There was more to the player's performance in the U.S. Army All-American than game day. The players participated in practices throughout the week and we watched them closely because either Notre Dame was still recruiting them or the player still listed the South Bend as a possible destination.
Sam Young – Offensive tackle, East squad: If I've ever seen a player ready to play today, it is Sam Young (6-8, 300-pounds). When you first set eyes on him, he looks like an upper level college player. Young has a great frame. He has broad shoulders and long arms. He could add some weight, but I'm not certain that he needs to add much. When he does put on pounds in college, it will certainly be pure muscle. He towers over most players.
Young has outstanding technique. He's quick to set up and get into good blocking position. Good bend at the knees and he moves his feet while working with the defender. He works as well to his outside as he does to the inside and he doesn't over commit his position. Even against the best high school defenders it doesn't look like he exerts much effort and he appeared very much in control.
Young is a physical player and he'll put the defender on his back if they challenge him. Forget about the bull rush, he simply digs in and stones the defender. He was beaten a couple times during practice, but it was rare. For his size, he has outstanding mobility.
On top of being a tremendous football player, Young is intelligent, well spoken, and very personable. Young is has narrowed his choices down to Notre Dame, Penn State, USC and Michigan. He will likely decide close to signing day. Young should be a top 10 national recruit and he is a difference maker.
Gerald McCoy – Defensive tackle, West squad: Like Young on the offensive line, you don't find many players that appear ready to play as freshman along the defensive line, but McCoy looks like that type of player. At 6-4, 300 pounds, McCoy simply dominates offensive linemen.
While McCoy has great size, it's his ability to get off the ball quickly that differentiates him from your average player. Gerald has a very quick first step that allows him to get leverage on the offensive lineman. He also has the ability to change direction quickly and he moves very well laterally. During the one-on-one pass blocking drills he was in the backfield with nary a paw laid upon his jersey and the look on the offensive lineman face asked, "How did he do that?" The players he was going against in practice were some of the best offensive linemen in the country, and he did the same to the East offensive linemen during the bowl game.
As a high school senior McCoy has very good strength and he uses his leverage very well to power past the offensive lineman. He has several moves that he uses to combat the offensive lineman, and he can go inside or outside. If the offensive lineman didn't use perfect technique McCoy would eat him up. If an offensive lineman was able to contain Gerald, they knew they had done a very good job.
McCoy is a great character and he likes to keep things lively. The LSU coaches were at one practice to watch their committed player Al Woods. McCoy was standing off to the side and yelled out to an unsuspecting Woods, "Al, have you told the LSU that you de-committed and you're going to Texas?" The LSU coaches jerked their heads around as if, out of the corner of their eye, they spotted a hundred dollar bill sitting on the ground.
McCoy to me he is deciding between Notre Dame, USC, Oklahoma, LSU, Miami and Virginia Tech. Later reports have said he's down to Oklahoma, LSU and USC. Gerald said that he could have a decision the week after the bowl game, but that he could also wait until signing day. McCoy should be a top 10 national recruit and he is a difference maker.
Terrence Austin – Wide receiver, West squad: Austin was very impressive throughout practice and he displayed the skills that have made him Scout.com's No. 9-rated wide receiver prospect. He runs crisp routes, he has exceptional quickness in and out of his cuts, and if the ball is in the area code, he'll make the catch. Once Austin gets the ball in his hands, he can stop on a dime and get back up to speed quickly. Throw out the forty times with him because he plays much faster. I wouldn't classify him as a water bug type runner, but he has certainly can frustrate a defense that is trying to get their hands on him.
Austin is pretty lean at 5-11, 175 pounds, but he has no fear going over the middle or challenging a tackler. Austin is a football player and I like the way he competes. He has good football sense and he's tough despite his slight build. The only question I have is whether he has the ability to put on additional weight.
Austin picked UCLA during the bowl game, and they got a good one. Terrence is a great kid and he'll do very well in a Bruin uniform.
Mitch Mustain – Quarterback, West squad: Forget Mustain's performance in the bowl game, the kid can play. He's actually a little bigger than I expected and he seemed thicker than the 200 pounds he was listed on the game roster. Mustain isn't overly vocal, but he does talk to teammates throughout practice and the game if there was a miscommunication. There is a calm confidence about him. He's a leader and I can see why he was highly successful in high school.
Mustain has a very good arm. He appeared to make all the throws. He throws the deep ball very well, and he puts plenty of air under the ball. He has the arm strength to get the ball into tight spots, and he has the confidence to throw it there as well. He has good touch when he needs to something off the ball. The thing that probably impressed me the most during the practice sessions was his accuracy. On probably the best play of the week he hit a well-covered receiver at the front pylon. The 30-yard pass was on the money and dropped just out of the reach of the defender into the receiver's hands.
It's tough knowing exactly what the quarterback's reads are without knowing the exact play, but Mustain appeared to make good decisions with the ball. In practice, all three West quarterbacks had to make decisions on the run because of the dominating West defensive line, and he appeared to good decisions. During one scrimmage he went 10-12. Mustain is also very mobile.
Mustain has yet to decide on his college destination. His list includes Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, and Notre Dame. The Irish have two quarterback commitments with Demetrius Jones and Zach Frazer, so I'm not sure where Mustain fits in.
Butch Lewis – Defensive tackle, West squad: He will play defensive tackle in college, but he played defensive end throughout his stay in San Antonio. Going into the week I wasn't sure what to expect from Lewis, but I certainly came away impressed. I expected that he would have good size (6-5, 280-pounds), but I was surprised by his power. It didn't matter who lined up across from him at left tackle, he simply whisked them away during drills. Lewis used several moves going inside, outside or through the offensive lineman on a bull rush -- and he was successful no matter what he did.
I would say that he was quite at the level of his teammates, Gerald McCoy and Al Woods, but he certainly wasn't far behind. Lewis' power allowed him to get under the tackle on the edge and get him off balance. At that point Butch would push the offensive lineman away and get into the backfield.
Lewis appeared to be just as disruptive against the run. He seemed to use his hands well to shed the blocker and then get up field. Rarely did it appear that he stayed blocked from long. Lewis picked USC during the All-American bowl, so Irish fans will get a chance to see him soon enough. He's a good one that the Irish could have used along the defensive line.