UT-Bound Defenders Key 24-7 Thumping

SAN ANTONIO -- Sudden-impact defensive help is on the way for the Texas Longhorns if Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl is any indication. RCB Curtis Brown and DT Andre Jones, a couple of Five-Star standouts who start class at Texas on January 16, each had a direct hand in the West All-American's 24-7 win at the Alamodome.

It was Curtis Brown's 14-yard INT return of a Tyrod Taylor pass to the six that set-up the West's first TD midway through the first quarter in the annual showcase spotlighting the nation's top 80 prep stars.

"I knew (the WR) was going to cut to the outside," Brown told Inside Texas. "It was my ability to know the game. It was obvious to me that he (Taylor) was going to throw the ball to the outside. I just broke on it because I knew what was coming."

It set up RB Joe McKnight's two-yard scoring run, giving the West a 13-lead at the 8:55 mark of the first quarter. (Note: McKnight remains uncommitted but Five-Star O-lineman Tray Allen vowed Saturday to continue to recruit the New Orleans product to the Longhorn camp. McKnight is reportedly considering Texas, USC and LSU. Meanwhile, Hempstead WR Terrance Toliver privately said he has narrowed his choices to LSU and Florida.)

Brown started for the West, as did Texas-commit Blaine Irby at WLB. Brown is slightly undersized (6-0, 175) but gave evidence of his closing speed on the game's second snap. That's when he blew up a reverse on the opposite side of the field, resulting in a five-yard loss. The Gilmer-product was heavily recruited by all the usual suspects but primarily at WR. The two-way star made it clear Saturday that he wants only to play CB at Texas next season. In fact, he models his game after former Longhorn-great and current Chicago Bear Nathan Vasher.

"I'm graduating early so I can get in there and play," Brown said. "I'll be patient but, when the time comes, it comes."

Andre Jones is a 6-4, 305-pound man-child renown for his power and bull rush. The El Paso Andress-product helped snuff-out the East's first scoring threat. It came early in the fourth quarter after Noel Devine's 76-yard KO return put the East in prime real estate at the 13 yard-line. On third-and-goal, Jones produced a timely 5-yard sack to help keep the East out of the end zone. The East reached the Red Zone on its next possession with Florida-bound John Brantley behind center, but Jones broke-up a Brantley attempt on 2nd-and-15 from the 20. The East would eventually turn the ball over on downs.

"I want to make the same plays in college that I made in high school," Jones said. "I want to get so powerful that I make (opponents) look like high school kids out there."

The final score is no indication of the West's defensive dominance on a wet and chilly afternoon in south Texas. The East All-Americans mustered just 57 total yards on the day while its best passer, relatively speaking, was Louisville-bound Matt Simms (Chris' brother) who completed 4-of-7 for 30 yards. The West allowed just nine yards rushing on the afternoon and did not surrender a single first down during the first half. In fact, this one would have been a shutout if the East did not convert a late fumble (2:57 remaining) into a score. In fact, Brantley worked up more of sweat punting the ball than he did behind center.

The East would eventually cash-in, courtesy of a fumble recovery at the West's 31 with 2:57 remaining in the mismatch. Brown was credited with a 'pass defended' on the first-down attempt and then followed with an assist in holding TE Aaron Hernandez to just three-yards after the catch. Willy Korn's 28-yard TD toss to Notre Dame-bound Duval Kamara finally put the East on the board with 2:13 remaining in the ballgame.

Irby aided in the defensive masterpiece, but the 6-3, 235-pound California-product told Inside Texas he expects to play TE as a Longhorn.

"I just want to get out of California for some reason, and Texas is a great school," said Irby, who was recruited hard by Michigan and Miami. "I feel right at home at Texas. The football team is a big family."

Allen started the opening series in the offensive line-up alongside fellow Longhorn-commit Michael Huey. Allen operated at LT but is expected to be an interior lineman at Texas. (West coaches privately said Allen was the best lineman on the squad and they wanted him on the outside for pass protection.) Allen will graduate in early February and plans to move to Austin later that month. USC and LSU continued to court Allen, despite his verbal last summer.

"I had to tell LSU and USC that it was all good but I couldn't leave the great state of Texas," Allen said Saturday.

Five-Star QB John Chiles made cameo appearances at WR. He did not have a reception, although the Mansfield-product had two successive attempts come his way on the West's final series of the first half. Chiles made it abundantly clear this week that he has no interest in playing WR in college. He also has not backed-off from recruiting Four-Star DT Christian Scott, who will announce after his January 19 official visit to Austin. In fact, Chiles typically sat next to Scott on the bench when neither was in the game.

Earlier in the week, Chiles predicted a couple of national championships for Texas during the next four- or five-seasons. And Allen believes the nucleus of Texas' incoming class, widely considered the nation's best this year, was on display Saturday just 78 miles down the road from campus.

"We had six Longhorns in the game," he said. "Everybody just did their thing. Andre came up with a big sack. Mike and I held it down on the O-line. Curtis is a great DB. Blaine stepped in and did good. We're just so ready to get to Austin and play together."

And, presumably, so are Longhorn coaches and fans.

[Note: Inside Texas subscribers, stay tuned for wrap-up interviews with all six future Longhorns in the game. Also, IT correspondent Thayer Evans will answer your questions on the UT-bound players in the game, or anything else from U.S. Army Bowl week, on the IT Members only board.]

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