Winners and Losers of the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game
Several top recruits, including No. 1 overall prospect Leonard Fournette, made their commitment announcements at the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday.
While LSU was a big winner by pulling in Fournette, the Tigers missed on several other top recruits, including in-state target Speedy Noil, which made the day less than perfect for Les Miles and company.
Noil pulled the trigger for Texas A&M and had an enormous performance on the field. One of his fellow Aggies also shined at Tropicana Field on Thursday.
Team Highlight, coached by Steve Mariucci, topped Herm Edwards' Team Nitro, 31-21.
Click on to see which programs won the recruiting tug-o-war, which prospects shined and which teams suffered heartbreak.
Note: All ratings based on the 247Sports Composite Rankings, unless otherwise noted.
Winner: Texas A&M
Texas A&M started the Under Armour All-America Game with a bang, as it pulled in a commitment from the No. 1 receiver in the nation—composite 5-star Speedy Noil—during the first quarter.
The Aggies owned the first frame, as 5-star defensive end commit Myles Garrett had a huge quarter. The Arlington, Texas native tallied four tackles for a loss in the first 15 minutes of play.
Noil added to Texas A&M's big day with a 64-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. He finished with a team-high 116 all-purpose yards, including three receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.
While the Aggies might be going forward without Johnny Manziel, they still have plenty of promise for the future with athletes like Garrett and Noil in the fold.
It's tough to call LSU a loser after it pulled in the No. 1 overall prospect in running back Leonard Fournette as well as 5-star safety Jamal Adams.
However, the Tigers had even higher hopes of going 5-for-5 and taking commitments from Tony Brown, Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis as well.
They missed out on Brown, who was long believed to be leaning toward Baton Rouge. They also lost two top in-state recruits: Noil and Willis out of Edna Karr in New Orleans.
After LSU missed on that trio, Fournette brought in a 36-yard touchdown reception and went straight over to ESPN's Dari Nowkhah to ease the Tigers' pain. Another plus for LSU was tight end commit Jacory Washington, who recorded the game's first touchdown.
While LSU posted a big win with Fournette, the day could have been better.
Winners: Defensive Ends
Myles Garrett: Committed to Texas A&M
Da'Shawn Hand: Committed to Alabama
Lorenzo Carter: Considering Georgia, LSU, Florida
Chad Thomas: Committed to Miami
As previously mentioned, Garrett had a monstrous game that included four tackles for a loss in the first quarter alone. He finished with six total tackles, four tackles for a loss and a sack.
While he rose above the rest with his closing speed and athleticism, he wasn't the only defensive end to make his presence known.
Alabama commit and No. 4 overall prospect Da'Shawn Hand showed why he is regarded as one of the nation's best players with a sack in the second quarter. Miami commit Chad Thomas added a sack as well, swallowing up LSU commit Brandon Harris.
Uncommitted prospect Lorenzo Carter also had a big day, notching a team-high six tackles, a fumble recovery and 1.5 tackles for a loss while also assisting Thomas on his sack.
Key Losses: RB Leonard Fournette, WR Travis Rudolph, CB Jalen Tabor
Key Commitment: CB Tony Brown
Alabama brought in one of the bigger surprise commitments on the day, stealing Tony Brown away from LSU.
However, the Crimson Tide also missed out on No. 1 prospect Leonard Fournette in addition to receiver Travis Rudolph and corner Jalen Tabor.
Tabor was the biggest surprise, choosing Arizona over 'Bama. He made that choice sting for the Tide faithful with his impressive play in the game, which included a textbook pass breakup and a tackle for a loss.
Rudolph also played well after choosing FSU earlier in the game. The West Palm Beach, Fla., native pulled in a 10-yard touchdown reception in traffic and made several other nice grabs. He finished with four receptions for 48 yards and a score.
While nabbing Brown, one of the best athletes in the 2014 class, is a big plus, the other losses soured Alabama's day.
Winner: RB Jeff Jones
Committed: Minnesota (also considering Florida)
Going into this game, most eyes were on No. 1 running back Leonard Fournette. Others were watching No. 2 back Dalvin Cook, who switched his commitment from Florida to Florida State earlier this week.
However, Jeff Jones stole the show—and he also might be replacing Cook in Florida's 2014 class.
He received a scholarship offer from the Gators this week and will take a visit to Gainesville on Jan. 24, as seen on his 247Sports profile.
The Minneapolis native took that momentum onto the field and had an outstanding performance running and receiving out of the backfield. He capped his strong day with an 18-yard touchdown reception from Oregon commit Morgan Mahalak in the fourth quarter.
He showed off a great blend of size, power and speed that will make him a success at Minnesota, Florida or wherever he ends up at the next level.
Winner: CB Adoree' Jackson
Considering: USC, Florida and others
While several top recruits announced their commitments, Adoree' Jackson is one of the prime prospects still available in the 2014 class.
And during the game, the Gardena, Calif., native showed why.
In the second quarter, he made an acrobatic interception of Michigan commit Wilton Speight in the back of the end zone. Tiptoeing on the back line, he pulled down a pick and touched both feet down in bounds.
Wherever he ends up, he'll likely make an immediate impact.
Winner: QB Michael O'Connor
Committed: Penn State
Penn State already has a talented young quarterback in Christian Hackenberg, but the Nittany Lions will be welcoming another one in this class.
Michael O'Connor, a 4-star out of Bradenton, Fla., showed some excellent throwing ability on Thursday.
He connected with Alabama commit Bo Scarbrough on a 32-yard pass near the sideline and showed some impressive toughness, lowering his shoulder and enduring a huge hit on a short scramble.
This all came on one drive, which he capped with a laser right on the money to Florida State commit Travis Rudolph for a 10-yard touchdown.
Of all the elite quarterbacks who took the field in this contest, O'Connor might have shown the most upside.
Winner: QB Sean White
Named his team's MVP, Auburn commit Sean White had a big day of throwing the ball for Team Highlight.
The Hollywood, Fla., native finished 10-of-12 passing for a game-high 156 yards and two touchdowns.
While both teams rotated quarterbacks throughout, White emerged as the best of the bunch. He connected with two LSU commits on both of his touchdown strikes.
On the first, he hit a wide open Jacory Washington from 23 yards out for the game's first score. He later found Leonard Fournette on a 36-yard scoring connection.
Going forward, he won't want to see either of those prospects heading into the end zone, but on Thursday, it was all good for the future Auburn signal-caller.
Winner: Jabrill Peppers
Jabrill Peppers has been one of the most popular and highly touted recruits in the 2014 class, and he showed why at Tropicana Field.
He showed off some incredible leaping ability, blocking a kick at the end of the first half. The Paramus, N.J., native soared for a beautiful block, although it was called back on an "illegal blitz" call—a special rule for this game.
Later on, he displayed more elite athleticism on kick returns of 40 and 24 yards.
He also played some in a Wildcat quarterback role. Primarily a cornerback, Peppers could see time on all three sides of the ball at Michigan, just like he did in the All-America Game.
Simply put, he is an athletic freak who will see the field immediately in Ann Arbor.