Army All-America Bowl 2014: Ranking the Top 10 Defensive Recruits

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystJanuary 4, 2014

Army All-America Bowl 2014: Ranking the Top 10 Defensive Recruits

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    The Army All-American Bowl caps off an incredible journey for dozens of standout high school seniors. The action takes center stage at 1 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon on NBC, broadcast live from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

    The nation's premier offensive playmakers aim to steal the spotlight, but they must contend with elite defenders at every position. We rank the top 10 defensive stars to watch during a highly anticipated matchup.

10. 4-Star DT Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga.)

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    Elisha Shaw is one of the top uncommitted recruits in Georgia. The Tucker High School defensive tackle is expected to announce his commitment during the All-American Bowl.

    His best attribute is lower-body quickness, which gives him leverage against slower blockers. The 6'4.5", 295-pound prospect has several suitors, especially in the SEC.

    Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia and Auburn are among his top options.

9. 4-Star LB Derik Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif.)

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    California linebacker Derik Calhoun is an effective blitzer off the outside edge and provides outstanding coverage in run support. The 6'0", 215-pound El Cerrito High School star was one of the most dynamic defenders in southern California during the past two seasons.

    Calhoun initially pledged to USC in July. However, he flipped his commitment to Arizona State in late October.

    Expect Calhoun to meet ball-carriers in the backfield on a few occasions during the All-American Bowl.

8. 4-Star DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky.)

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    Defensive tackle Matt Elam is prototypical nose tackle who engages double-team efforts with impressive resistance. The 6'5", 350-pound John Hardin High School standout is a relentless force along the interior with the statistics to back up his skill set.

    Elam erupted for 85 tackles and four sacks during his senior season. A nationwide recruitment process ends in San Antonio.

    He is expected to pick between Alabama and Kentucky when announcing a commitment.

7. 4-Star LB Kenny Young (New Orleans, La.)

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    Kenny Young was a key defender on John Curtis Christian when the team became national champion in 2012. His play continued to improve this season, cementing his status as one of Louisiana's top linebackers.

    He notched 122 tackles in 2013, according to 247Sports. His efforts featured 14 tackles for loss and four sacks.

    Young remains uncommitted with plenty of teams in the mix. Texas A&M, Florida State and LSU are top contenders.

6. 4-Star DE Malik McDowell (Detroit, Mich.)

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    Defensive end Malik McDowell will spend Saturday chasing down the country's top quarterbacks. Consider it an ideal audition for a collegiate prospect filled with promise.

    The 6'7", 290-pound Southfield High School standout produced at a high level in 2013. McDowell racked up 89 tackles and seven sacks as a senior, according to 247Sports.

    His collegiate options include Ohio State, Michigan State, LSU and Michigan

5. 4-Star CB Marshon Lattimore (Cleveland, Ohio)

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    Marshon Lattimore is a smooth operator in the secondary who will immediately provide a collegiate coaching staff with plenty of options. The 6'0", 175-pound cornerback is a coveted Cleveland product who doesn't shy away from physical play in coverage.

    He is rated the nation's No. 5 cornerback in 247Sports composite rankings. His offer list features Alabama, Oregon, USC and Ohio State.

    The Buckeyes are viewed as a prohibitive favorite.

4. 4-Star LB Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill.)

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    Linebacker Nyles Morgan is best suited to play on the interior of a defense's second level. The Crete-Monee defender is among the premier players in Illinois, accumulating impressive statistics during his high school career.

    Morgan made 342 total tackles in his past three seasons, according to 247Sports. The 6'2.5", 230-pound prospect remains uncommitted.

    He is considering offers from Florida, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

3. 4-Star S Todd Kelly (Knoxville, Tenn.)

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    Webb School safety Todd Kelly is a disruptive safety who headlines a loaded class in Knoxville, Tenn. The Tennessee Volunteers will count on him to contribute early during a career that carries immense expectations

    The 6'0", 188-pound defensive backs frustrates quarterbacks with his coverage skills. He's also an intimidating force at the line of scrimmage when called upon to rush the offensive backfield.

    Kelly should have free reign to survey center field in San Antonio.

2. 4-Star LB Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio)

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    Akron linebacker Dante Booker is a college-ready playmaker primed for a successful college career. The 6'3", 212-pound St. Vincent-St. Mary product is a punishing hitter with sideline-to-sideline speed.

    Booker burst onto the scene with 157 tackles and 14 sacks as a sophomore in 2011 and hasn't looked back since. He tallied 116 tackles as a senior, according to 247Sports.

    The standout selected Ohio State from a long list of options. He is arguably the most important commit in Urban Meyer's 2014 class.

1. 5-Star LB Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill.)

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    Clifton Garrett is a sensational talent at outside linebacker who deserves every accolade he's received during a high-profile recruiting process. The 6'2", 228-pound Plainfield South High School standout warranted offers from practically every BCS title contender.

    He displays rare range that makes him a balanced defender. Garrett can cover the pass with effectiveness or drop the hammer in run coverage.

    247Sports composite rankings rate him as the nation's No. 1 outside linebacker prospect. Garrett committed to LSU in December, picking the Tigers over Alabama, Ole Miss and Florida.