- Gerry Hamilton, RecruitingNation
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Christian Westerman (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) had a pretty good month. Actually, he had a really good early April.
Westerman, one of the best offensive linemen in the country, announced he would attend Texas on the same day he accepted a bid to play in the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game.
"It's like a big family there [at Texas]," Westerman said. "I made a family decision."
He's just one of the many UA All-Americans to commit to a top program. The roster, now up to 50 and adding top players regularly, features players committed to Texas, Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma, along with many others. And that's not even counting the players who are still undecided and choosing among the nation's best teams. It's a roster loaded with players who will shine for big-time programs in the not-so-distant future.
Westerman will not be the lone future Longhorn suiting up in the Under Armour game. Fellow Texas commitments Desmond Jackson (Spring, Texas/Westfield) and Quandre Diggs (Angleton, Texas/Angelton), the younger brother of San Diego Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer, have also accepted invitations.
"The Under Armour All-America Game just seemed like it would be a good time for both myself and my family," Westerman said earlier in the month. "I am looking forward to playing in the game."
Westerman is part of a special 2011 class from Arizona. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Westerman will be joined by offensive guard Cyrus Hobbi (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro High), offensive tackle Andre Yruretagoyena (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) and quarterback Brett Hundley (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler High).
"Hundley is a rising commodity at the position and a prospect we feel resembles Donovan McNabb at the high school level in regards to his size, arm strength and athleticism in the pocket," said Tom Luginbill, the national recruiting director for ESPN Recruiting, who grades the quarterbacks. "The six quarterbacks who comprise the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game roster could pan out to be the best collective group we have assembled to date."
That's big praise for the group considering last year's group featured QBs who signed with Oklahoma (Blake Bell), Alabama (Phillip Sims), Washington (Nick Montana), USC (Jesse Scroggins), Boston College (Chase Rettig) and Michigan (Devin Gardner). But the group includes Hundley, Kiehl Frazier (Springdale, Ark./Shiloh Christian), Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, Fla./Paul J. Hagerty), Christian LeMay (Mint Hill, N.C./Butler High), Braxton Miller (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne High) and Kendal Thompson (Moore, Okla./Southmoore).
Driskel, a 6-4, 224-pound right-hander, made big news recently by committing to the University of Florida.
"I've been to a lot of places, and the atmosphere [at Florida] just felt right," Driskel said. "I have built great relationships with members of that coaching staff. They are always going to be competing in the best conference in the nation on a weekly basis."
Running back Brandon Williams (Brookshire, Texas/Royal) accepted an invitation to the game on Thursday night. He is one of several talented running backs in Texas in the junior class rising from the virtual unknown four months ago. Williams may have the highest upside of the group of talented runners in the state.
"It means a lot," Williams said. "I found out about the Under Armour game when I was a freshman and have watched it every year. It's like a dream come true to me to get to play with all of the high-profile players. It just hit me. I wasn't really expecting this as a freshman, you just dreamed of this. If you have big dreams, sometimes they do come true."
Williams decommitted from Baylor and committed to Oklahoma on Monday.
Another recent addition to the game is safety Hasean Clinton-Dix (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips). The 6-2, 200-pound, hard-hitting and versatile defensive back had his eyes on the Under Armour All-America Game for a couple of years.
"I'm very excited about playing in the Under Armour game. I wanted to play in it since my sophomore year and I just thank God for the opportunity," Clinton-Dix said.
The latest in a long line of Orlando area defenders, Clinton-Dix made a college commitment recently.
"I think I made a great decision with Alabama," he said. "I went where my heart was."
Another prospect who has made a recent commitment is Reese Dismukes (Spanish Fort, Ala./Spanish Fort). The 6-3, 275-pound center was an in-state battle between national champion Alabama and Auburn, with the Tigers coming out on top.
Dismukes is one of two offensive line commitments for Auburn playing in the game. Guard Spencer Region (Cullman, Ala./Cullman), at 6-5 and 339 pounds, is a force on the inside and will be one of the biggest players in next year's game.
So far, LSU has the most commitments in the game with four. Left tackle La'El Collins (Baton Rouge, La./Redeptorist), receiver Jarvis Landry (Lutcher, La./Lutcher), defensive tackle Anthony "Freak" Johnson (New Orleans, La./O. Perry Walker) and running back Kenny Hilliard (Patterson, La./Patterson) are four of the top prospects out of a state that is loaded in the 2011 class.
For as many players as have committed, there are more than twice as many who are uncommitted. Specifically, there are more than 30 undecided players, including athletic defensive end/outside linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, Fla./Plantation High).
"Shazier is one of the more intriguing defenders in this class. An explosive edge defender in high school who we project he will take that quick-twitch athleticism back to outside linebacker in college," said ESPN Recruiting analyst Billy Tucker. "Though projected and listed at linebacker, Shazier could also see some reps at DE during the week as an Under Armour All-American to showcase his pass-rushing skills."
The 6-1, 200-pound Shazier features 4.45 40 speed, a 38-inch vertical and an elite-level first step. His recruitment could be shaping up to be a Florida-Florida State battle, among more than 20 offers.
Another South Florida prospect who has yet to decide is blazing fast receiver Tacoi Sumler (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus). The 5-8, 157-pound jet could be the fastest player in the game after running a 4.33 and 4.35 40-yard dashes at the South Florida Under Armour Combine earlier this year. Clemson, South Carolina and Auburn are believed to be the top three for the receiver and return specialist.
Athlete Giorgio Newberry (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Central) is the most recent player to accept an invitation to the game. The 6-5, 249-pound versatile prospect will probably come in as a tackle, but will take reps at defensive end, as well. Florida, Florida State, Miami and Notre Dame are thought to be the top four with Florida State the team to beat.
There are many more uncommitted players and here's a breakdown of which schools the uncommitted players in the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game are considering:
Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for more than a decade. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. JC Shurburtt contributed to this report.
The 2011 Under Armour All-America Game is loaded with players heading to, or choosing between, top programs, writes Gerry Hamilton.