Now that they are done beating up on each other in the practices, the players turn their attention to Friday's Under Armour All-America Game (5 p.m. ET, ESPN). Here are some of the top matchups to watch.
Black team DE Robert Nkemdiche vs. White team offensive line
All eyes have been on Nkemdiche this week, and the nation's top ranked player has delivered by meeting and one could argue even exceeding expectations. In practices, he has been dominant at times, combining excellent ability with a good motor and when the game lights come on, he is certainly someone to keep an eye on. He is an explosive player coming off the ball, and when coming after the quarterback he demonstrated the ability to attack blockers in a variety of ways. Whether coming off the edge or from inside, a spot you could see him aligned at on Friday, the O-Lineman working against him will need to deal with his initial quickness off the ball but also execute good technique to try and contain him. He has shown he is capable of overpowering blockers and if they pop up and get tall against him, Nkemdiche can quickly turn speed-to-power, get under their pads and drive them back into the pocket. He is also active with his hands and if they bend at the waist, he can quickly snatch the shoulder, pull down, punch over and tightly pull himself through and close on the quarterback. His initial burst off the ball can also threaten blockers with a pure speed rush, forcing them to quickly kick back. This could also open opportunities for him to counter inside, which he has shown capable of doing as well.
The White team's offensive linemen will certainly have their hands full, but they possess some talent as well and there are some players capable of providing a challenge for the top-ranked player. While still a bit raw, Pitt verbal Dorian Johnson and Michigan verbal Logan Tuley-Tillman are athletic O-linemen. Inside Ira Denson is a big-bodied presence who can be tough to get by if he gets his hands on you. Michigan commits David Dawson and Patrick Kugler are two players who can execute well. The White team has some big men who can create problems for Nkemdiche in what will be one of the must-see matchups in Friday's game.