Grading the Top 10 Recruits from the 2014 US Army All-American Bowl

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2014

Grading the Top 10 Recruits from the 2014 US Army All-American Bowl

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl didn't have the same star power as its rival, the Under Armour All-American Game, but there were still enough 5- and 4-star prospects to make it worth your while.

    Among those blue-chippers was the top quarterback in the Class of 2014, Texas A&M commit Kyle Allen, and three running backs ranked among the top 20 overall players.

    Defensive tackle Matt Elam postponed his announcement date so he could take an official visit to Alabama, which took some luster off the event, but the players on the field put on a show nonetheless.

    Per the 247Sports composite, here's how the top 10 prospects performed.

10. CB Marshon Lattimore

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    Future School: Ohio State

    Lattimore was overshadowed by high school teammate Erick Smith in more than one way on Saturday. Smith made a handful of nice tackles on the outside, and he also (accidentally) spoiled Lattimore's decision to commit to Ohio State during his own announcement.

    Still, though Lattimore didn't get a chance to show off his big-play ability in the real game, he looked like an impressive athlete during practice all week. There's a reason some have compared him to Chris Gamble—another former Buckeye who was capable of playing two ways.

    Grade: B

9. OLB Clifton Garrett

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    Future Team: LSU

    The Army All-American Bowl was not built for someone like Clifton Garrett, who may be the best pure pass-rusher in the class. With restrictions that include a ban on all blitzes, he was not allowed to showcase that skill.

    Garrett did play good coverage in the seam on one play, though, and he acclimated himself well the entire week. He's the kind of guy who can play as a true freshman.

    Grade: B-

8. ATH Curtis Samuel

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    Future Team: Ohio State

    Samuel didn't get to show much of his offensive game on Saturday, lining up in the defensive backfield instead. He's capable of playing on either side of the ball at the next level, though Ohio State's loaded class of DBs might make Urban Meyer more inclined to move him to offense.

    Either way, Samuel didn't show up much in the Army game, which isn't exactly a big deal for a defensive back. There are only so many ways for a DB to make an impact in a setting like this; in all honesty, the fact that his name wasn't called often might be a good thing.

    It means he wasn't burned by an opponent.

    Grade: C+

7. QB Kyle Allen

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    Future Team: Texas A&M

    Allen is the top-ranked quarterback in the class for a reason, and despite some issues handling snaps from his center, that reason was made plain and obvious on Saturday. 

    Allen was on the mark from the get-go, eluding a rusher, rolling to his left and making an FBS throw down the field on his first snap. He completed his first eight passes of the game and finished with 183 passing yards, though some great catches were needed to get there on a couple of underthrows.

    Overall, Allen helped validate his claim as the top QB in the class. He'll be in the running to replace Johnny Manziel in College Station, but he won't be a favorite to win the job as a true freshman.

    Grade: A

6. OT David Sharpe

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    Future Team: Florida

    Sharpe's name wasn't called many times during Saturday's broadcast, but for an offensive lineman, in most cases, he wouldn't have it any other way. Tackles get singled out for allowing a sack more often than they do for preventing one.

    Not being mentioned is a good thing.

    Sharpe also measured in (predictably) massive during Army Bowl practices. According to Barton Simmons of 247Sports, he stood 6'6'', weighed 318 pounds and checked in with a wingspan of 7'2''. That alone makes him a winner of the week.

    Grade: B+

5. RB Royce Freeman

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    Future Team: Oregon

    Freeman looked like the traditional power back Oregon was missing in 2013, scoring three touchdowns on the game—all of which came on short-yard conversions. He finished with 21 yards on five carries.

    He didn't really get to flash his legs in open space, but that's not (entirely) Freeman's game. Especially in Eugene, where some of the speediest, shiftiest offensive players in the country already suit up, he'll be needed as more of a downhill runner.

    On Saturday, he looked like a pretty great one.

    Grade: A

4. RB Nick Chubb

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    Future Team: Georgia

    Chubb wasn't able to get much going on Saturday, though much of that can be attributed to bad blocking in front of him. Even when he moved forward for positive gains, it seemed he had to do so after contact in the backfield.

    He also got stuffed at the goal line and taken out of the game before getting another crack. Chubb's future teammate at UGA Sony Michel did the honors of scoring the touchdown. Chubb finished with only four yards on three carries.

    Still, the powerful running back is eagerly anticipated by folks in Athens, Ga., especially given his exploits in the weight room. His 600-plus-pound squat has become something of a legend this recruiting cycle, and a year learning under Todd Gurley could help him learn how to properly utilize it.

    Grade: C+

3. OLB Dante Booker

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    Future Team: Ohio State

    Dante Booker didn't have the dominant in-game performance some were hoping for, but his week as a whole was a great one.

    Billed as the physically ideal linebacker prospect, Booker did nothing to dispel those notions during practices and also presented himself well in interviews. Later in the week, on Friday, he was named the American Family Insurance defensive player of the year, according to Nathaniel Cline of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

    It's hard to evaluate outside linebackers in a format like an all-star game, so like Clifton Garrett, Booker scores high marks despite not lighting up the field on Saturday. He played well enough all week.

    Grade: B+

2. RB Joe Mixon

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    Future Team: Oklahoma

    Mixon only got two official touches on Saturday, but he was still named the game's Most Valuable Player. Now that's what I like to call efficient.

    First came a screen pass reception on the West squad's first possession of the game. Mixon took off from behind the line of scrimmage on the right sideline, showed some great vision and balance, made a cutback and took it for a 26-yard gain.

    Later, on his only carry of the game, Mixon plunged in for a three-yard touchdown. He then committed to play for the Oklahoma Sooners in the final—and most eagerly anticipated—announcement of the afternoon. 

    All in all, that's a pretty solid day.

    Grade: A

1. DT Matt Elam

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    Future Team: Undecided

    Matt Elam disappointed everyone in the audience (both live and on television) by postponing his commitment before the game. He'll choose between Alabama and Kentucky after visiting the Tide later this month.

    On the field, though, nothing Elam did was a disappointment. He surely looked the part of a run-stuffing defensive tackle, towering over the competition and busting up a Christian McCaffery run for a loss in the first half.

    Whichever school he picks will need to work on his conditioning, as it's clear that he can't be dominant for long stretches at a time quite yet. But players this large don't grow on trees, so he's still—literally—one of the biggest dominoes left to fall in the class.

    Grade: B