Top 15 Recruits Already Committed to Playing 2013 Under Armour All-American Game
One of the great things about recruiting these days is the fact that we have several platforms where elite recruits can compete against each other. From the top camps in the spring to various combines, we now can see the best players in the country face off against each other.
What also helps is high schools are now more willing to travel to play other great schools around the country, along with NIKE's The Opening. Another aid in helping see elite recruits play are the post-season all-star games.
One of the best all-star games in the country is The Under Armour All-American Game. Every year many recruits get invited and commit to playing in the game, and this season it will be held on January 4, 2013. From Julio Jones to Matt Barkley and more, this game has always featured great talent.
Here are the top 15 prospects slated to play in this year's game.
15. Dee Liner, DL
Liner is a 6'3", 275 pound defensive lineman from Alabama. He has excellent athleticism for a DL and can play both DE and DT. With his great snap quickness and strength it will be interesting to see him compete against the nation's best offensive lineman.
Look for Liner to raise his level of play and have a big week of practice before the game.
14. Priest Willis, DB
Willis is a big DB that stands 6'2" and already weighs close to 200 pounds. He can play cornerback thanks to his loose hips and cover skills, but Willis likely will row into a safety.
It will be fascinating to see how he fares in man-to-man coverage situations against the top receivers in the country. Robbie Rhodes, Robert Foster, Stacy Coley and Laquon Treadwell will be there and should show us if Willis should stay at CB or move to safety in college.
13. Shane Morris, QB
Morris is committed to play in the UA All-American Game, but I'm not sure if he will play. The 6'3", 190 pound signal caller has mononucleosis and is likely out for his senior season at De La Salle Collegiate in Michigan.
If Morris recovers in time to play, I will be anxious to see how his accuracy looks.
12. Darius James, OL
It'll be great to see the big 6'5", 320 pound mammoth James move around in the trenches during this game. He is a huge man who is very light on his feet.
James likely will play center where he will be matched against some top interior defensive linemen possibly such as Montravius Adams, Dee Liner, Caleb Brantley and Maquedius Bain. That's must-see TV for evaluators like myself and others.
11. Montravius Adams, DT
Adams is a very quick and athletic DT who fits well as a three-technique. He can fire off the ball with solid leverage, rock a blocker with strength, penetrate a gap and pursue a ball carrier or passer with a great burst of speed.
With all of the great OL talent like Darius James, Dorian Johnson and David Dawson in this game, Adams will have his hands full with great matchups.
10. Vonn Bell, S
Seeing Bell patrol around the back end waiting to ball hawk or lay a big hit on a receiver will be great. The Tennessee-born 6'0", 190 pound defensive back is a fantastic prospect who plays with instincts, speed, ball skills and physicality.
Karlos Williams made a big impact in this game a few years ago. Could Bell do the same?
9. Christian Hackenberg, QB
Commitment: Penn State
With his quick release, field vision, accuracy and arm strength Hackenberg will give defenses fits in this game. He can challenge all three levels of the field, and I'm certain he will use the practice week to get in sync with his receiver core because timing and rhythm are a big part of Hackenberg's game.
He should look great during this game and show why he's an elite QB prospect.
8. Kelvin Taylor, RB
Taylor is headed to Florida and will use this game to get ready for Gainesville. The 5'11", 216 pound rock toter has excellent quickness through holes and eludes defenders with ease on the second level.
Natural vision, quick feet, agility and solid speed are other traits of Taylor's game that I love. He will be sure to display his talents with each carry he gets on January 4th.
7. Robert Foster, WR
Defensive backs will be put on notice on the first day of practice about Foster's speed and explosiveness. The 6'2", 190 pound receiver prospect could impact the game on the offensive perimeter, as a punt returner or returning kickoffs.
If Foster gets the football, don't change the channel because chances are he could make a highlight reel play and score.
6. Antonio Conner, S
Prediction: Ole Miss
Conner can play either safety spot and make his presence felt all night long. I expect him to be one of the more competitive players in the game, putting a slight more emphasis on winning the game than the next player.
His 6'1", 200 pound frame, great speed, instincts and athleticism should see him make several tackles and plays on the football during the game.
5. Matthew Thomas, OLB
Prediction: Florida State
Thomas is the top outside linebacker in the country at 6'3", 210 pounds. I expect Thomas to be all over the field thanks to his range, speed, quickness and athleticism.
Also look for Thomas to notch a sack or several QB pressure due to his great blitzing and pass rushing skills off the edge. Could we be looking at a Defensive Player of the Game?
4. Carl Lawson, DE
Seeing the 6'2", 255 pound Lawson go against potential opponents like Dorian Johnson, Darius James, David Dawson, Colin McGovern and Hunter Bivin could be a sight to see. I want to see how Lawson fares when he tries to shed and escape the clutches of the nation's top blockers.
If he shows improved stacking strength to set the edges, Lawson could leave the game approaching Robert Nkemdiche's No. 1 DE prospect status.
3. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB
Hargreaves is the top cover corner in the country and stands 5'11", 180 pounds. With his great technique, anticipation, awareness, speed and athleticism he should do great at this game.
He'll need all of his skill set because Robert Foster, Laquon Treadwell, Stacy Coley and Robbie Rhodes will definitely want a piece of him either in practice or during the game. I can't wait for these matchups.
2. Reuben Foster, LB
Foster should be plugged in the middle from the first day in practice and allowed to do his thing. This guy can flat out control a game from the linebacker position and the 6'2" Auburn pledge is close to 250 pounds.
His ball vision, speed, quickness and instincts will be needed down after down to track some of the nation's best running backs who will in this game.
1. Robert Nkemdiche, DE
Yes, the nation's No. 1 prospect will be playing in this game, and if you have yet to see Nkemdiche play, then you get to see what all the hype is about. He will be a physically imposing 6'4", 270 pound beast showing off excellent power, athleticism, speed, tenacity and strength all night.
Everyone will be gunning for Nkemdiche because of his No. 1 ranking, but he will welcome it. Look for him to excel at playing both the run and pass when he's in.
Edwin Weathersby has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects & writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (now ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.