Riva on the River: In Texas for Army Bowl

FOS crack recruiting reporter Rob Riva offers analysis and commentary from San Antonio, site of the U.S. Army All-American game. In his first installment, he sizes up the Penn State commits and targets, gives an update on what the national recruiting experts had to say and recaps a chance meeting with a Big Ten coach.

SAN ANTONIO — Unfortunately, I have yet to purchase a "Don't Mess With Texas" T-shirt, mainly because my day has been rushed after a 45-minute debacle at the Jacksonville airport security check point. Apparently, all of the Virginia Tech and Louisville fans decided to leave on the same day at the same time, so that despite arriving at the airport an hour early, I still barely made my flight to Houston.

From Houston, I jumped on another plane to San Antonio. Upon arriving in San Antonio, I traveled to the Alamo Bowl where a press conference for the U.S. Army All American Bowl was held. There I had the chance to speak with several Penn State recruits, including A.J. Wallace, Sam Young (yes, he's taking an official visit) and Maurice Evans, among others. Look for updates on each of those players shortly.

Now, here is the first installment of my news and commentary from the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Tex.

Newberg and Lemming's Take

At the end of the afternoon's press conference, Scout.com national recruiting writer Jamie Newberg highlighted the talent on the East team. He stated that the East's biggest strength is on the offensive line, specifically naming Sam Young and Andre Smith. According to Newberg, the key matchup in the game will be in the trenches between the West's defensive front four and the East's offensive line.

National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming previewed the West team, which began with the statement that the game will feature “the most talented group in the last five years.” He agreed with all of Newberg's analysis, and concluded his preview of the West team with the prediction that “this may be the first 35-34 game” in the bowl's history.

The “Looks” Test - Penn State Edition

Without a doubt, the most imposing and impressive player on either team is five-star Florida offensive lineman Sam Young. He is every bit 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, and has a frame to add even more weight. Just think Robert Gallery, minus 30-40 pounds.

Penn State defensive end commitment Jared Odrick might be the second-most imposing and impressive player on either team, and as mentioned by other observers is a legitimate 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, though he is lean and cut for a man that size.

As for Maurice Evans, he is roughly the same height as current Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali, but is built a little thicker up top, and has bigger, more chiseled arms. He is considered “undersized” for a defensive end but so was Hali. Evans was one of the friendliest recruits at the press conference.

Questions have been posed about the size of A.J. Wallace. It is amazing how much he reminds me of current Penn State freshman Justin King in so many respects. Physically, Wallace is a little taller, maybe an inch or two, than King. He has an identical build as King, lean and chiseled.

Besides the physical attributes, Wallace is very quiet, much like King. If King could play as a freshman from a physical standpoint, so can Wallace.

Chris Bell, out for the day with a hip flexor, was decked out in full warm-up gear. He is a legit 6-2 or taller.

The “Looks” Test - Everyone Else

The most impressive physique from all of the wide receivers is Pittsburgh commitment Dorin Dickerson. He has very big arms and is thick. It is clear why Penn State recruited him as a linebacker.

Another Pittsburgh commitment, Nate Byham, is chiseled but lean. Currently, he has the look of a big wide receiver, and will need to put on some size before stepping in at tight end.

Chris Wells is a big, big running back. Think a slightly leaner version of Ricky Williams, pre-hydoponic days.

Tim Tebow is also jacked and is twice as thick as the West's top quarterback, Mitch Mustaine.

Let's Do Lunch (Page 6 Edition)

After the press conference, the venue provided lunch for the media and players. It was interesting to see who sat with who.

Odrick sat down at a table with A.J. Wallace, after stopping by a table where Maurice Evans was chowing down with Chris Bell and Myron Rolle. Pennsylvania recruits Nate Byham and Zach Fraser also sat together for lunch.

Randy Walker Sighting

Northwestern football coach Randy Walker, decked out in his Wildcats polo shirt, was on the same flight from Houston to San Antonio as I was. While waiting to board, I recognized him and almost called him Gary Barnett, but ultimately introduced myself and referred to him by his proper name. I asked what his business was in San Antonio, to which he replied that he was waiting for a connecting flight to State College where he planned to eat dinner with Tim Curley at the Tavern. For some reason, I do not believe him.

On Deck

Tomorrow, I will attend the East's practice from 9 a.m. until noon. At five in the evening, I have put in interview requests for Jared Odrick, Maurice Evans, Chris Bell, A.J. Wallace and Sam Young. Did I mention Sam Young was big?


Monthly or three-month FightOnState.com subscriber? Upgrade now to SAVE MONEY and get more stuff, including our 2006 Penn State Recruiting Guide.

Visit THIS LINK for details.

Fight On State Top Stories