The 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl should offer plenty of intrigue on the field when it kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. PT from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. With some of the top players from across the country in attendance, recruiting fans will have plenty to keep their eyes on over the course of the game.
West quarterbacks vs. East quarterbacks
In all-star games, the quarterback position almost always receives the most attention, and with it, either praise or scrutiny. This year, the position offers some interesting regional twists, with bragging rights on the line. For the West team, representing the Pac-12 will be Jared Goff (Kentfield, Calif./Marin Catholic) and Anu Solomon (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman), committed to Cal and Arizona, respectively. For the East team, and headed to the SEC, are Austin Allen (Fayetteville, Ark./Fayettevills) and Eddie Printz (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter). Allen is headed to Arkansas, with Printz committed to Missouri. Giving the Midwest fans something to watch are Notre Dame quarterback commitment Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter), playing for the East squad, and Northwestern commit Matt Alviti (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine Township), who will suit up for the West.
Oklahoma fans could have a chance to see two future Sooners square off as Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central) and Smallwood (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) could see plenty of each other over the middle on Friday. Adding to the matchup, both Byrd and Smallwood have been terrific during practices this week, each vying for top honors at their respective positions for each of their teams. This will likely be the first of many times these two get a chance to go at each other over the next few years.
Another matchup of future teammates will take place, as Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Fuller (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic) will both head to Notre Dame next fall. This Notre Dame recruiting class is very close, and Luke is certainly aware that of the five Fighting Irish verbal commits at this game, he is the only one on the West roster. He’ll want to prove himself against Fuller, who was terrific during practices for the East team.
Washington defensive line commits vs. East offensive line
LSU defensive tackle Christian LaCouture (Lincoln, Neb./Southwest) deserves credit for his performances during practice, but Washington commitments Elijah Qualls (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) and Daeshon Hall (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) were nearly unblockable all week for the West team. They’ll have a chance to prove themselves when they go up against an East team that had some of its own issues during practices. One matchup of particular interest could be if Hall finds himself set against Notre Dame offensive tackle commit Mike McGlinchey (Philadelphia/William Penn Charter), who was the standout lineman all week for the East.
Pac-12 vs. the country
Players headed to the Pac-12 have a chance to make a strong statement in this game. Not only will the conference likely land two of the players scheduled to announce during the contest, the West team is littered with players headed to the Pac-12, and could be led by a trio of Oregon commitments, in wide receivers Darren Carrington Jr. (San Diego/Horizon) and twins Tyrell Robinson and Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln). The offensive line features five Pac-12 verbal commitments, while only one wide receiver on the roster--Texas A&M commit Jeremy Tabuyo (Honolulu/St. Louis)--is likely to play his college football outside the conference.
Announcements to be made during Friday's game
• WR John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) -- The playmaking receiver has been quiet all year when it comes to recruiting. His recruitment has been a three-team race from the get-go. In reality, the Washington Huskies have always been the one team thought of as the front-runner due to the four-star's ties to the program. Oregon and UCLA have been in the mix and even rumored to be his leader at some point. The dynamic Ross will make his college decision between the three Pac-12 programs during the game on Friday.
• TE Thomas Duarte (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) -- The 6-foot-3, 220-pound TE-Y could play WR, TE, H-Back, LB or DE on the next level but he is best as a big weapon in the slot. His is under-sized as a TE, but athletic enough to play WR in any system. Like Ross, he too was awfully quiet throughout his recruitment. Also like Ross, Duarte is down to Oregon, UCLA and Washington, with Notre Dame also in the mix for the versatile four-star. Most believe it is down to UCLA and Oregon. If that's the case, it means that the unofficial visit he took to Oregon as a junior either resonated so well that he doesn't need to go back for an official visit...or that he is all UCLA.
• RB David Williams (Philadelphia/Imhotep Charter) -- The talented running back will announce his choice between Arizona State, Penn State and South Carolina. The country’s No. 124 player would be a big addition to the Nittany Lions, but strong pushes from the out of state schools have made Williams’ recruitment an interesting one. At 6-foot-1, 192 pounds, Williams can do it all as a tailback and has a chance to be a featured back in any offense. At this point, it is thought that the Gamecocks have the edge.
Updates from Junior Rank 2013 Proving Ground Combine
• Cornerback Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) was happy to be back on the football field for the first time since his team was eliminated from the playoffs, as the 5-foot-11, 170-pound cornerback took to the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Thursday for the Junior Rank 2013 Proving Ground Combine.
Hale arrived late to the event, so he didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but said he did well in the broad jump and the shuttle.
“It was just good to get out there,” Hale said. “I hadn’t been out on the field in a while, so that felt food.”
Hale was joined by teammates Jaleel Wadood and Shay Fields Jr., and that trio will bring plenty of college coaches out to St. John Bosco this spring. Schools have already been in touch with the standout junior, although none have extended offers thus far.
“I’ve been getting connected with Washington and Northwestern -- just trying to stay connected,” Hale said. “I’ve talked to Utah also. They said they love my film.”
Hale said Oregon and UCLA have been in contact as well, and that he receives e-mails from the Ducks almost daily.
“Washington wants me to come to their junior day in February,” Hale said. “A lot of schools have said they’re going to start picking things up after the 2013 class is over. After that, I’m just ready for it to start.”
• 2015 offensive guard Jake Grant (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon) will stay in a hotel after performing at the combine on Thursday. It might be a good idea for him to get used to ordering room service, as the 6-foot-3, 260-pound big man will be on the road plenty over the next few months.
Grant hopes to attend the Nike Camp in Los Angeles, as well as school camps at all three Arizona schools--Arizona, Arizona State and Nothern Arizona--three California schools--UCLA, USC and San Diego State--and four Texas schools-- and Baylor, Texas, TCU and Texas A&M.
At this stage, Grant said Arizona State has shown the most interest--he took two unofficial visits to see the Sun Devils during the season--along with Arkansas, Montana and TCU. He also understands how much time he has left in the process.
“I’m just being patient and being persistent with coaches,” Grant said. “It’s about making the relationships. When it started, I didn’t know how much of a relationship you need to have with the coaches, but when I went to camps, all they talk about it building relationships. That’s a really cool part of recruiting.”
Several schools stand out as programs Grant holds interest in at this point.
“Arizona State, obviously,” he said. “TCU and Texas--if everything is bigger in Texas, there has to be more competition there. USC, Oregon, Nebraska, Michigan State, Arkansas. SEC football looks like pretty fun football.”
• Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) has a chance to be one of the more highly-recruited quarterbacks in the 2015 class. He already holds offers from Miami and UCLA, and has been in regular contact with two national powers.
“Stanford and Alabama have been talking to me,” Town said. “I’m going to an Alabama camp this summer and going to a Stanford one as well. I’m still pretty wide open, but it would be awesome to get an offer from either of those schools.”
Only heading into his junior season, Town said he is in no rush to make a decision on a school. He said he’ll make sure to take his time and talk over everything with his family.
In addition to camps at Alabama and Stanford, Town said he will likely attend a Nike camp and could go to a camp at USC as well.