Posted by Bryan Fischer
ATLANTA -- The top juniors in the state of Georgia became friends all during the week but as soon as they donned the gray and blue uniforms and took to the field at Grady Stadium, just about everybody flipped a switch and turned into competitors.
Though there was a slight talent disparity in favor of the West squad, the East almost pulled off the upset but couldn't convert a blocked punt into points with under a minute left and fell 27-20 in the 2011 edition of the AT&T Georgia Junior Bowl.
The West roster featured plenty of Division I talent and was heavily favored by practice observers with players such as LaGrange (Ga.) linebacker and Alabama commitment Reuben Foster and Newnan (Ga.) and Georgia commit Tray Matthews. The team struggled on offense all night outside of a few big plays but managed to keep the lead thanks to special teams and defense. Foster didn't play as big of a role as many imagined, leaving with a concussion early in the game after making a tackle for a loss and hitting his head.
The two teams took several drives to get their feet under them in fact, before Alpharetta (Ga.) quarterback Joshua Dobbs was inserted for the East squad. He moved the offense efficiently, kept his eyes downfield and easily finished with the best passing numbers in the game, connecting on 20-of-31 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns.
"It was a great game and I had the opportunity to compete against the best talent around Georgia," Dobbs said. "My goal was just to come out here and prove myself, listen to the great speakers and enjoy the entire experience."
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound signal-caller holds just a scholarship offer from Princeton but is hearing from schools such as Duke, Vanderbilt and Stanford. With a good frame and the ability to take off and run (he led the East in rushing with 40 yards), Dobbs could be the latest under the radar recruit to emerge from the Rising Seniors game.
"There was a lot of good talent on the other side of the football," he said. "It always feels good to be successful in any game you play though."
Several all-purpose threats made a big impact for each side and provided some electrifying plays during the few times anybody was in the open field. Marietta (Ga.) running back Tyren Jones was the leading rusher and receiver for the West squad with 116 all-purpose yards and played a major role in his team's victory.
"We came in pretty cocky, we were figuring we were kind of stacked," said Jones. "We knew we were going to come together as a team and pull through with a win.
Jones already has offers from Duke, Georgia and Vanderbilt and could pick up a few more in the coming months after attending several Junior Days throughout the South. He scored go-ahead touchdown late in 4th quarter on a 44 yard run up the middle that showcased his pull-away speed.
Norcross (Ga.) athlete Alvin Kamara also flashed plenty of speed Friday night and should be in line for several more offers beyond the single one he holds from Syracuse.
"They lined me up in the slot so I just tried to come out here and play it as best that I could," Kamara said. "I really found out this week that I'm pretty versatile. I can play running back, catch, run the ball, do it all.
"I feel like I'm a little underrated so playing on (ESPN3.com) helped increase my stock a little bit hopefully."
Kamara appeared to be the fastest player on the field at times and impressed even his opponents with his quickness and ability to turn the corner. He's currently hearing from Georgia Tech and Maryland and could be close to picking up another offer in the next few weeks.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Vienna (Ga.) defensive tackle Montravious Adams had his name called all night among the players in the trenches. He racked up two tackles, a sack, forced a fumble and blocked a punt. It was a standout performance for a player from one of the smaller schools in the state.
"It was a lot harder than from where I'm from," Adams said. "Where I'm from, they're not that big and they're not that strong. If they play like that in college and I play like I did, I'll be a hall of famer."
Adams already holds a Clemson offer and feels Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Florida State are close.
Special teams was the biggest reason why the West was able to win the game. The squad had three blocked punts - one for a touchdown - and had the field position advantage most of the night. Matthews blocked an extra point on the East's final touchdown of the night and played well roaming the secondary at safety. His biggest impact however, was on a 2nd quarter kickoff return that he took 93-yards for a score.
"I was just hoping I'd find a little crease," Matthews said. "I stuttered stepped a little bit. Then I found that hole and burst through it and show everybody my speed. Hit the hole and score the touchdown."
Georgia's class of 2012 is just a few months from signing letter of intents an is among the deepest classes in recent memory. Based on the Rising Juniors game however, the class of 2013 should have no problem stating their case to be just a little bit better.