success. Countless fans hang on every word out of a recruit’s mouth and a simple tweet can set off a message board firestorm. The Under Armour All-American game will provide plenty of intrigue with stiff competition for the number one spot in the recruiting rankings, six live commitments (including two from five- star prospects), and some outstanding football by the players who will help their future colleges compete for national championships over the next three to four years.
Breitbart Sports will provide first-rate coverage of the upcoming all-star games, beginning with the Under Armour game which can be seen at 5pm EST on ESPN on Friday, January 4th. Coverage will continue with a preview of the top prospects in the Army All-American Bowl, which will be played the following day and also features a number of the country’s top prospects. Breitbart Sports will release a top-25 ranking following the all-star games, and we will follow various recruiting stories through National Signing Day (February 6th) and beyond.
Below are the top ten players to watch in the Under Armour All-American game.
Black Team (HIGHLIGHT)
DE Robert Nkemdiche (pictured) 6’5″, 265lbs., from Grayson (Ga.)- UNCOMMITTED
Almost universally regarded as the number one player in the country, Nkemdiche has the look of an NFL Defensive End. His tool set has never been in question; however, he has been less dominant than others when the pads come on. He’s had a good week of practice, and seeing whether or not he’s able to dominate in the game will go a long way towards cementing his status as the top prospect in the country. Look for the one-time Clemson commit to eventually end up at Ole Miss with his brother although Alabama could end up being a factor.
TE O.J. Howard 6’6″, 225lbs., from Autauga Academy (AL)- ALABAMA
Other than Nkemdiche, there may not be another prospect in the country that passes the “eye test” with higher marks than Howard. With the physique and skill set of someone who seems as though he could redefine the tight end position, Howard has earned a 5 star rating. However, Howard’s competition level has been extremely poor. He will have to prove that he is more than a camp sensation. After an initial flirtation with Auburn, a 3-9 season from the in state rival has Howard as a firm commitment to Alabama.
S Leon McQuay III, 6’2″, 183lbs., from Armwood (FL)- UNCOMMITTED
McQuay is one of the headliners set to announce his college choice during the game. Although he’s been pretty secretive the top 5 for the playmaking safety includes USC, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan, and Vanderbilt. The #19 overall prospect according to Rivals.com has prototypical size and would be a huge haul for James Franklin’s Commodores who may be competing for USC for the top spot. Although, I wouldn’t rule out FSU either, the appeal of Los Angeles may be too much for McQuay who will be enrolling this semester.
CB Vernon Hargreaves III, 5’11”, 185lbs., from Wharton (FL)- FLORIDA
Hargreaves, the #9 overall player in the country according to Rivals.com, is a part of a great cornerback class that includes 5 stars Jalen Ramsey and Kendall Fuller. Hargreaves will look to prove he’s the best, particularly when matched up against Laquon Treadwell, the nation’s premier wide receiver. Hargreaves could make some big plays as a result of poor quarterback play. He appears solid to Florida.
OL Grant Hill, 6’5″, 320lbs., from Huntsville (AL)- ALABAMA
Hill will play a major role as HIGHLIGHT attempts to move the ball against a vicious front seven. He’s been one of the better performers all week, and may be the only one capable of slowing down elite DTs Henri Poggi, Dee Liner, and Montravious Adams or perhaps even Carl Lawson. Hill has good footwork, projects at Guard in college, and will be a great addition for Nick Saban.
White Team (NITRO)
ATH Max Redfield, 6’2″, 181lbs., from Mission Viejo (CA)- UNCOMMITTED
Redfield is an elite athlete who was once committed to USC. Redfield could end up at CB or WR, but Safety is the most likely spot for him at the next level. His playmaking ability could be used in a number of ways over the course of the game, but his announcement be what is most eagerly watched by observers. Look for Notre Dame to land the five star.
LB Reuben Foster, 6’2″, 242lbs., from Auburn (AL)- UNCOMMITTED
Perhaps no player’s recruitment has been more of a roller coaster than Reuben Foster’s. Foster, a big physical linebacker who transferred to Auburn High School before his Senior year. A long time Alabama commit, Foster switched his pledge to Auburn, got a tattoo featuring the Auburn logo, and subsequently de-committed following the dismissal of Gene Chizik and Foster’s lead recruiter Trooper Taylor. Foster’s play this year has been up and down, but he will be an imposing presence. Gus Malzahn has the Tigers back in contention for Foster, but Georgia and Alabama won’t give up easily. My gut says Foster will have no need to remove the tattoo.
QB Shane Morris, 6’3″, 190lbs., from De La Salle Collegiate (MI)- MICHIGAN
Morris has had a mediocre practice week, and missed most of the season. He will have to prove he deserves to keep his fifth star. Morris is solid to Michigan, but he will have to prove that he belongs up there with Max Browne (playing in the Army All-American Bowl) in a quarterback class that has been up and down.
DT Montravious Adams, 6’3″, 281lbs., from Dooly Couny (GA)- UNDECIDED
After a great start to the week, Adams has been largely banged up. He is, however, in the conversation for the top player in the country. He has great feet for a player his size, and is a part of a great group of defensive tackles. Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Clemson, and Auburn remain in contention for Adams’ signature. I’m keeping an eye on home state Georgia, Clemson, and Auburn who was perhaps the leading contenders for Adams, and, after falling out of contention, brought Rodney Garner, the lead recruiter for Adams at Georgia, onto Malzahn’s staff.
DE Carl Lawson, 6’2″, 251lbs., from Milton (GA)- AUBURN
No one is fighting Nkemdiche more fiercely for the top spot than Lawson whose burst off the edge and powerful build has allowed him to dominate first in summer camps, then in his season, and now during practice. A stellar performance from Lawson could help him get number one, and he is certainly eager for the competition. Despite stronger performances, Lawson’s height has been the one thing keeping him from surpassing Nkemdiche, but outperforming him on this stage would make denying him that spot very difficult. While his performances have been steadily spectacular, his recruitment has been rocky. He’s taken a long look at Ole Miss and Tennessee despite his commitment to Auburn. My take is that his fate will be closely tied to Foster and fellow five star Auburn commit Dee Liner. He likely sticks with the Tigers, but Auburn fans won’t rest easy until he signs.