The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is back for the 14th time and will take place at 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, Jan. 4, on NBC. It's a must-watch for any football fan, as these kids could play for your favorite college team and will eventually become the superstars of the NFL. DeSean Jackson, Vince Young and Reggie Bush are just some of the names who have participated in this popular event.
And while this is nothing more than a chance for some of the best high school players to shine one last time before packing their bags for the collegiate level, it's still a game at the end of the day. Kids want to win and are going to play hard, which opens the door for bold predictions.
In this year's matchup, the game will finally be competitive, a Baylor wide receiver will win MVP honors and there will be a few commitment surprises.
Elisha Shaw won't participate in the big game due to a neck injury, but he is expected to make his commitment. The talented defensive lineman has included Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Florida State and Auburn in his top five.
The Tigers seen to be heavy underdogs in the race. However, here's what he told Barton Simmons of 247Sports about the program: “I like how they turned everything around. Coach (Dameyune) Craig – that’ s my dude, man, and (Rodney) Garner, we have a real good bond.”
It wouldn't be surprising for him to stay close to home by picking Georgia. He'll also fit in well on a youthful and up-and-coming Ole Miss defense. But imagine Shaw and Carl Lawson on the same defensive front.
Auburn is also playing for a national title under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn. What's not to like?
Brian Wallace, a 4-star offensive lineman, is expected to announce his commitment between Arkansas and Alabama, according to
Running back is a position to watch closely in this game. As usual, the position is absolutely loaded, with guys such as Nick Chubb, Elijah Hood and Joe Mixon expected to carry the load. But Sony Michel will prove that he's slightly better than all of those names.
From underrated power to elite acceleration and vision, Michel is the total package at the position. His only knock is that he doesn't have jaw-dropping top-end speed, but that happens to be a myth. Michel is more than capable of pulling away from defenders and leaving potential tacklers in the dust. He's just a natural runner who appears ready for immediate playing time in Georgia.
That's right, Bulldogs, you did it again.
Tight end Bryce Dixon will announce his decision between UCLA and USC. Oh, don't you just love it? And just like on the football field, the Bruins are expected to run away with this one. Dixon didn't sound too high on USC when speaking with Barton Simmons of 247Sports (subscription required):
“I was supposed to call Coach Sarkisian for like a week straight, but my head has been somewhere else. It’s been on this (Army) game, really.”
Doesn't sound great if you're a Trojans fan, but don't it let bug you too much. Somebody should tell Dixon that USC has been a school that consistently uses the tight end in the passing game. Anthony McCoy finished second on the team in receiving yards in 2009. Rhett Ellison was also a key part in the offense, while Xavier Grimble has established himself as one of the best at the position.
You get the ball as a tight end at USC. UCLA, however, hasn't had a productive receiving tight end in two years. Dixon will come around when it's time to make his announcement.
Urban Meyer got himself a good one when linebacker Dante Booker committed to Ohio State. The 6'3" outside linebacker will be one of the few missing pieces the Buckeyes need to help take their defense to the next level.
Not only is his frame impressive, but he changes directions quickly, and his physical presence jumps off the screen. This guy wants to get physical, help out in the running game and drop the hammer on the ball-carrier. This aggressive style of play should bode well in an All-Star Game where most are looking to make a few big plays and leave the game healthy.
Booker is going to make his presence felt.
It's tough to project exactly who will have the biggest breakout game. We're talking about some of the top high school players in the country sharing the same football field. Everybody should shine. But let's make a prediction anyway: KD Cannon will grab your attention more than any other player in the game.
Cannon isn't the fastest and needs to bulk up his 6'0", 160-pound frame, but it's hard to pinpoint any other receiver in this class who has better hands. He catches just about anything thrown his way and has excellent body control as well. He's also creative in the open field and can house any reception when given the opportunity.
The 5-star receiver gave his verbal commitment to Baylor, and he should thrive. But until that time comes, he'll outplay every other player on the field.
The most passing yards in U.S. Army All-American Bowl history is 179, which was set by Tajh Boyd in 2009. It's going to take a couple of big plays to top that record considering there are plenty of great quarterbacks who are jockeying for playing time in this game.
But if there's anybody who can top that performance, it's Jacob Park. The Georgia commitment is arguably the best quarterback on either roster. He gets rid of the ball quickly, throws with tremendous zip and has enough arm strength to put the ball down field and produce the big plays it's going to take to break this record.
Park will easily show Georgia fans that the sky isn't falling with Aaron Murray soon to graduate.
One of the best cornerbacks in the country, Marshon Lattimore, is expected to pick Ohio State. He's from Cleveland, and all 53 predictions on 247Sports have him staying in the area and becoming a Buckeye.
But when was the last time Nick Saban lost out on a top recruit?
I'm sure you can pick a handful of guys in each recruiting class, but out of the hundreds of kids each season, he doesn't miss out on many of the top recruits. He finds a way to twist their arms and eventually get them to sign on the dotted line.
You never bet against the New York Yankees during the postseason, and you never bet against Saban when it comes to anything football related.
Running back Joe Mixon is one of the biggest names who will announce his commitment during the game. His top three schools include UCLA, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. While the Sooners are probably the front-runners, Mixon would be wise to pick the Bruins.
It's not even funny how banged-up the Bruins are at running back. The situation is so bad that linebacker Myles Jack has had to carry most of the load, and he may actually be the best running back on the roster. With the lack of depth and inconsistency at the position, Mixon would have a great chance to see considerable carries from day one at UCLA.
Oklahoma already has a talented running back in Keith Ford and is getting a solid 2014 commitment in Samaje Perine. The guaranteed playing time isn't there right away if he picks the team from the Big 12.
Mixon will end up staying close to his home in California by picking UCLA.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl has taken place each year since 2000, and incredibly, only three of those games have been decided by a touchdown or less. While the overall talent makes the game worth watching, most would still like to see a little competition between both teams. We're likely to get that this year.
Well, because anything else would be uncivilized. Both teams have players who want to make plays and give college football fans just a glimpse of what they're capable of, but they also want to win. You don't put in the work and practice your tail off just to flop on national television. You put all of this talent on one field and the competition level will shoot through the roof.
Whether it's a last-minute interception returned for a touchdown or a Hail Mary pass that is caught, this game will be the most exciting yet in U.S. Army All-American Bowl history.