Fletch Reports from San Antonio

Saturday is the big day for Alex Fletcher, when he starts as the center for the East team at the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio, TX. But his goals the week of practices leading up to that final game have been to improve himself, learn from his teammates, and size up the supposed nation's best. Read on for his updates from Texas, including some of the players who he believes truly deserve the hype.

While tonight most of us have gotten fat on finger food and a little sloppy with the champagne, high school All-American center Alex Fletcher is in his San Antonio hotel room with his family, and fast asleep before the clock struck midnight in any U.S. time zone. This has been a week of hard work for the New Yorker, who has shied away from some of the hoopla surrounding Saturday's Army All-American Game. For example, four of the beefier members from the East and West squad squared off in an eating contest earlier this week, seeing who could eat the most McRib sandwiches at a local McDonalds.

"I'm no fool," a weary Fletcher explains. "I'm not into those kinds of contests. I don't need to eat 12 McRibs one night and then be sick the next day for practices. This week is serious business, and I'm here to play football."

His focus, hard work and talent have paid off, with teammates and coaches alike giving universal kudos to Fletcher. He quickly won the starting center job for his East team, beating out highly rated Drew Miller (Sarasota, FL) - who has offers from Florida, Florida State, Miami, Georgia and more. Unless something changes in the next 24 hours, the starting OL for the East will be:

LT: John Thompson (Sumter, SC)
LG: Roland Martin (Chicago, IL)
C: Alex Fletcher (Old Brookville, NY)
RG: Drew Miller (Sarasota, FL)
RT: Leon Hart (Columbia, SC)

Fletcher is roommates with Hart ("He's mad cool.") and has forged close bonds with the entire line. He says that he has been particularly impressed with the play of Martin and Miller, which is "a dream interior line to play with."

Two other offensive linemen will play reserve roles and rotate off the bench: OG Kyle Mitchum (Erie, PA) and OT Jeremy Ciulla (Kennesaw, GA).

While the chemistry and talent level of that line is enjoyable to the future Stanford center, perhaps even more germane is the set of defensive tackles whom Fletcher has practiced against on his East squad. He gives huge props to Aaron Jones (Orlando, FL), who though ranked #6 in the nation by TheInsiders at the defensive tackle position is the best Fletcher has ever faced. The reputed #1 DT in the land, Demario Pressley (Greensboro, NC), is also on the team and has had some very physical battles with the New Yorker.

"No doubt about it - Demario is strong as hell," Fletcher comments.

While the OL/DL battles will be watched closely on Saturday when these beasts are turned loose on their West counterparts, Fletcher has his sights set on linebackers. The 6'4" center takes pride in his pancakes on the second level, and he has heavy praise for those LBs on his team: Chris Patterson (Chicago, IL), James Bryant (Reading, PA) and Willie Williams (Miami, FL).

"Those guys are freaks," Fletcher exclaims. "I have to think our linebackers are the strength of our defense - maybe our whole team."

He then adds with a laugh, "But I've been pancaking those guys on a lot of plays. The West linebackers better watch out."

Two more skill athletes have tremendously impressed Fletcher as well. He runs out of superlatives when talking about quarterback Xavier Lee (Daytona Beach, FL) - "He's just so fast. It's unbelievable." And he loves cornerback Tony Carter (Jacksonville, FL), who like his Sunshine State teammate possesses blazing speed.

On the recruiting front here are a few notes of interest to Stanford fans:

  • Fletcher has talked with Carter about his Jacksonville Mandarin defensive back teammate C.J. Hirschman, a longstanding Cardinal recruit of note. "Tony says C.J. is a baller and definitely a Division I kid. He'd love to see him at Stanford," Fletcher reports.
  • Over on the West squad, quarterback Liam O'Hagan (Minneapolis, MN) is playing linebacker and will be reunited with Fletcher in some on-field battles. Though the two will lock helmets Saturday, they have been friends since they spent time together on and off the field last summer at the Stanford overnight football camp. O'Hagan has offers from Boston College, Colorado, Minnesota, Vanderbilt and more, but watch out for the Cardinal. The QB intends to take a visit to The Farm in January and there is a strong possibility he will come as a freshman next fall. That might initially be in a walk-on capacity, which could convert to a scholarship after a year. Liam's older brother David O'Hagan is currently a senior pitcher on Stanford's elite baseball team.
  • Also on the West squad is highly rated and desired defensive tackle Darryl Richard (Destrehan, LA). The East team practices together while the West team has their own workouts, which does not allow for too frequent of interactions between the two. But Fletcher has been talking with Richard and believes the Louisiana standout may not visit Stanford in January. He says that the DT recruit is likely to choose between Colorado and Miami, based on what Richard is saying in San Antonio.
  • Elite running back recruit Darius Walker (Buford, GA) almost made the trip to the land of the Alamo this week to join the East team, but that did not pan out. That was a disappointment for Fletcher and Stanford fans, as the Cardinal commit hoped to have the close time together in practices and off-field events to bond with the top Stanford RB target.
  • Tomorrow, many of the top underclassmen in the country will converge on San Antonio to kick off the U.S. Army National Combine. Look for Ekom Udofia (Scottsdale, AZ) and Ryan Reynolds (Las Vegas, NV) among other top flight targets to get tested, probed and worked.

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