Winners, Losers and Grades from the 2018 Army All-American Game
The future stars of college football were on display in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which resulted in the West defeating the East by a 17-16 margin.
But let's be honest: No one cares about the final score. This was just an opportunity to see some of the best and the brightest go up against each other after a few years of destroying their high school competition.
For proof of the increased level of difficulty, No. 1 overall recruit and Clemson commit Trevor Lawrence threw more interceptions in the first quarter of this game than he did in the entire season for Cartersville High School. And the first touchdown of the game didn't occur until midway through the third quarter.
Still, we got a good look at some of the nation's top recruits and found out where six of them will be taking their talents this fall.
In recapping this all-star game, we'll start out with some individual grades before offering up a few winners and losers.
Charles Campbell, K (Indiana): Campbell booted the opening kickoff out of bounds at roughly the 10. Rather than taking the penalty, the East made him kick it again, returning the ensuing kick to the 35. Campbell also missed a 25-yard field goal, though it appeared to have been tipped at the line of scrimmage. He redeemed himself a bit by sneaking in a 32-yard field goal for the first points of the game.
Jarren Williams, QB (Miami): Williams had a couple of nice plays early in the game, hitting Rondale Moore for 15 yards on an out route and scrambling for 10 yards two plays later. Beyond that, though, he struggled. Williams was sacked twice by Aidan Hutchison, and on consecutive plays in the third quarter, he underthrew Mark Pope on go routes.
Anthony Cook, CB (Texas): Cook was involved in three tackles and one pass breakup, but he also had a boneheaded penalty. He was whistled for a facemask on a 3rd-and-15 play in which he tackled Jordyn Adams 10 yards shy of the first-down marker. Fortunately for Cook, the West was able to force a punt four plays later.
Trevor Lawrence, QB (Clemson): Lawrence is going to be one of the best quarterbacks at the college level for the next four years. He threw for 40 touchdowns and just one interception this season and may well come in and steal Kelly Bryant's job with the Tigers. But this game was a nightmare for him. He threw two interceptions in the first quarter and fumbled twice—though the offense did recover both fumbles. He did have an impressive drive in the fourth quarter, showing off his incredible arm. However, it wasn't enough to salvage a disappointing afternoon.
Palaie Gaoteote, LB (USC): Gaoteote was involved in three tackles in the game, but there was one critical hit he shouldn't have made. On a 3rd-and-17 incompletion that would have resulted in a punt, Gaoteote was called for roughing the passer, hitting Lawrence for no good reason as he neared the sideline.
Phil Jurkovec, QB (Notre Dame): It was a rough game for all three quarterbacks on the East team, but none more so than Jurkovec. On his first would-be pass attempt of the game, he lost his footing and just fell to the ground without any defenders near him. He took a 15-yard sack on the following play. And his only pass attempt of the game was underthrown and picked off by Caden Sterns.
Josh Jobe, CB (Alabama): On what proved to be the game-winning drive for the West, Matt Corral and Jaylen Waddle were picking on Jobe. The possession began at the East's 20. Corral threw one into the end zone to Waddle. He drew defensive pass interference on Jobe. On the ensuing play, Waddle got wide open in the end zone near the sideline before getting in Jobe's face to let him know that he can't guard him.
Brian Hightower, WR (Miami): Hightower made four receptions for 50 yards, the biggest of which was a 24-yard comeback catch on a 3rd-and-21 play. He gets the unofficial assist for the West's final TD, as the score came on the first snap after that huge conversion.
Ronnie Perkins, DE (Oklahoma), and Ron Tatum, DE (Oklahoma): A tandem of future Sooners was involved in a 15-yard sack of Phil Jurkovec. Tommy Togiai (Ohio State) was also in the backfield putting pressure on the QB. Perkins got that sack, but Tatum had a nice play later in the game, knifing into a gap to stop a draw play before it had a chance to go anywhere.
Jaylen Waddle, WR (TBD): Waddle was on the receiving end of a 46-yard bomb from JT Daniels, as well as a two-yard TD reception from Matt Corral. He also drew a key defensive pass interference call to set up that touchdown. He finished with three receptions for 52 yards.
Micah Parsons, DE (Penn State): One of the highest-rated players in this game almost made an incredible play. The West tried to set up a shovel pass over the middle, but Tanner McKee tossed it within the reach of Parsons, who almost snared it with one hand. He also had two tackles in the game.
Derion Kendrick, WR (Clemson): Kendrick had a pair of receptions for a total of 21 yards, but it was a rushing play that most stood out. And it wasn't even supposed to be a run. Kendrick got the ball on a reverse and looked to pass, but when he saw nothing but enemy jerseys on his side of the field, he ran back the other way for a 17-yard gain.
Raymond Scott, LB (USC) and Micah Baskerville, LB (LSU): Blitzes were supposed to be illegal in this game, but Scott and Baskerville came hard around the edges after Lawrence on a 3rd-and-goal play late in the second quarter. Though Baskerville technically wasn't involved in the sack, it was because he came flying into Lawrence's face that the QB spun back to get speared by Scott.
Jaiden Woodbey, S (Florida State): It pays to be in the right place at the right time. Brendan Radley-Hiles made a great defensive play to break up a deep ball. He batted it back toward the middle of the field and right into the hands of Woodbey, who returned it 25 yards.
Kelvin Joseph, S (LSU): Joseph led all players with six tackles and was a key part of keeping the East's offense from ever getting into much of a rhythm.
Jalen Green, CB (Texas): Green had five solo tackles and an impressive pass breakup, but he also muffed a kickoff return and got tackled at his own 4-yard line.
Aidan Hutchison, DE (Michigan): Though Caden Sterns was officially named the MVP of the game, it was Hutchison who made the biggest overall impact. The future Wolverine had two sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and at least three other plays on which he ripped through the offensive line like it wasn't even there.
James Cook, RB (Georgia): Sony Michel and Nick Chubb will be graduating, but Georgia has one heck of a running back coming in to help replace them. Cook had a 16-yard rushing touchdown, a 10-yard receiving touchdown and more than 100 all-purpose yards in a game that was otherwise starved for action on offense.
Brendan Radley-Hiles, CB (Oklahoma): Radley-Hiles was one of the six players to announce his college decision during the game, but the soon-to-be Sooner also had two impressive pass breakups. On the first one, he batted a Trevor Lawrence deep ball to teammate Jaiden Woodbey. On the second, he tracked down Mark Pope along the sideline, turned, found the ball in the air, dove and swatted it away with one hand.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR (USC): St. Brown was easily the offensive MVP of the game. He made a nice back-shoulder catch on a slant-route pass thrown behind him, spun back and gained 31 yards. He also had a 17-yard TD and a 38-yard reception on which he fought through defensive pass interference to come back to the ball. He would've been an A+ if not for the 15-yard penalty for inexplicably punting the ball into the stands after that 38-yard catch.
JT Daniels, QB (USC): Though he did throw an interception, Daniels was the most impressive QB in the game. He had a beautiful deep ball to Jaylen Waddle in the first half that traveled 40 yards in the air. He also hit high school teammate St. Brown for a 17-yard touchdown just one play after converting on 3rd-and-21. Daniels also scrambled for 21 yards while the rest of the West roster combined for negative-two rushing yards.
Jordyn Adams, WR (North Carolina): The East only had 118 passing yards in the game, and Adams was responsible for nearly half of them. On the final drive, he was Lawrence's favorite target, hauling in four receptions for 32 yards. He finished the game with six catches and 56 yards.
Caden Sterns, CB (Texas): Sterns was named the MVP because of his two interceptions, but they were two of the easiest picks you'll ever see. Trevor Lawrence threw one pass directly to Sterns with no receiver around, and Phil Jurkovec underthrew a lame duck that Sterns returned 40 yards to set up his offense for the game-winning touchdown. But he also had a facemask penalty that helped set the East up for the game's first TD, for which we had to lower his grade a bit.
Ricky Person, RB (North Carolina State): Person led all players with 39 rushing yards, and he got 35 of them on one play. He squeezed through a hole in the line and had a nice juke move to break free and get the East inside the 10.
Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB (Alabama): On the lone mistake of the day by Daniels, Armour-Davis was the beneficiary. Daniels was under pressure and was committed to trying to get the ball to St. Brown along the sideline, but he neglected to notice the cornerback just a couple yards behind his receiver. Armour-Davis jumped in front for an interception.
Winner: Texas Secondary
The offenses finally showed up for the final 20 minutes of the game, but this was a defensive struggle up until that point.
And quite a few of the key defenders will be playing for Texas head coach Tom Herman next year.
No. 1 on the list was the game MVP, Caden Sterns. As previously mentioned, he had a pair of interceptions, returning one of them 38 yards to set up the game-winning touchdown. He also had a pair of solo tackles, including one for a one-yard loss.
Sterns wasn't the only noteworthy defensive back who will be suiting up for the Longhorns this fall. There was also Jalen Green, who had five solo tackles and broke up a pass in single coverage on a deep ball along the sideline. It's not hard to imagine that duo causing problems for Big 12 QBs for the next four seasons.
But wait! There's more! Anthony Cook is another DB headed to Austin. Though we previously graded him as a C+ because of a bad penalty, he did have three tackles and a pass breakup.
All told, cornerbacks committed to Texas combined for 10 tackles, two interceptions and two passes broken up.
Loser: The Two-Point Conversion Attempt
When the East scored a touchdown with 45 seconds left to cut the deficit to 17-16, the decision to go for two was a no-brainer. There would not be any overtime if they were tied at the end of regulation. And though the outcome didn't really matter, who the heck wants to play a tie game? Go big or go home.
But the game-winning attempt was doomed from the start.
First, an offensive lineman moved before the snap, causing the East to go for two from the 7-yard line. And what they drew up was just a great big mess. Trevor Lawrence handed the ball off to the running back, who then pitched it to Derion Kendrick. Kendrick then threw the ball to...no one in particular.
Lawrence rolled out to the right after the initial handoff and must have been the target of the pass, but he hadn't even reached the goal line by the time the pass landed out of bounds behind the end zone.
After the subsequent failed onside kick attempt, the game was over.
Winner: USC Trojans
On the field, players who had previously committed to USC had impressive showings.
Linebacker Raymond Scott had a big sack on a 3rd-down play in the red zone. Talanoa Hufanga and Palaie Gaoteote combined for five tackles. And JT Daniels had the best game among the six quarterbacks, throwing for 113 yards and a touchdown.
But the real reason the Trojans won the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is because of the commitment from Amon-Ra St. Brown.
St. Brown was the only 5-star recruit who committed during the game, and he did exactly what the experts were expecting. Per the Crystal Ball on 247Sports, there was a 94 percent chance he was going to pick USC. Still, it had to have been a huge sigh of relief for the Trojans faithful when he officially donned that hat.
Not only was he a highly touted recruit, but he was one of the top performers in the game. St. Brown already has a great rapport with Daniels, as they have been playing together at Mater Dei High School. It certainly showed in this game, as Daniels looked his way on four of 13 pass attempts, including a touchdown strike.
Loser: Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida State Seminoles
Six players committed to their future homes during NBC's broadcast of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. In chronological order, J.J. Peterson chose Tennessee, Chris Murray picked UCLA, Kelvin Joseph opted for LSU, Rondale Moore selected Purdue, Brendan Radley-Hiles decided on Oklahoma and Amon-Ra St. Brown will be headed to USC.
In all six cases, it wasn't much of a surprise. According to the 247Sports crystal ball, the only one with less than an 82 percent chance was Oklahoma at 77 percent on Radley-Hiles.
But both Alabama and Florida State had hopes of snagging at least one member of the sextet. Each powerhouse had a hat on the table for three of the six players, but neither the Crimson Tide nor the Seminoles added a new freshman in San Antonio.
Of the bunch, Peterson spurning Alabama has to sting the most. 247Sports had Alabama as the heavy favorite to land Peterson for most of the past calendar year, but when former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt took the job as Tennessee's head coach, he convinced Peterson to follow him there.
Good thing Nick Saban is too busy preparing for yet another national championship game to be too upset about it.
Recruit rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
Kerry Miller covers men's college basketball and college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.