January 3, 2009

UA All-American Game: The matchups

ORLANDO, FLA. Some of the country's top high school football talent is set to compete in the Under Armour All-American Game on Sunday at the Citrus Bowl. The game features several intriguing matchups that could play a factor in the outcome.

Here is a breakdown of some of the best battles and how they could develop during the game.

UA All-American Game Matchups
QB Matt Barkley vs. CB Greg Reid

Barkley has proven all week to be the most consistent and most accurate of all the quarterbacks in the game. However, he has not had a cornerback like Reid to haunt him. Reid has been all over the place for the Black squad, locking down receivers and jumping routes that the quarterbacks figured he had no chance to jump.

DT Gary Brown vs. OL Mason Walters

Walters has been a beast on the offensive line for the Black team. At 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, he will be playing mostly center throughout the game. He will definitely be the largest center that any of the defensive linemen have faced. Brown has been the most dominant interior lineman all week on the White squad, but he has not had to face a player like Walters.

DB Craig Loston vs. WR Duron Carter

Loston has lined up at free safety and cornerback throughout the week for the White team and has looked very good at times. He has the ability to play man coverage or come over and help at free safety. If the game resembles practice, he will have to help plenty covering Carter. The wide receiver has an incredible knack for finding open spots, so it will be interesting to watch if Loston can keep his eye on the big receiver.

LB Ronnell Lewis vs. TE Barrett Matthews

Nevermind this is matchup of future college rivals, it is also a battle between two of the most physically imposing players at their position in the country. Matthews is known as a vicious blocker, but is a very underrated threat in the passing game. Meanwhile, Lewis is a big outside linebacker that can give Matthews fits on run plays but could have a hard time keeping up with him in the passing game.

OL Xavier Su'a Filo vs. DE Dyron Dye

Su'a Filo is a somewhat undersized tackle while Dye is a pass rushing specialist. Dye has not been going against any tackles with Su'a Filo's quickness this week in practice, but he has looked good in giving the Black offense almost no time to get a play off. Su'a Filo has gone against some very similar players to Dye all week, so it should be interesting to see if he can keep up his excellent play in the game.

DE Craig Roh vs. OL Paden Kelley

Kelley will be in a familiar position on Sunday as he blocks for Garrett Gilbert, his high school quarterback. The competition across the ball from him will be much tougher than he faced all year, though. Kelley was the anchor of a line that gave Gilbert all kinds of time to throw during the season, but Roh has been as disruptive as any defensive end this week. While his frame isn't the largest right now, he has shown good power in bullrushing the tackles while also showing quick spin moves.

CB Branden Smith vs. WR Andre Debose

This should be a great matchup of five-star prospects. While Debose will be playing a lot of inside receiver, the White team will regret the decision if they choose to cover him with a safety. His speed and precision routes have been on display all week. Meanwhile, Smith has blanketed his team's receivers all week in practice. He has not seen a talent like Debose, though. Both players have a very high intensity level and both will want to win this matchup.

OL Mark Brazinski vs. DT Jacobbi McDaniel

Brazinski is a very good center prospect but he may not look like it if McDaniel continues his level of play from throughout the week. Working against a much better offensive line than he will see in the game, McDaniel has been a terror in both the pass rush and as a run stopper. He is one of the most athletic defensive tackles to come out of high school in quite some time. Brazinski is strong and uses his leverage well and that will be key if he hopes to keep McDaniel out of the backfield.

RB Trent Richardson vs. LB Petey Smith

Richardson has been the top running back for either team this week and will be the workhorse for the White team. He has shown a knack for being a great receiver out of the backfield but his strength is still running between the tackles. Smith is the only true inside linebacker on the Black squad and he is certain to see a lot of Richardson on Sunday. Richardson's quick cuts could give Smith some fits. However, Smith has been very good at the point of attack once he makes initial contact.

WR Michael Campanaro vs. LB Jelani Jenkins

Campanaro has been impressive this week for the White team. Though on the roster as a running back, he has spent most of his time at slot receiver and has flashed elusiveness while catching everything thrown to him. Jenkins is the No. 3 rated prospect in the country and can play either linebacker or safety. He has all the physical tools to stop Campanaro, but he has not practiced against anybody with the same skill set this week. Will he go into the game underestimating the three-star receiver?

LB Tom Wort vs. RB Chris Thompson

Wort is playing inside linebacker but his speed matches that of any safety in the game. He has consistently chased down runners from the backside while also covering receivers in the flats. Thompson is the true definition of an all-purpose back and will take handoffs to the outside while also catching quite a few passes out of the backfield. This matchup pits Wort's strength against Thompson's strength.

S Stephon Gilmore vs. QB Garrett Gilbert

Gilmore will be playing free safety alongside Loston for the White team. He has been able to help out in coverage quite well this week and has picked off a couple passes when the quarterback didn't see him coming. Gilbert loves the deep ball and taking advantage of one-on-one mismatches with his receivers. He must keep an eye out for Gilmore, though, or he could see one taken back the other way for a touchdown.

LB Manti Te'o vs. QB Russell Shepard

In another battle of five-star prospects, this one could prove to be the most important of all. Shepard's running abilities when he tucks the ball are widely known. He is a very deadly and can turn broken plays into long touchdowns. Te'o will have the tough task of spying on Shepard. Te'o has done well all week in practice breaking up plays and getting to the QB, but he has not faced anyone remotely resembling Shepard.


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