Under Armour practice matchups to see
The Under Armour All-America Game pits the best versus the best. So many great players are on the field that the entire week can be overwhelming, especially during the simultaneous practices on two fields. Although there are countless great matchups to watch during the week of practices, these are some we think are certainly worth checking out. Remember, you can view the practices and these matchups on ESPNU (Jan. 2 at 3 p.m. ET and Jan. 3 at 4 p.m. ET).
Clowney, from South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, S.C., has excellent reach and outstanding first-step quickness, and he can be tough to block. However, the tall and rangy defender also can play high at times. It will be fun to see whether Westerman can handle Clowney's quickness and get a good-enough shot to push him off the ball. On the flip side, it will be interesting to see how Clowney can anchor when the tenacious blocker gets into him. Will Westerman be able to drive him off the ball? Or will the quick and powerful Clowney be able to use his reach, hold his ground and do what he normal does -- swallow up ball carriers?
There also should be some fireworks when these two face off in one-on-one pass protection. The interesting thing to see will be whether Westerman can handle Clowney's quickness and length. Also, although Westerman has good athleticism and nimble feet, he can be overaggressive, and if he tries to look for a big punch and gets overextended, Clowney will take advantage of that opportunity and work by him quickly. We recently saw Clowney dominate a regional all-star game, and two summers ago, we saw Westerman, then a rising junior, hold his own against several of the nation's top defensive ends at a USC summer camp. Both have excellent ability and can rise to the occasion against good opposition, and now we'll see how these two five-star prospects fare against each other.
OT Cyrus Kouandjio vs. DE Jadeveon Clowney
Going into the Under Armour All-America Game, you would give Clowney the edge in one-on-one pass-rushing drills, while Kouandjio is a little more ahead as a run-blocker compared to his pass0blocking. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Kouandjio, from DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md., handles someone with similar attributes. Both players will need to make sure that all aspects of their game are sharp. Clowney's first-step quickness could frustrate the best, and Kouandjio will need to play with good technique, but if the No. 2-rated offensive tackle can get his hands on Clowney, he has the reach, power, athleticism and mean streak to stuff or ride him past the pocket. Clowney is a dangerous pass-rusher, but he will need to be sure to have a plan when attacking Kouandjio.
While Heyward, from Point Loma High School in San Diego, Calif., shows good ability as a pass rusher, Hobbi can be a tough obstacle as a pass protector. He has a good, quick set and is also good with his hands and can deliver a devastating initial punch. In one-on-one pass-rushing drills it will be fun to see to how these two against each other.
Crowell, from Carver High School in Columbus, Ga., will be a true test during the week, not so much during nine-on-seven, downhill run-oriented drills but on seven-on-seven passing matchups where the 6-3, 230-pound thick linebacker may have to open his hips and turn and run with ESPN's No. 1 ranked rusher. The Under Armour week may give us a good idea of whether the future Spartan has the hips to play outside, must remain inside or needs to play with his hand on the ground.
Miller is one of the top run-defenders among the ends. He will give up a considerable amount of bulk to Collins, but Miller has a good reach and uses it well. He shoots his hands, and despite being a little long and lean, he plays with good leverage and can be tough to block one-on-one. Collins has great explosion to quickly get into a defender as well as the playing strength and balance to control and knock a defender back. It will be interesting to see whether Miller can press the bigger, stronger Collins off him and hold his ground or whether Miller's athleticism and ability to defend the run with good technique will neutralize Collins' domination as a run-blocker.
Mangiro, from Roxbury High School in Succasunna, N.J., is an athletic big man who combines some Northeast big-city swagger with toughness. His feet should help him deal with the quickness of Johnson, and his size and strength should help him anchor if Johnson tries to win with power. The Penn State commit has the tools to handle quick or powerful defenders, but it will be interesting to see how he matches up with Johnson, who can attack with a very good combination of both. The battles inside often don't get much attention, but this is one you will want to check out.
Williams, from Ridge Community High School in Davenport, Fla., is a safety with good size and overall athleticism. He can hit like a linebacker and cover like a defensive back with matching ball skills. Throwing his way is a risky proposition. These are two big, athletic and well-rounded players at their respective positions, and they should collide for some fun and exciting matchups in the passing game.
Williams' only concerns when projecting him for the next level are his narrow base frame and whether he will be able to earn productive yards after contact for Oklahoma. Anthony will be a good test because he's one of the bigger and more explosive linebackers in the country and makes a living on driving through ball carriers and limiting second efforts.
Craig Haubert is the recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting and has more than a decade of coaching experience. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter. Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school levels.
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2011 Under Armour All-America Game
The nation's top prospects will be on display during the Under Armour All-America Game.
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