The U.S. Army All-American Bowl comes at a perfect time. Just as the college football season winds toward its conclusion and fans around the country start looking toward next season, the showcase puts some of the top prospects on display.
Furthermore, the game gives players one last chance to shine while they are still considered high school players before making the leap to the collegiate level. Some will even announce which schools they have chosen during the game.
Let's check out some of the top undeclared prospects to watch before they start the next phase of their football careers.
Joe Mixon — RB
Mixon is exactly the type of running back that's taking over football. The days of one-dimensional power backs are slowly fading away. Instead, teams are looking for playmakers who are just as capable helping the passing game as they are on the ground.
The California product certainly fits the bill. 247Sports' composite rankings list him as the No. 1 all-purpose running back and inside the top 20 players overall. The site also lists Oklahoma and UCLA among the front-runners for him, with Wisconsin also in the mix.
These type of All-Star games tend to have a much more open, free-flowing style of play, which will benefit Mixon. When he gets out in open space he's as dangerous as any player who will be on the field in the game for either side.
Marshon Lattimore — CB
Above all else, Lattimore is a tremendous athlete. There are players who excel in one area but if asked to step outside their comfort zone struggle mightily. That's why versatility is such a great asset, and the Ohio native has shown it on both sides of the ball.
Which of these prospects has the brightest football future?
He'll eventually settle at cornerback, at least at the outset. 247Sports' composite rankings rate him as the No. 5 player at the position and a 4-star prospect overall. Ohio State is listed as the favorite to land him ahead of his decision.
A combination of quickness and ball skills should allow him to make a pretty quick impact at the collegiate level. And if for whatever reason things don't end up working out as a defensive back, he can always switch back to offense and try to fill a void there.
Bryce Dixon — TE
Dixon is one of the most intriguing players in the class. He ranks outside the top 100 overall, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, and still has to fill out his frame to stand out as a tight end, but there's a reason he's generated so much interest, with UCLA listed as the leaders.
That's because he has all the tools to succeed. He has speed, size and playmaking ability, which are increasingly important traits for modern players at the position. Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times passed along comments in August from Dixon and a former coach that highlight that talent:
"It's mismatch everywhere," a giddy Dixon says.
Taller, bigger and faster than most of those trying to contain him, Dixon is an offensive weapon waiting to be unleashed.
"Athletically, he's a freak," former St. Bonaventure coach Todd Therrien said during the summer.
Yes, there's work to do before he becomes a star. Right now, he's a raw talent with sky-high potential and no guarantee he'll realize all of it. But starting in the Army All-American Bowl and moving forward, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him steadily develop into a major weapon.