- Jc Shurburtt
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Last year, the Under Armour All-American game had six of the nation's top seven prospects. This year's all-star game might be on its way to topping that. Four of the nation's top players -- DB Lamarcus Joyner, RB Michael Dyer, LB Jeff Luc and LB Jordan Hicks -- have committed to playing in the game, which will be played in Orlando on Jan. 2 and shown live on ESPN. The practices and skills challenge will also be shown on ESPN's family of networks.
"I want to be affiliated with an all-star game that's going to get me the most ready for the next level," said Joyner, one of the nation's top CB prospects. "It's going to be a fun week, but I'm all about competing and most looking forward to competing against the best in the country all week."
Simply The Best
Judging by the early list of players committed to the 2010 Under Armour High School All-American game, this year's version is on its way to being the best yet.
2010 UA All-American game roster
So far, 41 players have accepted bids to play in the third-annual event, which has quickly become the nation's premier high school all-star showcase. The game's roster is selected by the scouts of ESPN's Scouts Inc., who have decades of college coaching, recruiting and playing experience between them. For the past two seasons, the Under Armour All-American game has featured the nation's top recruit. In 2009, Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley was one of the top performers in the contest and in the game's first year, Clemson defensive end DaQuan Bowers participated. Other noteworthy players from the inaugural year include Miami's Sean Spence, who was the ACC defensive rookie of the year and receivers A.J. Green (Georgia) and Julio Jones (Alabama), both of whom were freshman All-American candidates last season.
"I had been down to San Antonio for the underclassman combine [during last year's Army All-American game] and got a feel for what it was like down there, but I just felt that the Under Armour game was a better fit for me," said Sims, who is considering Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and FSU. "I wanted to do something different and new. I mean, ESPN's television coverage is in front of millions of people, playing in Orlando and Under Armour is a first class product."
A pair of the best linebackers in the country will be chasing after the QBs. Luc, whose highlight reel has become a YouTube legend, and Jordan Hicks will be in Orlando.
"I wanted to be in this game because I heard a lot of good things about it and everything seems legit," said Luc, who is considering USC, Florida, Miami, FSU and Georgia. "I want to compete against the best in the nation on the field and also go to Disney World, where you can be a kid again."
But the 6-foot-1, 235-pounder is anything but a kid on the field. Every hit seems to be a de-cleater and despite his size, he's fast enough to chase ball carriers down from behind. He had 20 tackles for loss last season at Port St. Lucie (Fla.) Treasure Coast last year.
He's joined by Hicks (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West), who had 16 tackles for loss last season. The 6-2, 210-pounder is considering Ohio State, Texas, USC, Alabama and Florida.
"I have watched the Under Armor game the last two years and have really wanted to play in it," Hicks said. "I can't think of a better place to play in an all-star game than Florida in the winter. I am really looking forward to playing against the very best competition in the country. I am honored to have been selected and to represent West Chester Lakota and my team."
Other linebackers already in the game include Corey Nelson (Dallas, Texas/Skyline), who is the top linebacker in the Lone Star State in this class, and V.J. Fehoko (Honolulu, Hi./Farrington), who had 86 tackles and 20 sacks last year and is the next big prospect to come off the islands. There is also Shaun Lewis (Missouri City, Texas/Hightower), who had 24 tackles for loss last year and reminds some of 2009 Florida signee Jelani Jenkins, and Christian Jones (Oviedo, Fla./Lake Howell), who had 159 tackles last season and is considering USC, Florida, Miami and FSU. No word if the Seminoles have the advantage since his brother and dad both played there.
Joyner, who is considering Florida, Ohio State, Miami, FSU and Notre Dame, leads an impressive group of defensive backs. Joyner will be the latest high-level prospect out of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, the South Florida powerhouse, which has produced such standouts as Michael Irvin, Tavares Gooden, Brian Piccolo, Nate Salley, Major Wright and others.
"It's an honor to be chosen and recognized and shows all my hard work throughout high school has paid off," Joyner said.
Other cornerbacks include Texas commit Adrian White (Desoto, Texas/Desoto), who had eight pass break-ups last year, Toney Hurd Jr. (Missouri City, Texas/Fort Bend Marshall), who led his team with five interceptions and has offers from Oklahoma, Texas A&M and others, and John Fulton (Manning, S.C./Manning), who is a taller corner near the top of the board for many Southeastern teams, including Georgia, Alabama and Florida, all of which have offered.
Alec Ogletree (Newnan, Ga./Newnan) is a player most of the programs in the Southeast want. The 6-3, 210-pound safety packs a punch and is known for his physical play. He had 62 tackles a season ago and while Miami (Fla.) is his leader and many believe he's likely to end up in Coral Gables, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and others are still trying to land him. Texas commit Ahmad Dixon (Waco, Texas/Midway), who had more than 110 tackles last season, is the other safety prospect named to the roster. Also, Nick Dew (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial), a safety/OLB prospect, will be in Orlando as well. He's 6-2, 200 pounds and runs a 4.41 40.
Defensive line is well represented, highlighted by one of Michigan's top prospects in William Gholston (Detroit/Southeastern), who had more than 100 tackles last season and has a national offer list, and Corey Miller (Duncan, S.C./James F. Byrnes), an elite pass-rusher from one of the Southeast's best high school programs.
A pair of Texas defensive tackle commits, Taylor Bible (Denton, Texas/Guyer) and Ashton Dorsey (Tyler, Texas/John Tyler), are on the roster. Bible had five sacks a season ago while Dorsey had nearly 20 tackles for loss. Both are heading to Austin to play for the Longhorns. Other defensive tackles named include Miami commit Louis Nix (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines), who was a standout at the Jacksonville Under Armour Combine earlier this spring and could be the best overall prospect in northern Florida, and Evan Hailes (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith), who had nine sacks last year and holds offers from Virginia Tech, Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, West Virginia and others.
They'll be chasing one of the best backs in the country in Dyer. In the tradition of elite athletes such as Darren McFadden and Matt Jones, Dyer (Little Rock, Ark./Little Rock Christian) is the next great prospect from the Natural State. He rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season and was the Gatorade/ESPN Rise state Player of the Year. The 5-9, 200-pounder is clearly one of the top prospects at his position in the country.
"I watched the packet of DVDs on the practices, game and skills challenge and I just think it is going to be great," Dyer said. "I like the look and feel of the event. It just looks like lot of fun and the week is planned out real good."
Dyer added that he believes he will get a feel for how he stacks up against the best athletes in the country.
"Competition is competition," he said. "You always hear about (the high school football talent in) Arkansas and Texas being real good, but now it will be the best of the best from everywhere and I look forward to that. I look forward to see who stacks up down in Orlando."
Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, LSU and others are in hot pursuit of Dyer.
Other running backs selected include Jordon James (Corona, Calif./Corona), who rushed for 1,135 yards in just five games last season, and Mack Brown (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King), who reminds some recruiting insiders and college coaches of Clemson All-American candidate C.J. Spiller coming out of high school.
Montana (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), the son of NFL legend Joe Montana and one of the top signal-callers in the country, is considering Ohio State, LSU, Alabama, Notre Dame and Stanford. Sims (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith) is the next great quarterback prospect from the Tidewater area of Virginia, and Bell (Wichita, Kan./Bishop Carroll), is a 6-6 dual-threat quarterback who had more than 3,500 yards of total offense last season.
"It's new and going into the third year. The 10 hours of TV coverage on ESPN, Disney World, the Wide World of Sports Complex and all the events are just a great combination of fun and competition. I just like how new and fresh it is," Bell said. "I am really looking forward to meeting all the other guys. The competition is going to be great, but I'm not going to stress. I just want to enjoy the event and have fun."
This group of elite QBs will have a great group of receivers to throw to in Orlando, including Justin Hunter (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes), who is in the mold of Georgia's Green. The 6-4, 175-pounder caught 47 passes and scored 10 touchdowns last year. Hunter holds offers from Virginia Tech, Alabama, LSU and others. Other receivers named to the roster include explosive playmaker Chris Dunkley (Royal Palm Beach, Fla./Royal Palm Beach), who averaged more than 20 yards per reception last season and was a fixture on the sidelines observing practice at the 2009 Under Armour All-American game. There is also LSU receiver commit Mike Davis (Dallas, Texas/Skyline) and Tai-ler Jones (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville), who has scholarship offers from nearly 40 programs, including Notre Dame where his father Andre Jones played linebacker before heading to the NFL. Also included is Solomon Patton (Mobile, Ala./Murphy), who is only 5-10, 170 pounds, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for with his sprinter's speed, quickness and big-play ability.
Dunkley, for one, is looking forward to the competition and takes special pride in players from the state of Florida being on the roster.
"It feels real good to be going to the game with (Joyner). I know that during the practices we are going to have a lot of fun, but I also know that we are going to be able to put people to shame from out-of-state. I know that for a fact," Dunkley said. "People from out-of-state that come to Florida for this game, we are going to be going at them."
Tight end Xavier Grimble (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman) is the next major prospect to come out of his high school, which is by far the top talent-producing program in the state of Nevada. Grimble averaged more than 25 yards per reception last year and is an excellent blocker. Many of the nation's top programs have offered, including Southern California and Oklahoma, which has signed Justin Chaisson, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Reynolds out of Gorman in recent recruiting cycles. The other tight end named is Travis Dickson (Ocean Springs, Miss./Ocean Springs), one of the top overall prospects in the Deep South and the younger brother of LSU tight end Richard Dickson.
Offensive tackle JaWuan James (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) was very excited to be selected. The 6-8, 320-pounder is one of the top offensive linemen in the Southeast and has college scholarship offers from coast-to-coast as Southern California and most of the SEC programs all are in hot pursuit.
"I look at it as a great opportunity to be picked for this game," James said. "I think it's going to be great to get out there and play on ESPN."
James isn't the only elite offensive line prospect named to the roster. Florida commit Ian Silberman (Fleming Island, Fla./Fleming Island) is one of the most physically impressive prospects at his position in the country. Other offensive linemen include another prospect committed to an SEC program in Arkansas pledge Cam Feldt (Pilot Point, Texas/Pilot Point Selz) and fellow Texan Luke Joeckel (Arlington, Texas/Arlington), who is going through the process with his twin brother Luke and has more than a dozen scholarship offers from major programs. Center Miles Dieffenbach (Pittsburgh, Pa./Fox Chapel) is one of the best offensive line prospects from Western Pennsylvania, an area known for producing great prospects at that position, and Chad Lindsay (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) is a guard who is considering LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia and Tennessee.
Athlete Corey Brown (Springfield, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) has scholarship offers from multiple programs, including Penn State, Florida and a number of others. In addition to Brown, DeMarco Cobbs (Tulsa, Okla./Central) also has been named to the game as an athlete. The 6-1, 198-pounder is an extremely impressive prospect, totaling nearly 2,500 yards of total offense last season and racking up an impressive offer list, which includes Oklahoma, Florida, Southern California, Texas, Alabama and others.
"The game has the top players," he said. "ESPN televising lets you know that the top players are going to be there. It's an honor to be selected."
Tom Luginbill, Craig Haubert, Bill Conley and Billy Tucker contributed to this article.
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.