SAN ANTONIO -- The East and West teams hit the field in the Alamodome for the better part of three hours on Wednesday's U.S. Army All-American Game practice. Both teams went through a light, spirited intersquad scrimmage sandwiched between position work, receiver/defensive back one-on-ones and special teams work.
But it was after practice that things began to heat up. There are a number of prospects expected to announce their college decisions on Saturday during the game, as well as number who have made the turn and are headed down the home stretch of recruiting with only a couple of January visits left before making commitments. After practice was when the recruits started talking about who they like, where they're visiting and their plans heading up to signing day.
One of the top prospects set to announce on Saturday is defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (Philadelphia, Pa./George Washington). The No. 70 prospect in the ESPNU 150 has been thought to be down to three schools -- Ohio State, Florida and North Carolina -- but has mentioned South Carolina as a possibility after many thought the Gamecocks were out of the running.
Ohio State has been rumored to be the favorite to land the 6-foot-3, 309-pounder since his official visit October 23, but Florida and North Carolina are squarely in the mix. Floyd spent time talking up the Gators after practice.
"Florida overall, I genuinely care about Coach (Urban) Meyer and we talk on a daily basis," Floyd said. "It's the same thing with Ohio State. I talk with them everyday. I just like Florida and what the program has to offer."
For North Carolina, the prospect/coach relationship has developed into more than pigskin conversations behind the efforts of assistant John Blake.
"We have a really great relationship. We talk on a daily basis too. When we talk, we just bust it up and have fun. We don't talk about football," Floyd said.
But Floyd is glad the process is nearly over and has a feeling his decision will get people talking.
"I do know my decision," he said. "I think a lot of people are going to be shocked by my decision. I can't wait. It will be a lot of weight lifted off of my shoulders. Then I can talk about my school, sit back, relax and finish the rest of my senior year."
Ferguson to visit Oklahoma, one more
Defensive end J.R. Ferguson (Frederick, Md.//Hargrave Military) may win the award for most miles traveled by a recruit in the 2010 class. The 6-3, 272-pound bull-rushing end has already tripped to out west to see California, north to Notre Dame and south to Baton Rouge to check out LSU.
Later this month, the No. 139 prospect in the ESPNU 150 will trek to Oklahoma, and quite possibly back to the West Coast.
"I have two visits left," Ferguson said. "I have one visit set for Oklahoma on January 22 and then I'm considering Florida State, Miami, UCLA and South Carolina for my final visit,"
The Bruins have gone from the outside looking in to having a legit shot at nailing down Ferguson's fifth official visit after an impressive in-home visit by head coach Rick Neuheisel.
"It was good," Ferguson said. "He was the first coach to come in and show me love and everything. That home visit is why they are still under consideration for an official visit."
Having already taken official visits to LSU (October 30), Notre Dame (November 20) and California (December 11), plus a number of unofficial visits in the past, becoming enamored with a school can be easy. Ferguson is trying to avoid that and give everyone an equal chance.
"I'm kind of still open basically. I'm trying to take these last two visits before I really start narrowing things down," he said. "Each of the visits I've taken has had a special meaning to me. Going to Notre Dame and seeing the academics was the best I've ever seen. Going to California and see how the players are treated was great. Then going to LSU and seeing how I got along with the players was great too.
"I want to pray on everything and make the decision that helps my family and helps me with early playing time."
LSU is considered to be at or near the top of the list at the moment.
• Trovon Reed (Thibadeaux, La./Thibadeaux) will play both ways on Saturday. He has been working out at receiver and corner for the West team. On the recruiting front, the four-star prospect will visit Auburn (Jan. 16) and LSU (Jan. 23). The Auburn commit says it would take a lot to change his mind.
"I doubt if I change my mind, but I'm still going to take the visit because anything can happen. I've just got to see the deal over there," he said. "I feel like LSU likes to play big ol' receivers and at Auburn they are shifty and run tricky plays with smaller guys. I feel like I fit in better at Auburn."
Reed committed to Auburn on November 13.
• Safety Ahmad Dixon (Waco, Texas/Midway) continues to be a Baylor commit, but programs from the SEC and Pac-10 are in line to receive visits.
"I'm either going to Alabama or USC on January 15. That's about it for other visits. I'll take my Baylor visit on January 23," Dixon said.
Tennessee continues to be in the picture after Vols defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin made a home visit recently. Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Alabama have visiting as well.
Look for Dixon to trip to USC next weekend, along with running back Lache Seastrunk (Temple, Texas/Temple).
• The top prospect set to announce on Saturday is defensive end Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde). The 6-4, 224-pounder has cut his list to two programs -- USC and Florida -- but isn't tipping his hand.
"I'm really not sure," Powell said. "I'm just looking up to God right now and letting him decide for me. I'm just walking in his footsteps. It's Florida and SC. I don't have anything set up. I'm living for the moment and whatever God says."
Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for more than a decade. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.