SAN ANTONIO - A.J. Derby, Andrew Donnal and C.J. Fiedorowicz posed for pictures as their parents clicked away here on Saturday. Behind them on the Alamo Dome field, other players were being mobbed by the media and autograph seekers.
Yes, the three Iowa commitments signed for some fans. A few journalists spoke to them. But they clearly were character actors in this show that is the U.S. Army All-American game in the eyes of many onlookers.
Some of the top prep football players from around the country gathered here for the week to test their skills against each other. Many of them chose their schools during the national television broadcast and gained attention for doing so.
The Iowa guys flew under the attention radar for the most part. They did get a chance to say "we're going to the University of…Iowa (as they put on Hawkeye hats) during the broadcast.
They showed they belonged here. Derby looked as good as any of the quarterbacks during the week. Donnal was on the offensive line for both East squad scores on Saturday. Fiedorowicz caught a two-point conversion and blocked well (he was proud of it).
The Iowa commitments watched the Orange Bowl together Tuesday night at Dave and Buster's while the rest of the all-Americans played video games. They bonded this week. In interviews, they came off as great fits for the Iowa program.
They're all confident in their abilities but admit weaknesses. There's no air of entitlement or conceit.
Will all three of these guys be stars at Iowa because they played in this game? One need look back no farther than the ‘05 Army game to understand that nothing is guaranteed.
Derby, Donnal and Fiedorowicz most assuredly guaranteed at least one thing here. Their presence sealed their fates as players with high expectations. From what I learned this week, they all have broad enough shoulders to carry them.
I'll be doing evaluations on each of the players this week. But first, here are some notes from Saturday's game.
-Derby and Fiedorowicz each played on special teams. Derby was the long snapper on punts and Fiedorwicz long snapped on field goals.
Derby delivered the hit of the day on punt coverage when he darted down and met the return man right after he caught the ball.
-As we stated above, Donnal blocked on both East scoring drives. After a slow first half where he showed the ability to come off the ball with quickness and good foot work but also was beaten bad a few times, he played consistently well after half time.
-Officials called back two of Derby's big pass plays for penalties. Both times, the East was on the opponent's side of the field.
The Iowa City, City High quarterback saw his first action in the final 29 seconds of the first half. A 20-yard pass into the red zone came back because of an infraction.
-Fiedorowicz only was thrown to once on the day. He made good on the opportunity.
Quarterback Cole Marcoux (Dartmouth) found the big tight end target on a drag route for a two-point conversion. At the time, it cut the West advantage to 23-14 with 7:01 to play in the game.
In fairness, Derby had at least a few balls dropped by a receiver. He also threw one to Prater from 32 yards in the end zone that looked close to being a reception but officials ruled it hit the ground when the receiver made contact with the field.
One throw Derby would like to have back was a potential touchdown toss to Christian Green in the third quarter. Derby avoided the rush, stepped up in the pocket but threw short to the receiver at the five-yard line in what would have been a touchdown.
-After the game, the field was open for fans to get autographs. Several children approached Derby for his signature. A few asked for items of his uniform.
Derby parted with his wrist bands. He even gave up his play card. He stopped when asked for his cleats. He wore them when he led City High to the state championship this fall.