As Dawg Sports' Recruiting Czar, I've been previewing this year's slate of national high school all-star games. So far we've looked at the Semper Fidelis game and the Under Armour showcase. Now it's time for the granddaddy of them all, so far as these little exhibitions go: the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The U.S Army game has been around for over a decade. Originally organized by prominent recruiting analyst and Notre Dame homer Tom Lemming, it has been the coming out party for a lot of the best college football players in the land. In terms of overall talent, it's still probably a step ahead of the Under Armour game, and way ahead of the newly-minted Semper Fidelis bowl which Lemming is now selling. If you want to see the best high school football players in the land, your best bet is to tune it to NBC this afternoon at 1 p.m. eastern.
Among other prospects in action will be Lowndes Viking Josh Harvey-Clemons, regarded by many recruiting analysts as the top player in the state of Georgia for 2012. Clemons is a 6'4, 210 pounder who could play any number of positions at the next level. Georgia and Florida are his two leaders at this point, and both are recruiting him to play outside linebacker. It's not inconceivable that he could also play safety, or inside linebacker. At one point Alabama was recruiting him with the promise that he could play wide receiver. Harvey-Clemons reminds me a lot of current Bulldog Alec Ogletree, though I don't think he's quite as physical a defender and he may be just a little more agile in coverage. For my money, he's the #1 target left on our board at this point.
Harvey-Clemons will be joined on the East Team by UGA offensive line commit John Theus. Theus is perhaps the top offensive tackle prospect in the country, and easily in the top 3. He's been ranked as the top overall prospect in the state of Florida. If all goes according to plan, he'll be the guy guarding Aaron Murray's back by 2013, and helping ease the transition for Murray's successor thereafter. He's a good but not great pass blocker at this point, but does an excellent job getting low and driving guys off the ball on running plays, especially given his height (6'6).
Theus will be blocking for Stephenson tailback Mike Davis, another Bulldog target. There have been some rumblings that Davis favors Georgia, but he has no plans to announce his choice just yet. Davis has good speed and elusiveness, and most important the vision to find daylight and get downfield. Whereas Keith Marshall has a reputation as a "speed back" and Ken Malcome is a "big back" Davis is sort of an all purpose guy. My guess is that if North Carolina standout Todd Gurley announces a commitment to Georgia next week you'll see Davis head to either South Carolina or Clemson, with Tennessee an outside possibility as well.
On the defensive side of the ball the East will feature Tampa standout Tyriq McCord, who's actually scheduled to commit at the game. The rumor had been that academic concerns scared some schools aware from McCord. Nevertheless, he's drawn interest from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina among others. McCord projects as a linebacker in our system, though whether it would be inside or outside is up for debate. If I had to guess his commitment at this point I'd bet on South Carolina. But I'm not 100% certain that McCord won't have to detour to a junior college before getting to Columbia.
McCord will be joined on the defense by New Jersey standout Yuri Wright. Wright is a big-hitting safety out of powerhouse Don Bosco Prep who is set to take an official visit to Athens later this month, perhaps the weekend of January 20th. While you can never tell what will happen if you can get a kid on campus, I think Wright is more likely to end up at Rutgers, Notre Dame or Michigan than in the SEC. It's just asking too much to expect a kid who's never been to Athens to come down for a weekend and fall so in love with the place that he decides to spend the next five years of his life there. If however Wright does choose the Bulldogs, I'll be ecstatic. He's one of the most versatile safeties in the country, with cornerback speed, good size and nice instincts.
Also playing will be Buford linebacker Dillon Lee, the brother of Bulldog offensive lineman Dallas Lee and an early enrollee at Alabama and Stone Mountain linebacker and Florida State commit Markuss Eligwe, two guys who the Bulldogs tried unsuccessfully to sway during the past couple of months. Lee in particular looks ready to contribute in college immediately. I really hate that we missed on him.
The West squad will feature California DB Brandon Beaver, who recently received some increased interest from Georgia but is unlikely to come east to play here. Still, I suppose there's a chance. Other players of note include Auburn QB commit Zeke Pike, a legend in his own mind, receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, perhaps the top prospect in the country, and recent Stanford commitment Barry Sanders, Jr. Yes, you're that old. Also worth watching will be St. Pius X cornerback Geno Smith, an Alabama commit.
Feel free to use this space as an open comment thread if you're watching the game. As always, random recruiting talk is also welcome in this space. Until later . . .