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December 30, 2011
Rivals.com State of Florida analyst Chris Nee previews the top storylines to follow for the upcoming Under Armour All-American Game.
Practices are held at Disney's Wide World of Sports in the Orlando area throughout the week. The game is played at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.
1. Quarterbacks galore
The Black Team roster has Texas commitment Connor Brewer, who is the top-ranked quarterback for the squad. He is joined by a signal-caller from the Lone Star State in Preston Dewey, who is bound for Miami. Rounding out the Black Team trio is Clemson commitment Chad Kelly.
The White Team roster has quarterbacks spanning from coast-to-coast in California's Zach Kline, a California commit, Idaho's Tanner Mangum, a BYU commit, and Alabama's Jameis Winston, a Florida State commit. Winston is considered the top dual-threat quarterback in the Rivals.com rankings, but watch out for Magnum as he showed he can compete with the best at the Elite 11 this past summer.
It will be a battle all week in practice to see who takes the first snap for their teams on Jan. 5, but there is no doubt both teams have quarterbacks that can make big plays downfield with their arms while some are also capable of doing damage with their feet.
2. Speed to burn
The quarterbacks aren't the only dangerous weapons in the offensive backfield. Both teams have a lot of talent at the running back position.
The Black team has Texas commitment Johnathan Gray, whose high school stats are eye-popping, and he is joined by an another explosive back in Miami commitment Randy Johnson. Johnson could also prove to be a major asset on special teams as a returner.
3. Great battles on the outside
All-Star games tend to be pass-heavy, so that means that it will be a great battle between the wide receivers and defensive backs for both squads. Some possible matchups that could develop during the game include Nelson Agholor, an uncommitted five-star, battling with Notre Dame commitment Ronald Darby or Florida commitment Brian Poole. It could also mean a preview of an Iron Bowl battle as White Team wide receivers such as Amari Cooper and Chris Black, both of whom are committed to Alabama, could face future Auburn defensive back Joshua Holsey of the Black Team.
Other Black Team receivers include Miami commitment Angelo Jean-Louis, Auburn commitment Ricardo Louis, Oklahoma commitment Sterling Shepard, as well as Texas commitments Thomas Johnson and Cayleb Jones. Other defensive backs for the White Team include Oklahoma commitment De'Vante Harris, Alabama commitment Eddie Williams, Florida State commitment P.J. Williams, and uncommitted prospects such as Cyrus Jones and Lucas Thompson.
Other White Team receivers include LSU commitment Avery Johnson, Florida commitment Latroy Pittman, Tennessee commitment Alton Howard and Florida State commitment Marvin Bracy. Also, undecided prospects such as Trey Griffey and Darius Powe. The Black Team defensive backs are filled out with Texas commitment Bryson Echols, Michigan commitment Terry Richardson, and four uncommitted defensive backs - Landon Collins, Chaz Elder, Trae Elston and Davonte Neal.
4. Who will win the trenches?
Another spot where there will be some great battles is up-front. The White Team has defensive ends Chris Casher, Dante Fowler Jr., and Mario Edwards, all Florida State commitments, up-front sharing duties with uncommitted defensive end Channing Ward. They will be squaring off with offensive tackles for the Black Team including uncommitted standouts Andrus Peat and Avery Young, as well as Clemson commitment Patrick Destefano and Texas commitment Kennedy Estelle.
The interior defensive line for the White Team consists of Alabama commitment Dakota Ball, Ole Miss commitment Issac Gross, Georgia commitment Jonathan Taylor and uncommitted prospect Korren Kirven. They will be battling with Black Team interior offensive linemen such as Clemson commitment Jay Guillermo, Missouri commitment Evan Boehm and Texas commitment Curtis Riser.
The Black Team defensive line is led in the middle. Texas commitments - Malcolm Brown and Alex Norman - are two big stoppers in the middle and they will share duties with uncommitted prospects Eddie Goldman and Leonard Williams. On the outside they have the talents of Ohio State commitment Noah Spence, TCU commitment Devonte Fields, as well as an uncommitted pair in Jordan Jenkins and Ifeadi Odenigbo.
Tasked with the job of slowing down the Black Team offensive line is players such as Mississippi State commitment Devon Desper, LSU commitment Vadal Alexander, Georgia commitment John Atkins, Alabama commitment Brandon Greene and Florida commitment Jessamen Dunker.
5. A glimpse into the future
Under Armour week gets kicked off on New Year's Eve with the Under Armour Combine, which brings in top junior talent from around the nation for a one-day event. Some top-tier names will participate including defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, safety Marcell Harris, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, running back Altee Tenpenny, tight end Standish Dobard and offensive tackle Kyle Bosch.
New names will emerge from the event as well, they do every year.