For the few people actually keeping score, Team Highlight posted a dominant 46-6 win over Team Armour on Friday afternoon in the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game.
But the scoreboard was probably the least important part of what went on at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Of far more interest to the record crowd of 25,461 fans, the participants and their future teams were the individual performances of some of the next wave of college football stars.
On a day that gave us a mix of commitments and contributions, one guy was able to make a splash in both areas. Running back Ronald Jones II, a 4-star prospect from McKinney, Texas, committed to USC before kickoff and then showed Trojans fans what to expect a few minutes later with a 58-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Jones was one of six players to pledge their college choices during ESPN2's broadcast, while dozens who are already committed chipped in with big plays of their own.
Here's how things shook out, using the box score and final statistics as a guide to the performance of the Class of 2015's top prospects.
|2015 Under Armour All-America Game Line Score|
|Score by Quarter||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
Unlike last year's game, which didn't pick up in terms of scoring until the second half and was in doubt until late, Friday's clash was pretty much over by the middle of the second quarter. That's because Team Highlight scored on its first five possessions, then turned to its defense and special teams to carry the load the rest of the way.
With Highlight leading 32-6 at halftime, the game used a running clock in the second half, but that didn't stop the victors from extending their lead. With both teams cycling in fresh players throughout, the final quarter didn't play like a blowout as much as one where each side continued to play hard until the final whistle.
|2015 Under Armour All-America Game Scoring Summary|
|1st, 9:17||HIGH: Justin Yoon 32 FG||3-0|
|1st, 6:19||HIGH: Ronald Jones II 58 run (Yoon kick)||10-0|
|1st, 1:21||HIGH: Garrett Williams 24 pass from Deondre Francois (Yoon kick)||17-0|
|2nd, 14:31||HIGH: Daylon Charlot 53 punt return (Yoon kick)||24-0|
|2nd, 8:26||HIGH: Yoon 31 FG||27-0|
|2nd, 2:13||ARM: Eric Glover-Williams 47 punt return (kick blocked)||27-6|
|2nd, 2:13||HIGH: Christian Wilkins blocked PAT return||29-6|
|2nd, 0:18||HIGH: Justin Yoon 47 FG||32-6|
|3rd, 14:07||HIGH: Da'Vante Phillips 4 pass from Blake Barnett (Yoon kick)||39-6|
|4th, 5:43||HIGH: Damien Harris 36 run (Yoon kick)||46-6|
As the summary shows, special teams were a huge part of how the game played out. Both teams scored on punt returns, with Daylon Charlot's 53-yard score for Team Highlight particularly exciting because the uncommitted 4-star wide receiver from Louisiana initially muffed the kick before regrouping and turning on the jets.
Eric Glover-Williams, a 4-star cornerback who has been pledged to Ohio State since August 2013, gave Team Armour its only score of the game just before halftime with a 47-yard punt return. However, any momentum Armour might have gained there was squelched when the point-after attempt was blocked by Christian Wilkins, who then picked up the live ball and scampered down the field, high-stepping at the end for two points.
Wilkins, an uncommitted 4-star defensive tackle from Connecticut, also had a sack on defense, showing off his skills in multiple areas.
Another unsuspecting star for Team Highlight was its kicker, Justin Yoon, a 3-star prospect from Massachusetts who is committed to Notre Dame. He was perfect on all of his kicks, including a 47-yard field goal in the final minute of the first half to set a record for longest kick in game history.
|2015 Under Armour All-America Game Rushing Stats|
|D. Harris (n/a)||16-110-1||D. Johnson (FSU)||6-16-0|
|R. Jones II (USC)||11-86-1||S. Jamabo (n/a)||4-12-0|
|M. McCloud III (Clem)||1-38-0||J. Patrick (FSU)||4-9-0|
|B. Barnett (ALA)||5-8-0||K. Murray (A&M)||5-8-0|
|D. Francois (FSU)||3-0-0||N. Brossette (LSU)||3-5-0|
|J. Stidham (BAY)||1-(-7)-0||B. Wimbush (ND)||1-(-5)-0|
Jones' 58-yard TD run midway through the first quarter came on his first carry and was as much due to blocking as to a great move he made to juke out a Team Armour defender just beyond the line of scrimmage. His speed and athleticism will be fun to watch the next few years in Los Angeles, where USC could have a big hole to fill if junior Javorius Allen decides to turn pro early.
Most of the offensive highlights came on pass plays, but the game's final score was provided by one of the top remaining uncommitted skill players left in the 2015 class. Damien Harris, a 5-star prospect from Kentucky, went nearly untouched for a 36-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Harris was the game's workhorse, so it was nice to see him get a late payoff. He'd be a huge in-state get for Kentucky, which is fighting Alabama and Ohio State for his services and where he's apt to get the most work early on.
|2015 Under Armour All-America Game Passing Stats|
|B. Barnett (ALA)||5-10||66-1-0||K. Murray (A&M)||7-15||60-0-1|
|D. Francois (FSU)||4-4||103-1-0||D. Johnson (FSU)||4-9||55-0-0|
|J. Stidham (BAY)||2-3||44-0-0||B. Wimbush (ND)||3-6||44-0-1|
With so many quarterbacks getting a chance to show their stuff, none had the ability to put up huge numbers. But that didn't stop a few from making some big plays.
Florida State commit Deondre Francois—one of three 2015 quarterbacks the Seminoles have coming in who played in this game—had one of the game's two TD passes when he found Garrett Williams on a nice touch pass for 24 yards, which came one play after connecting with future teammate George Campbell on a long reception.
That was one of a handful of times when future college pass-catching combos got involved on a play. Alabama quarterback commit Blake Barnett regularly tried to connect with Calvin Ridley, someone he'll get a chance to throw to in Tuscaloosa the next few years.
But Francois also showed some jitters in the red zone, losing a fumble on a botched shotgun snap.
Texas A&M pledge Kyler Murray and Florida State commit De'Andre Johnson both threw picks—each intercepted by Auburn linebacker prospect Darrell Williams—but both were tipped before Williams grabbed them.
|2015 Under Armour All-America Game Receiving Stats|
|D. Phillips (FSU)||3-32-1||D. Lodge (n/a)||4-42-0|
|G. Campbell (FSU)||2-68-0||B. Martin (n/a)||2-68-0|
|K. Locksley (FSU)||1-36-0||C. Broadus (n/a)||2-13-0|
|C. Ridley (ALA)||1-28-0||J. Patrick (FSU)||2-6-0|
|G. Williams (CLEM)||1-24-1||C. Kirk (A&M)||1-13-0|
|T. Godwin (GA)||1-15-0||T. Johnson (LSU)||1-13-0|
|E. St. Brown (n/a)||1-6-0||A. Ofodile (ORE)||1-5-0|
|J. Burt (TEX)||1-4-0||N. Brossette (LSU)||1-(-1)-0|
In a game that was loaded with big-name receiving prospects, it was an offensive player who's grabbed most of his attention on the recruiting trail for great blocking techniques who hauled in the first TD pass. Garrett Williams, a 4-star Clemson pledge, showed great speed in beating his man after falling off the line and making a beeline for the end zone to haul in an over-the-shoulder catch.
Clemson only had two TDs from its tight ends this season, so Williams has a shot to make an impact in that area.
Florida State commit Da'Vante Phillips had a four-yard TD catch, outleaping his defender in the front of the end zone on a back-shoulder throw that he tracked perfectly.
While 5-star Tyron Johnson committed to LSU during the game to take his name off the board, the top remaining wide receiver recruit didn't do himself any favors in the game. Damarkus Lodge, a 4-star prospect from Texas, finished with four catches for 42 yards but dropped a couple balls he should have been able to bring in.
|2015 Under Armour All-America Top Defensive Stats|
|I. Marshall (n/a)||5-0-0||D. Mack (n/a)||7-3-1|
|K. Sheffield (ALA)||5-0-0||D. Elliot (TEX)||5-0-0|
|C. Wilkins (n/a)||4-2-2||M. Abernathy (TENN)||5-0-0|
|B. Cowart (n/a)||4-1-1||M. Ford (TENN)||4-1-1|
|R. Smith (n/a)||4-2-0||J. Dalton (UNC)||4-2-1|
Some of the biggest stars in the games weren't the ones throwing or catching the ball but rather the ones working hard to stop such advancement. Most notably, a pair of uncommitted 5-star defenders did wonders for their future stock.
Defensive tackle Daylon Mack was named the player of the game after he finished with seven tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. Another 5-star defensive lineman, end Byron Cowart, got himself into the backfield on numerous occasions and had one of his team's three sacks.
Note: All statistics courtesy of the official box score (provided by Intersport)
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.