U.S. Army Bowl: A Glimpse At Future Longhorns

As many as seven future Longhorns played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Saturday in San Antonio. And while West QB Ryan Perrilloux and East WR Fred Rouse provided several of the game's offensive highlights, a defender who announced on the West sideline his intention of becoming a Horn also made statement after statement on the field.

Killeen Shoemaker DT Roy Miller turned in a dominating performance in the defensive middle that came as a surprise only to those who didn't catch his practice week at Alamo Heights Stadium. The East managed just 14 yards on 24 carries against the West and its space-eating middle rotation of Miller, DeMarcus Granger and Jerrell Powe. And Miller terrorized the East quarterbacks, who operated behind an East line considered by most analysts to be a superior line to the one Miller often beat during the West's practice sessions. The 6-2, 300-pound Miller several times got the best of 6-6, 290-pound Iowa commit Dan Doering, the No. 6-rated OL in the country. On one first half play Miller blew past Doering to sack East QB Jake Christensen. Then, early in the second half, Miller pushed Doering deep into the pocket and into East QB Jonathan Crompton, allowing fellow West DT Granger to make first contact as Granger, Miller and DE Raymond Henderson combined for the sack.

Miller, though, best demonstrated his athleticism and quickness on several other plays throughout the game. Rushing up the middle, the future Horn came close to blocking two East punts! (Yeah, the first resulted in a roughing the kicker penalty, but still, the simple fact that he was in position to possibly block it says volumes about his burst off the snap and quickness into the backfield.) Miller also tracked down an East fumble off a bad snap that ended up almost 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. As the NBC camera followed the former OU commit on the sideline after his fumble recovery, Miller flashed a "Hook'em" and then spoke the words for added effect. He also showed sideline-to-sideline ability trailing another play towards the boundary to combine on a tackle with future Forty Acres D-line mate Aaron Lewis.

Lewis earned the praise of the West coaches during the week for his motor (a trait that he and Miller obviously share) and he pressured the East QBs several times on the day. From his right DE spot, Lewis caught up with a scrambling Christensen at the left sideline but he drew a facemask penalty as he flung the QB to the ground. Later, he and Granger's pressure forced Christensen into a bad toss that Nebraska LB commit Phillip Dillard picked off.

On the other side of the ball, Perrilloux's passing numbers (or playing time) didn't quite match those of West Coast golden boy Mark Sanchez (or coach's son Jim Barnes), but the Louisiana signal caller showed why many believe he has the most upside of any high school senior QB in the country. He completed six of his nine pass attempts for 73 yards, hauled in a 45-yard catch-and-run TD pass from game MVP DeSean Jackson, demonstrated some elusiveness in the pocket (although he finished with minus-7 yards rushing on three carries) as well as the ability to throw on the run.

Perrilloux's first attempt of the day was on the money 42 yards downfield to the outside shoulder of Wichita Falls wideout David Nelson near the right sideline, thwarted only by DB Michael Ray Garvin's hold of Nelson. After completing a short pass in the flat to DeSean Jackson, Perrilloux sensed the pressure from the East pass rush and stepped up, moved left and then spun back to the right before being caught for a six yard loss. It was something we would see all day from Perrilloux; feeling the heat, and buying himself time by either stepping up in or breaking out of the pocket.

But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Perrilloux's arsenal was his ability to throw strongly and accurately on the run, which he quickly showed. The Texas pledge, working out of the shotgun, took the snap and rolled to the right hashmark at the six, delivering a bullet that DeSean Jackson caught near the right sideline at the 25. Perrilloux again hooked up with Jackson late in the first half, taking a deep drop out of the 'gun and hitting the Cali wideout for 41 yards to set up arguably his best play of the day. Scrimmaging from the 13, Perrilloux took the snap, gave a quick pump fake, then rolled right till he found Fort Smith, Ark. WR Slick Shelley. Perrilloux threw back across his body from the 20 and hit Shelley crossing at the goalline for the TD.

In the second half, Perrilloux, Shelley and Jackson combined for the No. 2 highlight play of the day (No. 1 was Jackson's body flip at the end of a 68-yard catch-and-run from Barnes that came up just short of the end zone and resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty). Perrilloux took the snap from under center near midfield, pitched the ball the Shelley, coming across from his wide receiver spot, who then pitched the ball to Jackson coming opposite from his wide receiver spot as the QB raced downfield. Jackson heaved the ball towards Perrilloux, who pulled it down near the 20 just past the outstretched arms of East LB Ricardo McCoy and then turned and raced to the end zone for the 45-yard TD. After the flea-flicker, Perrilloux didn't have much luck connecting with his receivers (he did hit Martellus Bennett for his only catch of a very quiet day, a five-yard completion in the right flat) but he continued to impress with both his pocket presence and his on-the-move passing. Once, he avoided two rushers and threw a nice downfield touch pass for Jackson but the wideout came down just out of bounds. Then, on his last effort of the day, Perrilloux rolled right and seemingly effortlessly threw the ball 50 yards for Nelson at the goalline where Garvin knocked it away.

Unlike the other potential future Horns, all of whom suited up for the victorious West, Rouse had the misfortune of playing for an East squad that literally never got anything going offensively in the 35-3 loss. But if you had to give an MVP award to someone on that squad, it would be Rouse, who caught five passes for 68 yards, accounting for almost all of the East's total offensive output of 93 yards (79 of which came through the air). Rouse suffered a foot injury early in week and missed a couple of days of practice and may not have been 100 percent Saturday, but his pre- and post-catch skills were on display in the Alamodome. [And as reported in the San Antonio Express-News, after the game, a reporter asked Rouse if he still considered UT his top school. After Rouse answered yes, Perrilloux leaned in and said, "Texas is still our No. 1 school." Before the game, Perrilloux told the national TV audience, "I committed to Texas but I'm still kinda deciding and I have four more visits to take. I definitely love Texas as a school, as a program. I love the coaches, the players but I just want to make sure I'm not missing out on anything, that's why I want to take my other visits." IT subscribers click for more on Perrilloux and Rouse.]

The glut of running backs on the West (and the emphasis on the pass) kept Jerrell Wilkerson and Jamaal Charles from getting many touches. In the official stats, Wilkerson finished as the West's second-leading rusher, totaling three carries for 27 yards despite lining up in the slot rather than in the backfield most of the game, while Charles's official line came in at three totes for 12 yards. Wilkerson saw action on both kick and punt return units, but got little chance to shine. He was swamped just after he fielded his first punt return attempt near midfield and he and DeSean Jackson collided while trying to field the East's next punt, leading to a fumble. In the second half, Wilkerson and Charles shared the deep punt duties but East punter Zoltan Mesko hit a short one that was downed in front of the two future Longhorns.

Wilkerson's most note-worthy play of the day came on a play where he didn't touch the ball. In the second half, the 5-8, 175-pound San Antonio prospect flowed from his wideout spot to seal a gap for RB Marlon Lucky, standing up pursuing 6-3, 225-pound East LB Brian Cushing and springing Lucky for a nice gain. (Wilkerson also gets points for throwing a "Hook'em" sign to the camera while Texas Tech commit Todd Walker celebrated his first half TD reception with the Red Raiders' "Guns-up" sign.)

Charles turned in a nice run of his own in the fourth quarter, bouncing outside on an up-the-middle run that appeared to be stuffed. Charles told Inside Texas last week that his best attribute is his vision and he showed it on that play. The Port Arthur RB needs a bit of work on his pass catching, though. Late in the game, Charles slipped out of the backfield on a wheel route and ran uncovered into the end zone, but he couldn't corral the perfect pass from Barnes. (He did catch one pass earlier in the game for a one-yard loss.) The West practiced the play multiple times over the week, and Charles seldom hauled in the throw. (In the limited action for each back, Lacey, Wash.'s Jonathan Stewart appeared to be the most explosive running back on the West squad.)

Overall, the future Horns acquitted themselves nicely vs. very talented competition. But none more so than Roy Miller. He's the MVP of the Longhorn contingent, followed closely by Ryan Perrilloux. I'd stack Miller, Perrilloux and Rouse up with anyone at their positions in the country based on what I saw last week in San Antonio. And Bennett is as impressive physically as anyone, but the production both on the practice field and in the game was lacking, so he doesn't earn the high marks of the other three. Although not at the top nationally at their positions based on a week in San Antonio, Lewis, Wilkerson and Charles are also talented prospects that have an opportunity to contribute once in Austin. Bottom line: UT's U.S. Army All-American commits/prospects are an impressive bunch.

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