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January 3, 2009
UA All-American Game position battles
ORLANDO, FLA. - On Sunday night, 80 of the nation's best prospects will display their talents at the Citrus Bowl in the Under Armour All-American Game. With well balanced rosters, the two teams will likely have some great position battles throughout the game. Rivals.com takes a look at some position battles within the game that will be intriguing to watch.
Black Team Quarterbacks vs. White Team Quarterbacks: Both teams possess good talent under center, but the best of the bunch is White Team quarterback Matt Barkley. The five-star USC commitment has had a strong week of practice and shown why he is considered the best pro-style quarterback in the country. He is joined by Richard Brehaut and Moses Alipate. They will be squaring off with the Black Team trio of Garrett Gilbert, Josh Nunes, and Russell Shepard. Gilbert had the best week of practice but Shepard possesses great athleticism which makes him a dual threat that could be a difference maker in the game.
Black Team Running Backs vs. White Team Linebackers: The Black Team's backfield consists of Jarvis Giles, Chris Thompson, and Jaamal Berry. Thompson is a bit hampered by a left ankle injury. Berry and Giles will battle for the starting role. They will be matched up with a foursome of great run-stoppers on the White Team of Manti Te'o, Dexter Moody, Tom Wort, and Ronnell Lewis. The combination of Te'o and Wort should be very strong against the run, especially after practicing all week against teammate Trent Richardson.
Black Team Linebackers vs. White Team Running Backs: The Black Team possesses a smaller set of linebackers - Eric Fields, Frankie Telfort, Jelani Jenkins, and Petey Smith - compared to its Black Team counterparts. Jenkins is a versatile athlete who is very good on the attack while Telfort is a hybrid of sorts who is equally good against the pass and run. The White Team backfield consists of Washaun Ealey, Montrell Conner, and Trent Richardson. Richardson has been the standout of that group as he possesses a rare combination of size and speed. Richardson is able to run around or through defenders and should give the Black Team fits.
White Team Defensive Backs vs. Black Team Wide Receivers: The White Team has a couple of speedy ballhawks in Branden Smith and Stephon Gilmore as well as versatile defensive backs in Devonte Holloman and Craig Loston. They will need all of that talent against the Black Team wide receivers. The Black Team has a good combination of speed to stretch the field and receivers that aren't scared of going across the middle. Duron Carter had a great week of practices and shows an ability to run crisp routes and finish plays by making the catch. The trio of Andre Debose, Nu'keese Richardson, and Jheranie Boyd can use its speed to stretch the field.
White Team Wide Receivers vs. Black Team Defensive Backs: The White Team is playing second fiddle to the Black Team at the wide receiver position but it has some playmakers lining up as well. Alshon Jeffrey and Morrell Presley are both physical wide receivers with very good hands. Logan Heastie and Keenan Davis are versatile threats with good speed. Michael Campanaro, who was listed on the roster initially as a running back, has worked in the slot and shown an ability to consistently make plays. The Black Team defensive backs are up for the challenge though. Greg Reid had a great week of practice and has speed to close quickly on passes. Prince Kent has done well and is able to press or play off receivers. Darren Myles and Ray Ray Armstrong form a physical combination at safety. Both can cover a lot of ground.
Black Team Defensive Line vs. White Team Offensive Line: One of the best players throughout the week has been five-star defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel. McDaniel isn't by himself in the trenches for the Black Team as he is joined by Demonte McAllister and Dyron Dye, both of whom are capable of coming off the edge. Josh Downs and Abry Jones add more playmaking ability in the middle. They will square off against a big offensive line for the White Team led by Stanley Hasiak, Xavier Su'a Filo, and John Martinez. The White Team offensive line had struggles slowing down Craig Roh and Gary Brown in practice and the Black Team's defensive line is better than what the White Team offensive line has faced so far this week.
White Team Defensive Line vs. Black Team Offensive Line: The White Team is led in the middle by Gary Brown and Corey Adams and also has good speed on the edge thanks to ends Craig Roh and Sam Montgomery. They will need to come up big squaring off against the Black Team offensive line. That unit is led by Mason Walters and Jack Mewhort but it also has a nice collection of talent around those two. The Black Team has gone through three days of preparations against a very talented Black Team defensive line which should have helped prepare it for its opponent on Sunday.