National Outlook

Seminole High School in Sanford, Fla. has three players that carry a four-star rating or better according to Scout.com. They teamed up once again this weekend at the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando, Fla. Next year, only two of of three will continue as teammates.

6-foot-3, 210-pound athlete Ray Ray Armstrong and 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end Dyron Dye selected Miami during this past Sunday's Under Armour game. Armstrong played safety at Seminole, though he may grow into a linebacker. Scout.com ranks him as the nation's No. 9 strong side linebacker prospect. Armstrong also played some quarterback for Seminole and led them to the 6A Florida state title this fall. He had plenty of help from Dye, who had 65 tackles and 3.5 sacks for the Fighting 'Noles. His stats dropped in 2008 as opposing teams game planned away from him. In 2007, Dye had 13 sacks along with 65 tackles. He selected Miami over Florida State and LSU while Armstrong also considered LSU, Florida State, and Georgia.

While Armstrong and Dye chose Miami, the third Seminole star looked in a different direction: Gainesville. Five-star wide receiver Andre Debose announced at the Under Armour game that he will attend Florida in 2009. The 5-foot-11, 176-pounder has blazing speed and will have a chance to contribute immediately at Florida, especially if Percy Harvin enters the NFL draft. The Gators will probably use Debose like they currently use Harvin, getting his hands on the ball as often as possible. Florida had been considered his leader for quite some time, but he also looked at LSU, Florida State, and Georgia.

Florida landed more than just Debose this past weekend. They also picked up commitments from two players that were competing in the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio. Xavier Nixon is Scout.com's top ranked offensive tackle for the class of 2009 and is their No. 6 overall prospect. The Fayetteville, N.C. product is a tremendous athlete and once he adds weight to his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame, he will have all the ingredients necessary to be a top-flight collegiate left tackle. It was very appropriate that Nixon made his decision known at the U.S. Army game. For much of the past year, Nixon's dad has been serving the Army in Afghanistan. Xavier decided not to make his commitment until his father had returned home. He picked the Gators over LSU and Miami.

Also at the Army game, Wellington, Fla. native Jon Bostic gave his pledge to Florida. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Bostic is ranked as Scout.com's No. 3 weak side linebacker prospect and comes in at No. 60 on their Top 100 list. He is a great athlete that did everything this year for Palm Beach Central High School. He ran for more than 500 yards and had nine touchdowns. On defense, he had 55 tackles and four forced fumbles. Bostic has already graduated from high school and will enroll at Florida in a couple of weeks. He went with Florida over Florida State, Clemson, and LSU.

Two five-star defensive tackles recently made their decision known and both in unique ways. William Campbell from Cass Tech in Detroit committed to Michigan during the summer of 2007, but then opened his recruiting back up and announced in December that he was no longer considering the Wolverines. After arriving in San Antonio for the Army game, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Campbell gave indications that he was going to choose LSU, but when it was time to make his decision known, it was Michigan once again. In 2008, he had nine sacks to go along with 55 tackles, 22 of which resulted in lost yardage. He also looked at Miami.

Jamarkus McFarland of Lufkin, Texas gave the Oklahoma Sooners a great present when he committed to them at one minute after midnight on Christmas day. The 6-foot-3, 285-pounder gave a much publicized chronicle of his recruiting experiences to the New York Times, citing benefits that were promised if he chose a particular school. McFarland is currently better in run support than he is at pressuring the quarterback, which is not surprising for a defensive tackle of his size. He is the 18th best player in the country and the fifth best defensive tackle, according to Scout.com. Texas was his second choice.

Prior to Christmas, Oklahoma got a commitment from the nation's top cornerback prospect, Gabe Lynn from Jenks, Okla. At 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, Lynn is the perfect size for a corner. He excels in coverage and is a sure tackler, making him the complete package. As a senior, he had 42 tackles and was rarely challenged by opposing passers. He had a good week of practice last week at the Army game. He picked Oklahoma over Oklahoma State and North Carolina. Scout.com's top safety prospect also made his college decision known. Craig Loston of Houston committed to LSU during the Under Armour Skills Challenge last Friday. Loston was previously committed to Clemson, but in the end he decided to become a Tiger of a different color. As a sophomore, he had actually initially committed to Texas A&M before switching to Clemson. With signing day just a month away, his commitment to LSU would appear to be solid.

Running back Tavon Austin of Baltimore did not play in either all-star game this weekend, but he did announce his college destination, choosing West Virginia over North Carolina. At 5-foot-7, 170-pounds, Austin is a small scatback that creates plays with his speed and shiftiness. He was the catalyst that led Dunbar High School to three straight Maryland state titles. Scout.com gives him a five-star rating, ranks him as this year's No. 7 running back, and lists him as the No. 50 overall recruit.

West Virginia did get a commitment from an Army game participant when Michael Carter of Pompano Beach, Fla. selected the Mountaineers. Like Austin, Carter is small, standing 5-feet-10 and weighing just 165-pounds. His strength is in coverage and he must improve his physicality before fighting the Big East wars. In 2007, he shared the secondary at Blanche Ely High School with LSU recruit Patrick Johnson, Scout.com's No. 1 cornerback in the 2008 class. As teams threw away from Johnson, it allowed Carter to intercept seven passes, break up 18 passes, and score four defensive touchdowns. He chose the Mountaineers over Florida and Minnesota.

The Mountaineers also received a commitment from South Fort Myers, Fla. wide receiver Brodrick Jenkins. He visited Pittsburgh and Wisconsin before deciding on West Virginia.

Clemson and Georgia both took in a pair of four-star commitments. Clemson added wide receiver Bryce McNeal from Minneapolis and defensive end Leon Mackey, a Newark, Del. native that is currently prepping at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. McNeal picked the Tigers over Oregon, Minnesota, and Colorado while Mackey turned down offers from North Carolina, Arkansas, and Virginia Tech. Georgia grabbed Atlanta cornerback Branden Smith and Avon, Ind. linebacker Montez Robinson. Smith looked closely at Alabama, Florida, and Florida State before selecting the Bulldogs. Robinson had committed to Auburn, but re-opened his recruitment after the dismissal of Tiger coach Tommy Tuberville.

A few other highly regarded prospects put an end to their recruitment. Four-star running back Christine Michael, a Army game participant, committed to Texas A&M just before the end of 2008. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder from Beaumont, Texas had offers from LSU and Nebraska. Offensive tackle Brennan Williams from West Roxbury, Mass. picked North Carolina over Boston College and Wake Forest during the Army game. At the Under Armour game, Scout.com's No. 3 offensive guard, John Martinez from Salt Lake City, picked USC over LSU and UCLA. On New Year's Day, Colorado took in former Oregon commitment Diante Jackson, a 4-star wide receiver from Walnut Creek, Calif.

Lastly, the naton's top center prospect, Mark Brazinski from Somerville, N.J. decided to change coasts. After committing to nearby Rutgers during the summer, Brazinski committed to California at the Under Armour game.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories