Posted by Bryan Fischer
The Basics: East vs. West high school All-Star game, 1 p.m. EST, Jan. 8, NBC.
Who's playing: The top high school players from across the country. MaxPreps.com has broken down the rosters by school for both the East and the West squad.
Why You Should Watch: With the college football season officially wrapping up in just three days, it's time to turn your attention to the players looking to make an impact for next year. From the quarterbacks to the linebackers to the kickers - yes, even the kickers - some of America's best high school players have descended on San Antonio for the last of the two major All-Star games. Several players are set to announce what school they're committing to at the game so feel free to tune in for kids picking up hats and stay for some good football too. Given all of the great high school talent, the level of play in this game should be much, much higher than Pitt and Kentucky in the BBVA Compass Bowl on at the same time.
Who to watch on the East squad: The linebacking core for the East is loaded with talents like Lateek Townsend (Bennettsville, SC), Curtis Grant (Richmond, VA) and Brent Calloway (Russellville, AL). The group should be able to roam free and make plays thanks to the better of the two defensive lines, led by stud defensive tackles Timmy Jernigan (Lake City, FL) and Michael Bennett (Centerville, OH). On the offensive side of the ball, the running back group is one to keep an eye on. MaxPreps.com’s number one overall player James Wilder Jr. (Tampa, FL) should carry most of the load while being complemented nicely by the speedy Mike Blakely (Brandenton, FL) and Demetrius Hart (Orlando, FL). Paving the way up front is uncommitted tackle Antonio Richardson (Nashville, TN) and very athletic guard Aundrey Walker (Cleveland, OH). A lot of eyes will be on Nick O’Leary (West Palm Beach, FL) because he’s not only the grandson of golfer Jack Nicklaus, but the last time he was on national television he made an obscene gesture and was suspended two games.
Who to watch on the West squad: There's a ton of firepower on offense for the West everywhere you look. The triggermen are guys who can step up into the pocket and deliver throws down the field while being mobile enough to escape outside if needed. Of course, turning around and handing off to any of the running backs also works. San Antonio-area stud Malcolm Brown (Cibolo, TX) is the best of the bunch and is looking to cap off a terrific year with a good performance in front of the home crowd. It’s hard to miss him at 6-foot-7, 250 pounds but tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is athletic enough to create a huge mismatch no matter what he does on the field. And when the defense comes on the field, keep your eye on De’Anthony “The Black Mamba” Thomas (Los Angeles, CA) who may be small but is one of the quickest players in the nation.
What else is happening: Besides 41 of the MaxPreps.com top 100 recruits squaring off? A lot. Roughly fourteen of the nation’s top players will select their school. Among the names set to announce is Colt Lyerla (Hillsboro, OR) between Oregon and USC. Alabama commit Brent Calloway is also expected to commit, well, recommit on national television to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. And because the whims of 18 year olds change daily, the final list of who is or isn’t committing won’t be known until a few hours before game time.
No matter what, some big name players are ready to take the field at the Alamodome. Given the talent that the Army All-American Bowl has a reputation for producing, such as Vince Young, Desean Jackson and Mark Sanchez, odds are you’ll be seeing several members of the group playing in the NFL Pro Bowl a few years from now.