When not busy dressing the Maryland Terrapins like an XFL team or producing inane commercials with Steve Spurrier (picks up phone . . ."Yeah, this the Head Ball Coach . . . I told you he could drink like a fish and party like it's 1999!") the folks at Under Armour also host one of the national high school all-star games going on this week. Like the Semper Fidelis game which we previewed on Tuesday this one has a lot of players for Bulldog fans to keep an eye on.
The Under Armour All American game began in 2008 and has become a major draw for big time recruits from across the country. That first UA game featured future All-SEC performers and first round draft picks A. J. Green and Julio Jones among others, and the game has only grown from there, largely in symbiosis with Under Armour's increasing prominence in the athletic apparel game.
Three Georgia commits and a host of Bulldog targets should feature prominently in the game. Tailback Keith Marshall, perhaps the crown jewel of the Bulldog class, will be in the backfield for the White team. Marshall has drawn positive reviews during practice for the game by demonstrating the speed everyone knew he had, but also a willingness to run hard between the tackles. Marshall also appears to have put on some weight over the 190 pounds he's listed at. Finally, he's reported to have been recruiting nonstop for the Bulldogs, even working on players like Aberdeen, Mississippi's Channing Ward who have shown little interest in the Dawgs.
Marshall will be joined on the White team by Jenkins County standout and fellow Bulldog pledge Jonathan Taylor. Taylor has also drawn praise this week for his combination of size and athleticism. At 6'4 and 320 pounds Taylor is hopefully the next jumbo nose tackle in Todd Grantham's 3-4. He's in great shape for his size and quicker than a guy that size should be. Taylor had a tendency to lose focus against lesser competition in high school. I'll be watching this evening to see how he does against guys on his own level.
The White will also feature Bulldog commit John Atkins of Thomson, who could be one of the real sleepers in this class. Atkins will likely end up at defensive end in Athens, unless he grows into a nose. That's a real possibility, as his high school coach recently reported that his star player is up to 305 pounds. Oh, Atkins is also the goalkeeper for the Thomson soccer team and, as you saw if you clicked on the link above, played some tight end. Think about that for a moment.
Also keep an eye on Brandon Greene, an offensive tackle from Cedar Grove High in Ellenwood. Greene recently reaffirmed his verbal pledge to the Alabama Crimson Tide, though I wouldn't count on the Georgia staff backing off. Greene is an excellent pass blocker for his age, and could really grow into a good one down the road.
He'll be joined by another Georgia offensive line target, Palm Beach Gardens tackle Avery Young. Young had appeared to be down to Georgia and Auburn before recently reopening his recruitment following an in home visit with Nick Saban. Young spent much of his childhood in Cuthbert and is the cousin of former 'Dawg Thomas Davis. In the end I think Auburn will still be the main competition for him. Young may not be as ready to play right now as Greene, but he has a ton of upside if he fills out and develops the technique to match his current athletic ability.
The Black team includes Tampa star Nelson Agholor, who will not be participating in the game because of injury. Agholor is an electric playmaker, but unfortunately it appears he's headed to either Gainesville or South Bend, despite a dogged effort on the part of the Georgia coaches. Agholor's as good as anyone in the country with the ball in his hands, and it's a shame we won't get to see him in this game. Almost as much of a shame as the fact that we likely won't see him in Athens.
Suiting up for the Black will be Creekside cornerback Josh Holsey, who reconfirmed his Auburn pledge in November after taking an official visit to Athens. Holsey is a smaller corner tham Coach Lakatos appears to prefer, but he's speedy and tenacious. We'll see more of him in the future.
Also playing in the game is Banneker High defensive back Chaz Elder. Elder is down to Georgia and South Carolina, but has appeared for some time to be favoring the Gamecocks. I wouldn't count Georgia out of it on this one, but I'd be sorely tempted to. He'll announce his choice from among the Bulldogs, Gamecocks, and Vanderbilt Commodores at tonight's game.
The Under Armour All-American Bowl will be televised tonight at 7:30 on ESPN.