Jackson MVP despite ill-advised flip

SAN ANTONIO --- DeSean Jackson was a human highlight reel Saturday afternoon at the US Army All-American Bowl Game. His seven pass receptions for 141 yards and touchdown pass off a reverse to quarterback Ryan Perrilloux earned the 5-11, 180-pound speedster the Pete Dawkins Trophy as the Most Valuable Player, leading the West to a 35-3 win over the East. Jackson reeled off one dazzling play after another, but the play that everyone will remember most is the one he'd most like to forget.

Late in the first quarter, Jackson beat Miami Killian's Dee Morley (Tennessee commit) on a crossing route. He made the catch, took a right turn and turned on the jets, running untouched down the sideline. Six yards from the end zone, he went high in the air to try a spectacular flip into the end zone. The flip was fine except for the fact it came up a foot short of the target. The ball was ruled down at the one and Jackson was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"Oh man, I wish I could take that back," said Jackson of Long Beach (CA) Poly. "I know I shouldn't have done it but I made a big mistake. Fortunately, I got a chance to redeem myself later on in the game."

When Jackson left the field, he got a thorough chewing out from Herman Boone, the retired Virginia legend who coached at TC Williams in Arlington. As he did last year, Boone served as an honorary coach for the game. The movie "Remember the Titans" is the story of Boone's first year as the coach at TC Williams, a perfect season that ended with a Virginia state championship.

"He really got on me," said Jackson. "He was mad at me for doing the flip that I did. That was a mistake and I knew I had to come back strong, especially after he let me have it. He's a great man and I have a lot of respect for Coach Boone."

Boone said he chewed Jackson out "because he didn't think of doing that while he was running down the field. He had that planned out and it was wrong. You don't show up your teammates or your opponents. You never do that.

"I asked him what if that had cost his team the ball game? What if his showboating had resulted in losing that game? Could he have faced his teammates? Could he ever live that down?"

Jackson's numbers could have been even more spectacular except for a holding penalty called on Martellus Bennett (Miami, Texas, Oklahoma) that erased a 67-yard touchdown pass he caught from Mark Sanchez, the Southern Cal-bound quarterback. On that play, he simply made a couple of moves and blew by Hamilton, Ohio's Adam Myers-White, who committed during the game to Tennessee.

"I came into this game knowing that I was going to compete with the best and I felt I had a chance to rise to the occasion," he said. "Great players are the ones who rise to the occasion in big games. With all the All-Americans on each team and everyone watching on national television, I thought this was a very big game for me and a chance to rise to the occasion. When I got my chance I knew I had to make plays."

All week Jackson has said that he will consider Florida and LSU even though it is "going to take a lot to get me off the west coast." Defending champion Southern Cal and Cal are the two west coast schools that he has first and second on his list. All four schools have outstanding baseball programs to go with their top notch football teams.

"I told you I want to look at Florida seriously and I will," said Jackson. "You never know what might happen. If Florida's the best place for me, that's where I'll end up."


Another of the All-Americans who has both Southern Cal and Florida on his list of favorites is Brian Cushing, the 6-3, 228-pound middle linebacker from Bergen (NJ) Catholic, who played very well in the East loss.

"You would think we hadn't practiced all week the way we played," said Cushing. "I don't know why we played so poorly, but even with the loss, this was a great experience so I'm happy I was here."

After the San Antonio experience, Cushing's next two weeks will be a whirlwind of activity. Now that football season is officially over he wants to get the visits out of the way so he can make his choice. He has three more visits he is going to take and the visits will get done very quickly.

"I'll be flying to USC first thing tomorrow morning," he said. "I can't wait to get there because that's my leader right now, but I can't wait to see Miami and Florida, too."

Cushing says he's open to all the schools on his list, but says Southern Cal will be hard to beat if the visit rates a wow.

"Since they're my number one, if the visit is fantastic I think that's where I'll go," he said. "I'll stay open enough to let the other schools at least show me reasons why I should go there but if the visit is great at Southern Cal it will be very hard for anyone else. I'm not going to make up my mind until I've seen them all, though."


The loss was very tough to take for East left tackle Chris Scott, the 6-5, 315-pounder from Riverdale (GA) Lovejoy. The East offensive line, all of them over 300 pounds and so highly rated, was expected to dominate, but from the opening whistle, the West poured through the East line on almost every play. It was rare when one of the East quarterbacks had time to survey the entire field.

"Oh man they just got us," said the likeable Scott, seen for the first time in the moments after the game without the big grin that has made him one of the most popular kids at the game. "They got us out of our game early and we never got it together. I don't know what happened to us today. I know we're better than that."

Scott said that he's not ready to announce his college choice yet. It's down to Tennessee and Florida and the deciding factor is going to be engineering programs.

"I'm probably just going to talk things over with my parents, think about things and pray about it," he said. "I'll know in a week, week and a half where I'm going to go. The best way to do it is talk it over with my parents and then think of the pros and cons of both schools. It's a decision that affects all my life."


Another East All-American who was disappointed with the way the game turned out was linebacker Jerome Hayes of Bayonne, New Jersey. Like the other East players, he shook his head, wondering exactly what went wrong.

"It was a tough game," he said. "It's tough to come out here with such high expectations and everyone competes so hard. We didn't play well, but we did play hard.

"It's just one of those games, I guess. Everyone wants to win, but only one team can do that and today it was the West. The East won it two years in a row, so now I guess today was the West's turn to go home with a win."

He's going home to New Jersey where he'll be playing high school basketball. "I'm a rebounder and a defender," he said. "We've got people who can score. I can stroke it, but what they need me to do is play defense and get some rebounds."

In addition to playing basketball, he will be choosing among Florida, Rutgers or Penn State for his signing day choice.

"It's between University of Florida, Rutgers or Penn State," he said. "Everybody is pretty much even keel right now which means I've got some soul searching to do. I'll do a lot of talking things over with my family. I want to listen to my mom and dad and get their input."

He's not looking at the depth charts at the three schools on his list. Whether there are a lot or just a few linebackers on the roster won't make any difference to him.

"One thing my mom and dad always told me is never run away from competition but to embrace it," he said. "It doesn't make a difference to me. Wherever I go, if I get on the field and can prove I should be playing, then they'll put me on the field. All I can worry about is proving that I can do the job."


David Nelson didn't get many opportunities to touch the ball but he was pleased with his performance.

"They threw it to me three times," he said. "I made one catch (eight yards), drew a pass interference penalty when I was open deep and then the defensive back just made a great play to close while the ball was in the air and knock it away on the other one."

Throughout the game he was running deep routes down the sideline and across the middle. He said he ran his routes well and was in position to make plays.

"I was open just about every time but sometimes quarterbacks don't see you," he said. "Football's like that. Sometimes they see you every time you're open, sometimes they only see you when you're covered. They've got a lot of things coming at them when they're back there so they're never going to see everything. All you can do is get open every play you can and let them know you're beating your man."

He's already cancelled a visit to UCLA that was set for January 21. Instead, he will take that weekend to visit the University of Florida.

"I'll be announcing my choice maybe on the 25th or around there," he said.

Nelson has Notre Dame and Iowa also on his list. He's considered a leaner to Florida.


Fred Rouse of Tallahassee Lincoln showed some fast feet and fancy moves the few times he got his hands on the ball, but he didn't have many chances to show what he could do.

"Obviously I didn't get the ball nearly as much as I wanted," said the 6-4, 190-pounder who has narrowed his college choices to Alabama, Texas, Florida State and Miami. "We had a little bit of a quarterback problem getting the ball into the right spots and we just couldn't slow down their D-linemen to give them time to throw. You have days like that when nothing goes right."

He said he'll do some more investigating of the schools on his list before making his choice.

"They're all good schools," he said. "I don't think I could go wrong at any of them but I can't choose but one. Right now, I'd say it's gonna be a signing day decision and I can't honestly tell you which one it's going to be."

Although most Florida State fans think Rouse will choose the home town school, Rouse twice gave the "Hook 'em Horns" to the Texas fans during the game Saturday. He and quarterback Ryan Perrilloux of Reserve (LA) East St. John, a Texas commit, were inseparable friends during the week.


Iowa (four commits) and Tennessee (three commits) were the big winners for recruits on this day.

When linebacker Ryan Reynolds of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman announced for Oklahoma, the partisan Texas crowd booed. The clip of Reynolds putting on his Oklahoma baseball cap was shown on the jumbo-tron three or four times in the Alamo Dome, each time resulting in more boos.

Maurice Wells, the 5-10, 185-pound tailback of Jacksonville Sandalwood, said earlier in the week that he would open things up for more visits. However, on Saturday, he committed to Ohio State over Georgia Tech. At media day on Thursday, Wells had said he was thinking of taking a visit to the University of Florida.

The big surprise of the day was when wide receiver David Gettis of Los Angeles Dorsey announced for Baylor. That choice was such a shock that you could hear the gasps from the crowd.

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