Tag:2012 Under Armour Game
Posted on: January 6, 2012 1:20 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 1:20 am

Under Armour game features plenty of drama

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Talented recruits from across the across the country descended on Tropicana Field for the fifth-annual Under Armour All-American Game and just like past events, there was plenty of drama.

Off the field.

The verbal commitments that take place at the game, televised nationally on ESPN, are one of the draws of the event but the focus is usually on how well the two squads of four- and five-star recruits perform against each other. With a blowout win for Team Blur, 49-16, putting the game in the books well before halftime, attention naturally turned to the biggest announcement of the evening in Blur and Geismar (La.) safety Landon Collins.

Ranked by MaxPreps as the #1 safety in the country and #12 player overall in the class of 2012, the talented Collins was expected to end a tough battle between national title contenders Alabama and LSU.

"I'm going to go Roll Tide Roll," Collins said, putting on an Alabama hat. "I just love the coaches and the coaching staff."

What happened next however, was yet another 'only in recruiting' stories. Collins mother, April, visibly was not happy with the decision and gave an extremely awkward interview following her son's commitment.

"I feel that LSU is a better place for him to be," April Collins said. "LSU Tigers #1. Go Tigers."

The interview overshadowed the 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety's great performance on the field. Collins intercepted BYU commit Tanner Mangum's pass in the middle of the second quarter and racked up four tackles on the night, including a vicious hit that stood up running back and Maryland commit Wes Brown at the goal line to prevent a touchdown.

Collins, on and off Tropicana Field, produced some of the only highlights for Team Highlight. Clad in black uniforms, the squad got off to a bad start by allowing a 75-yard touchdown pass from Florida State-bound quarterback Jameis Winston to speedy Alabama commit Amari Cooper.

"Practice was great and going up against this great competition was just another way to get better before college," Cooper said after the game.

Team Highlight had issues on offense all night, turning the ball over five times and finishing with just 260 yards of offense.

Part of the problem was their lack of quarterback play. Texas commit and top 100 signal-caller Connor Brewer suffered a mild concussion and Miami-bound quarterback Preston Dewey was held out to an injury suffered earlier in the week. As a result, Mangum ended up switching teams at halftime and donning a black #20 jersey with 'Under' on the nameplate.

"That's my new name for the week I guess," Mangum said with a smile. "It was pretty interesting to play for both teams but you just try to go with the flow and do the best that you can."

Mangum finished 5-of-8 for 60 yards and an interception for Team Blur and 2-of-7 with two picks for Team Highlight. Though the final stat line wasn't pretty - he was under siege by the defensive lines most of the night - the opportunity to be the all-star, all-time quarterback was a pretty special experience.

"I guess you could say that," he said. "I didn't expect that when I woke up this morning."

Recent Georgia pledge Keith Marshall led Blur in rushing with 37 yards and added a touchdown while Miami commit Randy Johnson led Highlight with 50 yards on the ground. Winston was named team MVP after completing 8-of-9 for 178 yards and two touchdowns while Mangum was named MVP on the other side.

Oklahoma commit De'Vante Harris was one of four players on Team Blur to have seven tackles, tied with recently committed Ole Miss defensive end Channing Ward who also added two sacks to his total. Playing out of position at defensive tackle, uncommitted recruit Jordan Jenkins led all defenders with eight tackles and had two sacks. Teammate and future Ohio State Buckeye Noah Spence was a terror at the defensive end position and finished with seven tackles and three sacks.

"Both of them are really good," Mangum said, with emphasis, when asked to compare the two defenses. "They have really good players and it didn't really matter what team I was on. It was fun to be here in this environment though."

Cooper added a 93-yard punt return early in the 4th quarter to get the near-record crowd on its feet. The return set the record for the longest punt return for a touchdown in the game's history and tied teammate and Florida-bound cornerback Brian Poole’s 93-yard interception return as the longest touchdown play.

Mangum, who will go on a two-year Morman mission and was playing in his last football game for at least that long, the experience was a once and a lifetime opportunity and one he'll remember for years to come.

"it was a great learning experience that I can take back and learn from," he said. "It was a great test and I'll take a lot from it." 

Including, perhaps, to keep your mother happy.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:38 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 12:23 am

Top safety Landon Collins commits to Alabama

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- There's nothing harder to do in recruiting than pull a highly ranked player out of LSU's back yard but it appears that's just what Nick Saban has done. Geismar (La.) safety Landon Collins made things official at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game and surprisingly committed to Alabama.

"I'm going to go Roll Tide Roll," Collins said. "I just love the coaches and the coaching staff."

"It's a big weight off.

Things were slightly awkward after the top safety put on the crimson Alabama hat on national television however. Collins mother, April, verbally disagreed with the decision and said that the Tigers were the number one team and where he should be committing to.

"My mom is not going to affect my decision," he said. "I made up my mind two years ago."

Collins informed his mother the decision last week but kept it a secret beyond immediate family members. This included coaches from both schools, undoubtedly watching from New Orleans, with Saban and his staff likely much, much happier than his mother.

"It was kind of funny to me since I knew how she felt already when I told her," Collins said. "She felt kind of bad. She wasn't about to come (to the game) because of my decision. She's genuinely upset, it's not a show."

When asked if his mother could talk him out of the decision by Signing Day, the answer was quite blunt from the top safety.

"No," he said. "Maybe (she'll try). Probably."

April Collins isn't likely to be the only person in the home state upset with the decision. The Tigers have typically had top players on lockdown and rarely do they end up someplace other than Baton Rouge - one of the few notable examples was when number one overall player Joe McKnight left for USC. Collins is confident in his decision though and knows that the support will still be there from those that know him best.

"I'm expecting a lot of backlash," Collins said. "But a lot of people said they'd support me wherever I'd go. I'm not really worried about it, it's my life and my decision and I'm going to have to live it and not them."

Collins was one of the top performers at the annual all-star game, picking off a pass and making a big hit near the goal line to prevent a score. Just days away from the national championship, plenty of Alabama fans were able to get a glimpse of someone who they're hoping can get them back to the title game and make a similar impact - as soon as next season.

"I'm getting playing time no matter what," Collins said. "I'm going to play safety and if I do my thing, I'm going to be a starting safety. I'm planning on going to start at nickel."

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive back took in the 'Game of the Century' between the two schools in November on an official visit to Tuscaloosa and went to LSU in early December. It was pretty much a race between just the two programs for most of the year with the Tide ending up with the talented Louisiana safety.

"I love the place, I always felt at home when I went there," he said. "I love the coaching staff, I love the players and I just wanted to get out of Louisiana I guess.

"I wanted to go to LSU at one point but I decided to go to Alabama to get out of town and see something new."

Collins was selected as the state's 'Mr. Football' after a senior campaign which featured 45 tackles and four interceptions (two for touchdowns) on defense and over 1,200 yards and 21 touchdowns as a running back on offense.

“He’s just a special athlete," Dutchtown coach Benny Saia told MaxPreps. “He makes big things happen.”

Ranked as the top safety in the country by MaxPreps, the five-star is 12th overall in the class of 2012. Collins becomes Alabama's 26th commitment with less than a month to go before Signing Day. Athlete Cyrus Jones committed to the Crimson Tide earlier in the evening.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:31 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 12:10 am

Top 100 athlete Cyrus Jones selects Alabama

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Baltimore (Md.) athlete Cyrus Jones was one of several athletes to announce Thursday Night at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game in front of a national audience and didn't surprise many by picking Alabama over Virginia Tech.

"The people down there really care about you and I felt most comfortable there," Jones said. "I'm ready to go spend four years there and make my dreams come true and get to the next level.

"Alabama is just a place that I fell in love with right off the bat. Great people, great coaches and great guys going to the school already. I'm ready to get down there and get the knowledge from the coaches already to make my dreams come true and play in the NFL."

The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder will likely head to college as a slot receiver but is versatile enough to play just about any skill position. Jones had offers from just about every program in the country but will head to Tuscaloosa as part of a huge recruiting haul for the Tide.

"I'm going to be playing slot, kind of what Marquis Maze is doing right now," he said. "I'm going to do punt returns and kick returns, stuff like that. Running routes and taking sweeps too, just trying to be explosive and use my talent. I want to make the best of my opportunity."

Jones informed the Alabama staff about a month ago of the decision and though he kept it a secret from just about everybody, is another great addition to the program's upcoming class.

"He's another ball player who can play on either side of the ball, return kicks and has proven to be a sure-handed and instinctive ball player with excellent leaping ability, timing and anticipation," analyst Tom Lemming said. "A big play receiver who seems to possess all the tools for future stardom. He's remarkable in the open field and once he latches onto the ball, look out. He turns up field quickly and shows good moves and superior speed. Quick as a cat, he can get in and out of his breaks like no one's business, he dominates most games, and must be double teamed at all times."

Jones is ranked as 7th best athlete in the class of 2012 by Maxpreps and 88th overall. He rushed for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior season in addition to catching 39 passes for 635 yards and six touchdowns.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:43 pm

Defensive back Chaz Elder commits to S. Carolina

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- College Park (Ga.) defensive back Chaz Elder was one of the top uncommitted players in the South and had two SEC programs going after his services hard. Elder disappointed one staff and fan base on Thursday by announcing he was going to South Carolina at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game.

"I like everything about the (program)," Elder said. " The DB's, they have five of them on the field at the same time."

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Elder was also seriously considering Georgia but had the Gamecocks in front during most of his recruitment. He is ranked by Maxpreps as the the 15th best safety in the country but can also play safety.

"Chaz shows good instincts and anticipation," analyst Tom Lemming said. "Loose-hipped, he can turn and run and is known for his hard hitting style of play. Not yet a super but shows flashes of brilliance. He needs to become more consistent.."

Posted on: January 5, 2012 8:25 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 8:25 pm

Channing Ward set for Ole Miss

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Aberdeen (Miss.) defensive end/linebacker Channing Ward was pretty sure he knew where he was going at the beginning of the week but it wasn't until informed coaches on Wednesday and he actually put on the hat on national television before it became a reality. One of the top players at his position, Ward announced he was going to Ole Miss Thursday Night at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game at Tropicana Field.

"I'm going to the University of Mississippi," Ward said. "I feel like I'm at home and I get taken care of and get to play with my brother."

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound defensive end is versitle enough to also play outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. He had narrowed his choices to Ole Miss, Alabama and Mississippi State but felt that Oxford was the place for him.

"Channing keeps good pad level and plays the game on his feet," analyst Tom Lemming said. "He makes plays from sideline to sideline, is excellent in pursuit, very active, and shows a good closing burst. Blessed with long arms, quick feet, and excellent growth potential."

Ward had a very productive senior season, racking up 116 tackles and 16 sacks. He was named a 2011 Air Force Second team All-American by Maxpreps and ranked 9th in the country at the outside linebacker position.

Ward becomes the 14th commitment for Ole Miss' class of 2012 and a major victory for new head coach Hugh Freeze.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 8:12 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 8:13 pm

Wes Brown commits at Under Armour to Maryland

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It came down to a few for Olney (Md.) running back Wes Brown and while he looked far and wide as to where he wanted to go to school, there was just one place that was right for him. The top back announced he was going to Maryland Thursday Night at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game in front of a national cable audience in the middle of the game.

"I'm going to Maryland," Brown said. "Just staying at home with my mom and make sure everything is alright. My support is at home."

The 6-foot, 200-pound tailback is versatile enough to play in just about any system but liked the fit in College Park. He had also considered Florida, Vanderbilt, Miami and Virginia Tech.

"He has decent size, he's very fast, and very smart," analyst Tom Lemming said. "Quick footed, he runs hard on every carry, shows good patience and pad level, can pick and slide, and does a good job of finding the hole. He has also turned into an outstanding receiver. One of the more reliable backs on the Atlantic coast, he can get the job done as a runner, receiver, or blocker.."

Brown turned in a stellar senior season despite injuries by accounting for 1,381 yards and 22 touchdowns on his program's run to a state title. He is ranked as the 11th best tailback in the country by Maxpreps and accordingly gives a boost to the upcoming Terps class of 2012.

Posted on: April 9, 2011 8:52 am

4/9 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Headed out to the Elite 11 competition at TCU later today. Should be a great chance to get a good look at some of the top Texas quarterbacks.

- The 2012 Under Armour game picked up commitments to play in the all-star competition from defensive end Adolphus Washington and wide receiver Dwayne Stanford.

- Florida linebacker commit Jeremi Powell picked up an offer from rival Alabama.

- Carrollton (Texas) athlete Kiante Griffin has committed to Baylor.

- A Q&A with top Georgia running back Keith Marshall.

- USC commit Jordan Payton is planning to visit Arkansas soon.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com