SAN ANTONIO -- The prestige of the U.S. Army Junior Combine is evidenced by the depth and talent that makes its way to Texas every year to compete.
The 2013 edition of the event took place on Jan. 4 and featured some of the country's top 2014 talent, while also giving us a preview of some of the nation's rising stars in the classes of 2015 and 2016.
The overall Combine MVP, Greenville (N.C.) Rose defensive end Kentavious Street, led all performers on the day, but was closely pursued by the Combine Defense MVP, Ponte Vedra, Fla., linebacker Dillon Bates. Both earned invitations to play in the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl with their MVP performances.
Street and Bates lead off strong defensive line and linebacker groups, respectively, while a number of sophomores make an appearance among the best in the defensive backs group.
Here is the Rivals.com All-Defense Team from the 2013 U.S. Army Junior Combine:
Rivals.com U.S. Army National All-Combine Team: Defense
Street took home Combine MVP honors after being unstoppable in one-on-one competition and putting up ridiculous testing numbers that included a 35.5-inch vertical and a 4.8 range 40-yard dash. Smith almost looked to be a younger version of Street with a similar build and strengths. His technique is still raw, but that should be expected out of a freshman. Clark and Thomas are both well-known to college coaches already, and backed up their lofty reputations with outstanding play at the event.
One-on-ones with running backs and linebackers heavily favor the offense, so when Bates got his hands on four of the first five passes he defended, we knew it was going to be a special day for the eventual Combine Defense MVP. As good as Bates was, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Gates was right on his heels and is an impressive physical specimen. At 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, Vaughan is being recruited by some teams as a defensive end, but showed well at linebacker. He was extremely physical with running backs he went against, to the point of being too physical. Even when he got out and ran, he proved to be a good athlete.
Tabor, who had already earned an invitation to the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl prior to this event, was the big name of the group and the one players against whom wide receivers targeted to prove themselves. He did lose a few one-on-one battles, but the length, speed and instincts Tabor brings to the table were still first-team worthy. A pair of sophomores made early cases for their nominations to the 2015 Army Bowl. Fitzpatrick is long with active hands and fluid hips. Sheffield posted a 38.5-inch vertical and ran 4.56 in the 40 -- one of the combine's best times. Compton looks like he will continue the tradition of top defensive backs coming out of Southern California.