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January 5, 2009
SAN ANTONIO - The nation's top players competed in Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl that was won by the East squad, 30-17.
Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst Barry Every scouted the action and offers up his awards from the week in San Antonio.
U.S. Army All-American Bowl Awards
Fastest Player: Patrick Hall
ATH, 6-1/181, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
Several players on the West squad had a chance to beat Hall in the 40-yard dash but failed. Randall Carroll has the fastest documented times of any 2009 U.S. Army All-American, but he did not beat Hall in a head-to-head matchup.
Honorable Mention: WR Randall Carroll, 5-11, 175, Los Angeles Cathedral
Strongest Player: D.J. Fluker
OT, 6-7/350, Foley (Ala.) High
This mammoth-sized offensive tackle has the overall power to sling any defensive lineman to the ground. Just ask Alex Okafor about the merry-go-round ride Fluker sent him on in practice.
Honorable Mention: DT William Campbell, 6-5/317, Detroit Cass Tech
Best Hands: Orson Charles
ATH, 6-3/230, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
Most muscle-bound receivers have a tendency to be a bit stiff and unnatural ball catchers. Not Charles. He was the most consistent receiver all week.
Honorable Mention: WR Patrick Patterson, 6-3/215, Macon (Miss.) Noxubee County
Best Arm: Tyrik Rollison
QB, 6-2/185, Sulphur Springs (Texas) High
He struggled early in the week grasping the new offense and with his timing with unfamiliar teammates. But by game time he was throwing strikes to all parts of the field. I can't wait to see how live his arm is in a few years when he has physically matured.
Honorable Mention: QB Aaron Murray, 6-0/198, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
Most Accurate: Tajh Boyd
QB, 6-1/208, Hampton (Va.) Phoebus
Boyd was another quarterback who struggled early in the week but became more consistent closer to game time. Once all eyes in America were upon this young star he was able to outshine his counterparts at the quarterback position by orchestrating three scoring drives.
Honorable Mention: Murray
Best after the catch: Jeremy Gallon
ATH, 5-8/165, Apopka (Fla.) High
Gallon was probably the smallest competitor, including the kickers. Gallon did his best impression all week of a water bug, gliding across the surface of the gridiron making catch after catch and finding his way to the end zone.
Honorable Mention: WR Rueben Randle, 6-3/195, Bastrop (La.) High
Best cover skills: Cliff Harris
CB, 6-0/165, Fresno (Calif.) Edison
Harris was perhaps the lightest participant this week, along with being the quickest and fiercest competitor. There wasn't a receiver on either squad he couldn't stay glued to; his change of direction and break on the ball were as sharp as a diamond cutter.
Honorable Mention: CB Michael Carter, 5-11/160, Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely
Best feet: Xavier Nixon
OT, 6-6/265, Fayetteville (N.C.) Jack Britt
His physical presence alone added superior athletic talent to the East squad. His lateral movement was impressive, even while he was staying engaged with the defender.
Honorable Mention: OG Chris Burnette, 6-2/300, LaGrange (Ga.) Troup
Best closing speed: Nico Johnson
LB, 6-3/226, Andalusia (Ala.) High
During the week I would have given this award to Dorian Bell, but watching Johnson track down and take precise tackling angles on some of the fastest backs in the country was impressive. More important, he demonstrated these skills on a national platform.
Honorable Mention: LB Dorian Bell, 6-0/226, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
Best surprise: Nick Kasa
DE, 6-7/245, Broomfield (Colo.) Legacy
I really only considered kids who I had not seen this year in person or on whole game films. Kasa really passes the eyeball test with his great height, long arms and tremendous frame. But good looks are not all Kasa is about. He was probably the most consistent pass rusher all week in practice using his quick get-offs and long arms to wreak chaos in the backfield.
Honorable Mention: DT Calvin Howell, 6-4/280, San Antonio Warren
Best rusher: Bryce Brown
RB, 6-0/215, Wichita (Kan.) Wichita East
Not enough can be said about Brown's overall skill set. He not only runs with authority, but he also has very good speed, excellent vision and cutback ability. He will only continue to get better as he fills out and eventually competes at around 225 to 230 pounds. He will wear defenses out from either chasing him, or him running them over.
Honorable Mention: RB Christine Michael, 5-11/202, Beaumont (Texas) West Brook
Best Tackler: Vontaze Burfict
LB, 6-2/244, Corona (Calif.) Centennial
The sheer force and impact that Burfict hits his opponents with makes them look like crash test dummies. He will hit you running full speed with the intentions of burying his face mask in a ball carrier's chest, leaving a permanent impression. Burfict is the true definition of a downhill player.
Honorable Mention: S Justin Turner, 6-2/186, Massillon (Ohio) Washington
Most Physical: Fluker
He may be the nicest and friendliest kid on either team off the field, but if you are his opponent on the gridiron expect a long day. He uses his huge hands to take control of your upper body and then drives his legs, forcing his opponent to submit to a humiliating fall to earth.
Honorable Mention: DT Sheldon Richardson, 6-4/292, St. Louis (Mo.) Gateway High
Stock rising: Willie Downs
WR, 6-2/192, Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby
Many Florida State fans want to know why he played defense for the East squad. Well, the receiver position had been filled and the U. S. Army player personnel director wanted the most versatile athlete he could get to play defense. Well that man was Willie Downs, who came in with a great attitude and was willing to do whatever it took to represent his hometown of Tallahassee. All week he displayed superior ball skills and tremendous overall athleticism.
Honorable Mention: Howell, Kasa
Stock dropping: Chris Bonds
DE, 6-4/265, Columbia (S.C.) Richland Northeast
Bonds has been injured for the better part of two years, and he just has not regained his playing form from his sophomore season. It will take a good year of practice without reoccurring injuries for him to get back into good playing shape.
Honorable Mention: OL Morgan Moses, 6-7/347, Richmond (Va.) Meadowbrook
Special teams star: Chris Boswell
K, 6-3/180, Keller (Texas) Fossil Ridge
He may only have one offer at this time from North Texas, but he proved he belonged by winning the field goal competition early in the week. Then in the game he was able to get the ball up in a hurry on his extra points and field goals. His first kickoff in the game was a knuckler probably brought about by limelight jitters, but after that he was able to get four second or more of hang time.
Honorable Mention: K C.J. Feagles, 5-11/180, Ridgewood (N.J.) High