- Damon Sayles, RecruitingNation
The Under Armour All-America Game is a week away, and several players are preparing to prove themselves against equally talented athletes on one of high school football’s biggest stages.
Currently, four UA All-Americans -- Texas defensive end commit Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan) and cornerback commit Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/St. Augustine), Oklahoma dual-threat quarterback pledge Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Kansas offensive lineman commit Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches) -- are committed to Big 12 schools.
Here are five uncommitted players who are considered major targets within the Big 12:
CB Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
5-foot-10, 192 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 7
The nation’s No. 2 cornerback, Jackson will be one to watch as we inch closer to 2014 -- particularly since he has been relatively silent about his recruitment as of late. Oklahoma is a potential destination for Jackson, but the Sooners will have to beat LSU, Florida State, Florida, Tennessee and Pac-12 schools Oregon, USC and UCLA. Because Jackson is such a good athlete, you have to wonder if he’ll try to play football and run track at the next level. The school to land Jackson will get an explosive athlete with very good instincts.
CB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen)
6-foot, 196 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 11
Brown could be the steal of the year if he chooses the Big 12. Texas is a dark-horse competitor in the race for Brown, who many feel will choose either LSU or Texas A&M when he announces during the Under Armour Game. The nation’s fourth-ranked cornerback, Brown is expected to graduate early. He will play football and run track in college, as he’s one of the best hurdlers in the world in his age division. If track plays a huge role, look for Brown to pick LSU and not only play both sports but also join his older sister Bealoved, a sprinter for the Tigers’ women’s track team.
S Laurence Jones (Neville, La./Neville)
6-foot-2, 208 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 22
Here’s an athlete who really can shock the recruiting world. Jones, the nation’s second-ranked safety, decommitted from Alabama on Dec. 18, and many feel the race is between Alabama and LSU. However, Jones took an unofficial visit to TCU in July and was pleasantly surprised with the facilities and overall atmosphere. While it’s considered a long shot that Jones will commit to the Horned Frogs over the competition, it must be noted that he’s a fan of the TCU program and the direction it’s going under coach Gary Patterson. Anything is possible in recruiting, and Jones is the kind of player who wouldn’t mind catching the recruiting world off guard.
S Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie)
6-foot-1, 212 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 106
Playing the percentages, the Big 12 has a 67 percent chance of landing Freeman, the nation’s seventh-ranked safety. Texas and TCU are in the hunt, as is Texas A&M. Schools such as Oklahoma and LSU are on the outside looking in at the moment. Whichever school lands Freeman will get a player who can play safety or outside linebacker. Freeman, at one time, was considered a Texas lean, but with Mack Brown’s resignation, it is tough to determine where Freeman ultimately will end up. He is expected to announce on one of two days -- either during the Under Armour Game or on national signing day at his school.
G Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South)
6-foot-6, 285 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 123
Smith is the top-ranked player in Kansas, but he could end up playing college football in Texas. The nation’s seventh-ranked offensive guard has offers from TCU and Texas A&M, and both schools are high on his list. Missouri, Alabama, Ohio State and several other schools have offered. Smith, like Brown, could join family at the next level. His older sister Megan is a thrower for the TCU women’s track and field team. If he commits to the Horned Frogs, he would be the team’s highest-ranked 2014 recruit. What’s scary is that Smith can add weight to an already impressive frame and not have it hurt him.