SAN ANTONIO - Four-star cornerback Jordan Fuller arrived for U.S. Army All-American Bowl week intent on proving himself.
Fuller has done that at every stop, during the high school season, elite camps over the summer and so on. But standing out on the practice fields here is another level with top prospects everywhere in pads taking contact.
Four-star wide receiver Austin Mack, an Ohio State commitment, bested Fuller a time or two on the first day. It was no easy task.
Mack hasn't seen many defensive backs like Fuller, especially during the high school season back in Indiana. Getting matched up together was a reminder for each of what they will face at the next level.
“He’s probably the best DB we’ve got out here on the East squad,” Mack said. “He’s very patient. He’s long, physical. I always have to think of something new every time I go against him. That’s a great matchup. He’s gonna make me better every time against I go against him.”
Fuller has made progress each day.
Quarterbacks didn’t often throw his direction on Thursday and when they did there wasn’t much success. Fuller ran with four-star receiver Binjimen Victor, staying close enough to force an incompletion. He did the same with DeKaylin Metcalf (Ole Miss), resulting in an overthrow.
Mack matched up with Fuller, a native of Old Tappan, N.J., during red zone work. He didn’t make any catches.
Fuller, when asked how he felt about the result of those reps, offered a perfect summation.
“They didn’t catch the ball,” Fuller managed, with a wry smile.
East team defensive backs coach Jermaine Smith has been impressed. Smith, the head coach at Cedar Grove High School in Georgia, had a few questions about Fuller before practice started.
They’ve been answered.
“When I first saw his size I thought he might be a little tight in the hips,” Smith said. “Or I didn’t know how athletic he is. But he’s everything and more than I thought. Great hips. Great kid though. Really wants to learn and is attentive. He asks the right questions. You can tell he’s really trying to do his best. He’s not here just to be here. He wants to win and wants to get better.”
Fuller intends to apply the lessons learned during Army Bowl week at a college destination that’s yet to be determined.
Notre Dame hosted the 6-foot-1, 197-pound prospect on an official visit last month. Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State are in line to do so between now and National Signing Day. Smith considers whatever program lands Fuller’s signature fortunate.
He cited the rep against Metcalf as a reason why — Fuller couldn’t have played it better. Rather than turn his head to play the ball, Fuller played the man. In other words, Fuller didn’t rely on his athleticism, he relied on his technique.
“When we play our man technique and you have the man turned, you face the man,” Smith said. “You play the ball late but you play through his hands though. The majority of the time I tell our guys you have to be in the A1 position, better than perfect, in order to look back for the ball. If not, you face the man and when he plays the ball you play through his hands. You’ve got to be in AI position, then you can turn inside.”
Winning in those type of situations has given Fuller a boost of confidence. He hopes to use that in the Alamodome on Saturday during the main event.
“I’ve learned that I can compete with the best really,” he said. “You come out to these things not really knowing where you’re at. I’m happy with my position but I can definitely get better.”