Monday, January 7, 2013
All-America game roundup: UT commits
By Max Olson
Texas was as well represented as ever in the nation’s biggest postseason all-star games this weekend. Of the Longhorns’ 13 verbal commits, nine were selected to suit up for one last game before beginning their college careers.
Seven went to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, though linebacker Deoundrei Davis didn’t play due to his torn ACL. Top-ranked commit Darius James shined at the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., and his high school teammate Naashon Hughes went to the Semper Fidelis All-America Game in Los Angeles.
Here’s a rundown of how the future Longhorns looked in their respective games:
Under Armour All-America Game
Top performer: OC Darius James (Harker Heights, Texas/Harker Heights)
Much was asked of the lone Texas commit in this all-star game. He played left tackle, which is not his college position, and thus had to deal with two of the best ends in the country: Auburn commit Carl Lawson, ESPN’s No. 2 DE, and Baton Rouge, La., end Tim Williams, who’s ranked No. 3. James most definitely delivered.
He shined in the first quarter, holding off both ends with ease on his 12 snaps. Neither recorded a sack or even got close to taking down quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg and Cooper Bateman. Both ends stuck to trying to attack him with outside speed moves but had no luck. They didn’t even test James inside. Frankly, neither could come up with a way to beat the 6-foot-5, 320-pound lineman.
That showing just goes to prove how versatile James is, and why he’s Texas’ top-rated verbal commit. He’ll start off at center at Texas, but he could help out at any number of positions if needed.
Surprise: A few here. Other than the fact James played left tackle, one surprise was that we really didn’t see much of Baylor receiver commit Robbie Rhodes (Fort Worth, Texas/Southwest). He had one catch for 4 yards. Dontre Wilson had been battling an ankle injury and was a non-factor in the slot, but he did return a punt 47 yards.
Target watch: Safety Vonn Bell had a good showing on Friday, but Marcell Harris didn’t record a tackle. Both held offers from Texas. Receiver Ra’Shaad Samples, who was briefly offered in the spring, caught two passes for 23 yards, and cornerback Maurice Smith had three tackles.
Last year, Texas commit Kendall Sanders made a name for himself with two interceptions in the Army game. This year, it was Davis who took care of business.
The ESPN 150 cornerback blocked a field-goal attempt with a furious blitz off the right edge to end the first half, and he got in on another blocked kick with Notre Dame linebacker commit Jaylon Smith later in the game.
Texas offensive lineman commit Darius James had a solid week at the Under Armour All-America Game.
He was unhappy about not starting the game at corner, but Davis did well in coverage when he got a chance. He was the only West defensive back to record a pass breakup and almost intercepted a pass in the end zone at one point. Even if his big moment didn’t come at corner, he had a lot to be happy about on Saturday.
Surprise: It was disappointing to see receiver commit Jake Oliver only get targeted twice. Hayden Rettig, an LSU commit, couldn’t hook up him on either occasion. Just as surprising was the fact Tyrone Swoopes only got in on two series. He was the West’s No. 3 QB behind Max Browne and Rettig. Swoopes’ first drive ended quickly: He got stripped and fumbled in the backfield when Al-Quadin Muhammad broke loose and pressured him. He missed on his only pass attempt and ran for 5 on his only other carry. That Jake Raulerson (center) and Kent Perkins (tackle) were as good as expected on the offensive line was certainly no surprise.
Target watch: A’Shawn Robinson, who’s still committed but looking around, was impressive as a defensive end. He showed off his strength and motor and stepped up against elite competition with four tackles. Potential new target Laremy Tunsil also lived up to the hype for the East team. Torrodney Prevot, a USC commit who had a Texas offer, recorded four tackles.
Well, Hughes wins this by default. He was the only Texas commit who played in this game in Los Angeles on Friday night.
He earned the start at outside linebacker for the West squad and played most of the game. Hughes didn’t record a tackle, but he was mostly assigned to help in pass coverage and didn’t have any busts or give up any catches.
Surprise: Meet Rami Hammad. The Baylor offensive line commit, who’s been receiving interest from Texas lately, was flat-out dominant as a right tackle for the West squad, as he had been all week in practices. He engaged with defenders and didn’t let up until after the whistle, and Hammad even shoved around a few guys. He did more pass blocking than run blocking but looked strong in both areas.
Target watch: Again, nobody in this game whom Texas is still recruiting. Former UT commit Daeshon Hall had a big game off the edge with two quarterback hurries and a sack. Receiver Devon Allen, who got offered but declined to visit Texas, hauled in an impressive 25-yard touchdown on a fade route.