- Jamie Newberg, RecruitingNation
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- All eyes are always on the quarterbacks, especially at all-star games. The first practice for the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game was no exception. The White team has three talented QBs in Max Wittek (Newport Beach, Calif./Mater Dei), Braxton Miller (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne) and Kendal Thompson (Oklahoma City, Okla./Southmoore), but Wittek, a USC commit, was the steadiest of the group.
"I think I did pretty good. Everyone got the plays down we put in today and I feel like I had a good day," Wittek said. "Sure I missed one or two passes but I will get it. We just need some more time to start clicking."
Day 1 is usually the roughest as the quarterbacks and receivers try to learn the plays and get into a rhythm. Saturday was no exception but as the practice session went on, they started to connect on a more frequent basis.
"I thought they were impressive, especially the first day with a brand new offense," said Chris Weinke, the former Heisman Trophy winner and quarterbacks coach of the White team. "They came in and played well. It's good to see I am excited to see how these guys progress this week."
Weinke had good things to say about his signal-callers, especially Wittek.
"I look at Max as a drop-back guy who throws a great ball. He has great anticipation, great feet and he really understands the game and what we are trying to teach him," Weinke said. "He's also very accurate."
For Wittek and his teammates, he just hopes to keep improving leading up to Wednesday's game (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"It's a high level of talent on both sides of ball," Wittek said. "I am just looking to synch up with everyone and get adjusted to this high level of talent."
Dominating DL for White team
The most impressive unit for the White team in Day 1 was the defensive line group made up of Anthony Johnson (New Orleans/O. Perry Walker), Antwaun Woods (Los Angeles/ Woodland Hills-Taft), Xzavier Dickson (Griffin, Ga./Griffin), Jordan Phillips (Towanda, Kan./Circle), Nathan Hughes (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak), and Kevin McReynolds (Silver Springs, Md./St. Johns College). As a unit, they were dominating from the start.
"Our DL wasn't playing around. We have a lot of top-ranked guys that were really playing hard," said Johnson, who's headed to LSU. "We have to keep working hard and keep fighting. We did really well in the one on ones and they have some great players on the other side like [Baton Rouge Redemptorist five-star OL] La'El Collins. I am sure they will come out hard tomorrow."
Johnson was a disruptive force early and often and Dickson was just as dominating from the defensive end position.
"That was a fun and energized practice," Dickson said. "I mean it's an adjustment. Everyone has size and is bigger, faster and stronger. But our [DL] group is physical, fast and very athletic. I mean these guys are big and fast."
Don't forget about the linebackers
The White team linebacker unit is big, fast and gets to the football in a hurry. The leader of this pack is Stephone Anthony (Polkton, N.C./Anson), the No. 1 outside linebacker prospect in the country.
"Day 1 was a great day and we had a lot of fun. It was good to compete," Anthony said. "The big adjustment is the speed of everyone. But we will catch on and feel at home soon."
That's the hard part of any all-star game, whether you play offense or defense. Everyone has to get on the same page and that is difficult to do in such a short amount of time.
"We have a great group of linebackers out here. Guys are flying all over the field," Anthony said. "After we bang around and get some more reps under us we will start get on the same page and really jell."
News and notes
• Collins was slowed by a mild ankle sprain. It affected his game, going up against top players in one-on-one drills.
"I'll be all right," Collins said. "I'll be ready tomorrow."
• There is plenty of wide receiver talent on the White team. LSU commitment Jarvis Landry (Convent, La./Lutcher) had a good practice and made some big plays, as did Quan Bray (LaGrange, Ga./Troup County).
• Don't sleep on RBs Mike Bellamy (Nocatee, Fla./Charlotte), Amir Carlisle (Santa Clara, Calif./The Kings Academy) and Brandon Williams (Katy, Texas/Brookshire Royal). Bellamy, a Clemson commit, Carlisle, a Stanford commit, and Williams, an Oklahoma commit, are all versatile backs with speed and quickness and can catch the ball out of the backfield.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.