In a showcase of the nation's top college prospects, the West held on to defeat the East by a final score of 17-16 in the 2018 Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.
The East had an opportunity to tie the game after scoring a touchdown with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, but they opted to go for the win on a two-point conversion. The West defense stepped up by reading out the reserve-pass play call to preserve the victory.
Oklahoma cornerback commit Brendan Radley-Hiles got the game started on a high note with a Richard Sherman-like play on a pass from Clemson quarterback commit Trevor Lawrence that led to Jaiden Woodbey's interception:
247Sports noted after Radley-Hiles tipped the pass that he's drawn comparisons to Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 at LSU.
Radley-Hiles' play wound up being the highlight of the first half, and it came on the very first play from scrimmage. He also gave Oklahoma fans still reeling from the team's double-overtime loss to Georgia in the Rose Bowl plenty to be excited about in 2018:
A star at IMG Academy in Florida, Radley-Hiles is a 4-star prospect and No. 48 player overall in the 2018 class. He joins a Sooners team that just finished a 12-2 season and has won three straight Big 12 titles.
Running back James Cook, who is already committed to the University of Georgia, scored the game's first touchdown on a 16-yard run to give the East a 10-3 lead in the third quarter.
Adam Gorney of Yahoo Sports offered a scary thought for SEC defenses facing Georgia after watching Cook take the ball to the house:
The East defense was swarming throughout the day and appeared like it could make that lead stand until wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown made a play the West had been looking for all game:
St. Brown did draw criticism from Bryan Driskell of Blue & Gold Illustrated after his touchdown for running along the sidelines and throwing the ball into the stands:
Gorney was among those that came to St. Brown's defense for the move:
Regardless of how St. Brown's actions after his touchdown may have come off, it seemed to wake up the rest of his West teammates. They added a second touchdown on their ensuing possession to take a 17-10 lead with under eight minutes remaining.
Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who is from Texas but not yet committed to any college, caught the go-ahead score from Matt Corral on a terrific play call by West head coach Jason Mohns.
Woody Wommack of Yahoo Sports noted how special and unique of a talent Waddle is coming into the college game given his small stature:
Needing a score to get back in the game, Lawrence finally found his rhythm. The top overall recruit in the 2018 class struggled with two interceptions and a fumble in the first quarter.
Lawrence scrambled to find Cook in the corner of the end zone with three minutes to play, cutting the deficit to 17-16.
Even though this wasn't the banner game Lawrence wanted to have under the spotlight, his ability to rebound and put his team in a position to at least tie the game in the fourth quarter speaks well of his mental makeup and leadership.
The West was the superior team throughout the day on both sides of the ball. The East was able to make things interesting late, but the better team left San Antonio with a victory.
Linebacker J.J. Peterson was the first player in the game to announce his college intentions, committing to the University of Tennessee:
Peterson's decision to join the Volunteers had been expected coming into the game. He called new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt "my guy" on Thursday, per Jesse Simonton of Rivals.
Offensive lineman Chris Murray opted to stay close to home, going from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana to Los Angeles, where he will play for Chip Kelly and UCLA.
Gorney offered this snapshot scouting report for the Bruins' newest addition:
Kelly's style tends to favor players with speed and quickness. Murray is an agile 6'3" and 300 pounds, so he fits in with the prototypical size of an offensive lineman and what the new Bruins head coach looks for in talent.
LSU also got a boost in its 2018 class when safety Kelvin Joseph announced his commitment to head coach Ed Orgeron.
"It’s a good fit," Joseph told 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong (via Shea Dixon). "Hometown. I have a lot of support. They’ve been recruiting me for a long time. Its been a couple years I’ve been feeling them. They’ve made a good impression on me and my family."
Joseph also had Alabama on his list of schools, but the Tigers needed to make a play in the secondary after not signing any cornerbacks or safeties during the early signing period last month.
Another big recruiting winner on Saturday was Purdue after landing speedy wide receiver Rondale Moore.
Per Wiltfong, Moore is the highest-rated commitment (No. 95 overall) for Purdue in 247Sports history.
"I definitely believe in coach (Jeff) Brohm and his coaching strategies and how he’ll use me in the offense,” Moore told Wiltfong about why he chose Purdue. He was intrigued by what the Boilers did in the first year of the Brohm regime, which included a bowl win. "To be part of the building process, I’m for it."
The final commitment of the day came from St. Brown, who is staying in California to give USC head coach Clay Helton one of the top playmakers in next year's freshman class.
St. Brown told Blair Angulo of 247Sports he liked the Trojans because of what their quarterback situation looks like.
"Looking at who will be playing quarterback was huge for me," he said. "Notre Dame didn't have the best season because of the quarterback situation. I wanted a quarterback that I know can get me the ball. As a receiver, making sure I went to a school I knew would have a top quarterback was huge."
The Anaheim native got to work with USC quarterback commit J.T. Daniels throughout the week in San Antonio to know what he's in store for starting this fall.
USC was inconsistent at times this season and was thoroughly dominated in a 24-7 loss to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. Helton is doing all he can to stockpile high-end talent to ensure the Trojans are able to improve on their 11-3 record in 2017.
Recruiting information via 247Sports.