Final Thoughts

Here are some final thoughts about an extraordinary week in San Antonio, Texas in covering the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

After spending a week in San Antonio, Texas for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl I realized something. Dave Telep and the basketball recruiting analysts have it made when it comes to evaluating hoops prospects. They have their AAU tournaments where all the elite college basketball prospects attend and they get to scout them all at once and against each other multiple times during the year. That would make our jobs as football recruiting analysts so easy.

But for this past week in San Antonio that's what we had with 78 terrific players from coast to coast. It was truly a phenomenal week in many ways. had access to everything and all the kids. We got to watch practice from practically the huddles and watch these players up close each and every day. had total access.

With that being said here are some final thoughts from San Antonio.

After much deliberation quarterback Ryan Perrilloux (photo right) is the top recruit in the country in my eyes. Is he as polished as Mark Sanchez? No. But he does things that you can't coach and he has been blessed with so many God giving talents. Perrilloux, from LaPlace (La.) East St. John High School, is a leader with a big-time arm. He has a willingness to learn and soak things up. And his best attribute is his sheer athleticism. He may not be the best quarterback right now but I believe he has more upside than anyone I saw in Texas this past week. If Perrilloux does all the right things at the next level there is no telling how good he can become.

Another prospect that really turned my head was linebacker Rey Maualuga (photo left) from Eureka (Cal.) High School. Maualuga is what a middle linebacker should be – big, tough, physical, nasty and a sideline to sideline guy. Watching him up close in practice showed me what this kid is all about and Southern Cal is getting yet another tremendous linebacker prospect in Maualuga.

This year's group of defensive back prospects is outstanding and each squad was loaded. To me the most impressive player in the secondary was Demetrice Morley from Miami (Fla.) Killian High School. Morley is physical at the line of scrimmage. In fact, all the East wide receivers, including the enormous Patrick Turner, had trouble just getting off the line of scrimmage against Morley. And when they did, Morley rarely got beat. Another thing about Morley is that this is a future free safety that covers like a cornerback. He is simply an outstanding defensive back that should make an early impact at Tennessee.

But he was not the only one. On the west, three stood out, Reggie Smith, Kevin Thomas and Derek Pegues (photo left). Smith, from Edmund (Ok.) Sante Fe High School, is a future free safety that is blessed to be just an extraordinary athlete. He still needs to work on his coverage skills but once he gets that done he will be absolutely sensational. Thomas, from Oxford (Cal.) Rio Mesa, showed all week why he was one of the most coveted defensive backs in the nation. He can just flat out cover. Plain and simple. Pegeus, from Batesville (Miss.) South Panola High School, had a good week of practice and a sensational game on Saturday. If you had to name a defensive MVP, he may be your man. To think he has played this position (cornerback) so little in high school is mind-boggling. Pegues blanketed the East receivers the entire game and showed great coverage skills.

There were others that shined during the week as well. Justin King (Monroeville, Pa.), Bryan Evans (Jacksonville, Fla.), JaMario O'Neal (Cleveland, Ohio - photo right), Kenny Phillips (Miami, Fla.), Victor Harris (Highland Springs, Va.), Michael Ray Garvin (Ramsey, N.J.), Leon Jackson (Pasco, Wa.) and Brandon Tatum (Fort Worth, Texas) all had shining moments and showed why they deserved to be U.S. Army All-Americans.

As far as the wide receivers, three stood out above all the others. Yes we were all excited to see Fred Rouse (and he didn't disappoint) but he wasn't one of the this trio. I am talking about Patrick Turner, DeSean Jackson (photo left) and Trey Stross. Turner was hands down the top wide receiver day in and day out. Turner, from Madison(Tenn.) Goodpasture, was dazzling each and every day. I don't care what he didn't do in the game. One thing we were all wondering about Turner was his speed. Was Turner a wide receiver or a tight end? Well, he answered this question and he certainly has enough speed to be an outstanding wide receiver at the next level. Turner makes the routine catch and the spectacular catch. He runs good routes and does not loaf whatsoever. But it's his size that impresses you the most. Stross, an East teammate with Turner, had a quiet game and a quiet week of practice. But I will say this, Iowa is getting themselves one heck of a talent. Stross, from Avon Lake (Ohio) High School, was as consistent as any player on either team. He works hard, makes all the catches and has great athleticism. Once he fills out that frame of his he will turn into a dominating wide receiver for the Hawkeyes. Mark that down right now. Jackson, like Turner, was spectacular all week, especially in the game (minus the leap at the goal line). Yes he lacks the size of the other elite wide receivers but this kid is as big-time as they come. Jackson, from Long Beach (Cal.) Poly High School, has great hands and super speed and quickness. In practice, he showed how dangerous he truly is with the ball in his hands. Jackson can stop and start on a dime and really make the defensive backs miss. On top of that, he has another gear in the open field. I also want to make mention of David Gettis from Los Angeles (Cal.) Dorsey High School. This kid really caught my eye all week. He's a big target that's a big play guy.

We were all impressed with the quarterback play of Perrilloux and Sanchez (photo right). You can see that Sanchez (Mission Viejo, Cal.) is so well schooled. That's what impressed me the most. When his first option is taken away he instantly knows where to go with the football. He makes good, quick and decisive decisions and throws a very accurate ball.

But no one on either team gained more respect from the team than Jonathan Crompton (Waynesville, N.C. - photo left). Granted the East quarterbacks struggled in the game itself, but you had to see Crompton everyday in practice. First of all Crompton is a very big quarterback and physically ready for college football. There is no question about that. Secondly, he has great command with his teammates and in the huddle. Crompton does all the things very well that you can't see in the box score or watching him throw a pass. Speaking of throwing, he has a very good and accurate arm and he can also really move.

Linemen. Well, there is a ton to talk about. Offensively, for the East, they were all very impressive during the week. Some had better days than others. But to a man, all seven of these guys are very, very talented – Eugene Monroe (Plainfield, N.J.), Alex Boone (Lakewood, Ohio - photo right), Chris Scott (Lovejoy, Ga.), Dan Doering (Barrington, Ill.- photo right), Dace Richardson (Wheaton, Ill.), Michael Oher (Memphis, Tenn.) and Marques Slocum (Philadelphia, Pa.). Boone was probably the most consistent of the bunch while Slocum showed he may be the best athlete of the bunch. They all have "it" and should be very good at the next level. On the West side, Reggie Youngblood (Houston, Texas) stood above all the others. After a horrible first day he showed why he deserved to be there. Another West OL standout was Josh McNeil (Collins, Ms.). He is a great team guy and the nation's top center prospect. McNeil has all the tools to be an outstanding player in Knoxville and will only get bigger and stronger.

On the other side of the ball the DL MVP for both squads had to be Roy Miller (Killeen, Texas - photo left). From Tuesday on he was simply unblockable in practice and the game itself. This kid is a warrior that knows how to use leverage, stay low and make a play. Also impressive was Aaron Lewis (Albuquerque, N.M.) and DeMarcus Granger (Dallas, Texas). Lewis shocked even his teammates with his early play while Granger is a forceful inside presence at tackle.

On Wednesday night, defensive end Melvin Alaeze (Randallstown, Md. - photo - right) came down to our media center and made his pitch that he is a defensive end, not a defensive tackle at the next level. You see, we see him as a 300-pound d-tackle in college. Alaeze is just a great physical specimen. He is so quick off the ball, fast and very strong. But within a few years he will put on a good 25-30 pounds of muscle and be an outstanding interior DL for Maryland. He was impressive all week. So was Earl Heyman. Along with Stross, Heyman was a nice and pleasant surprise this week. Heyman, from Louisville (Ky.) Ballard High School, had a super week of practice and he showed why he belonged in this football game. He has a non-stop motor and showed speed, strength and quickness.

As far as the linebackers go, I already talked about Maualuga. Well, others stood out like Rico McCoy (Washington D.C.), Derek Nicholson (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Ryan Reynolds (Las Vegas, Nev.), Phillip Dillard (Jenks, Ok.), Travis Beckum and Brian Cushing (Oradell, N.J.- photo left). McCoy could be the fastest of the bunch. Once he gets in the weight room and fills out watch out. He looks like a weak-side backer all the way and this kid plays all over the field. Nicholson had a steady week of practice and he really shined in the game. He plugs the hole well and is a big time tackler. Reynolds, like McCoy, will likely play at "WILL" and what impressed me the most about him was his read and recognition. Once he knew where the ball was he was there making a play. And he can really lay the wood as well. Dillard is certainly not as fast and athletic as the others but he is always in the right place and he makes plays. And he may have been the best cover linebacker that I saw all week on either squad. If there is one word to describe Beckum it's specimen. Of all the kids, he may have been the best "big" athlete there. First of all, I still think he could grow into a rush end. He certainly has the frame. And when he wants to dominate he can. He's physical and he can really move. If he does stay at linebacker he will need to learn how to play in coverage. Cushing, like Maualuga, is just plain mean out there. I love players with that nasty streak and Cushing certainly has that and than some. He's physical and very athletic.

The hardest position to get a read on all week was running back. The East squad did very little hitting but you can see how talented some of the backs were like Rashard Mendenhall (Skokie, Ill.), Jason Gwaltney (North Babylon, N.Y.) and Toney Baker (Jamestown, N.C.). Mendenhall put on a show on day one of practice and then tweaked his hamstring. This kid is built, has great quickness and speed and showed great hands. Gwaltney just looks like a player. He is rock solid from head to toe and should be a great inside runner at the next level. Baker got better by the day and by the end of the week may have been the top back on either side. He has the size and speed combination that schools covet and he runs with authority. On the West squad all the backs looked good – Jonathan Stewart (Lacey, Wa.), Marlon Lucky (North Hollywood. Cal.- photo right), Jamaal Charles (Port Arthur, Texas) and R.J. Jackson (Houston, Texas). Stewart is everything I thought he was; a power runner with good speed and excellent balance. If you didn't see the game then you missed a great touchdown run by Lucky. He is so explosive and shows great vision. Charles is shifty and he has the ability to make you miss. Jackson is just versatile. I am not so sure he may not be better suited to play cornerback at the next level. He has great size and speed and the hips to excel at that position.

The final group I want to talk about is tight ends.'s top three played in the game, DajLeon Farr (Galena Park, Texas), Martellus Bennett (Houston, Texas - photo left) and Tony Moeaki (Wheaton, Ill.). I think Moeaki was the best for this week. He can block very well and he sure has soft hands and catches everything in site. Farr certainly looked the part and he had his good and bad moments during the week. The same holds true for Bennett. He is without question, the most athletic of the bunch in my eyes. He and Farr just need to play with more consistency.

There is no question it was a fantastic week in San Antonio. It was great to see these kids all at once, up close and playing against each other for six days. But something else stood out as well. That's the relationships made with the kids themselves. I have covered recruiting since 1992 and I have never seen more personality in a young man than Martellus Bennett. Just about every night around 10 p.m. Bennett made his way down to our media center and it turned into the Martellus Bennett comedy hour. This kid is a riot and he gave us some much needed comic relief. Special thanks for our "chicken" man Roy Miller. One night, it was late and none of us had any dinner. So here comes Miller with a box of drumsticks (well over 100) that he personally delivered to the team. Thanks for dinner Roy. We jokingly said that he will be our first six-star recruit ever. And then there was Melvin Alaeze, pleading his case to us one evening that he was a defensive end not a defensive tackle.

This past week in San Antonio was something that I will never forget. And I think I can speak for the entire that we loved every minute of it and can't wait until next year. See you in San Antonio.

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