NCF On The Trail: 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl

Husky feel to Semper Fidelis Bowl 

January, 5, 2013
The East team snuck out with a 17-14 win at the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, thanks to a touchdown pass from Eddie Printz (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter) to Ryan Switzer (Charleston, W. Va./George Washington) with six seconds remaining. But the biggest takeaway from the game was the impact made by the future Washington Huskies.

Wide receiver Darrell Daniels (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) caught a touchdown in the game, but the biggest impact he made were the big impacts he made. On a scramble by his quarterback, Daniels peeled back and leveled a pursuing East defender, sending helmets flying. Later, in punt coverage, Daniels got his hands on Switzer and threw the much smaller receiver to the turf.

[+] EnlargeRyan Switzer
Erik McKinney for ESPNMissouri QB commit Eddie Printz hooked up with UNC commit Ryan Switzer, pictured, for the game-winning East touchdown.
“I just came out wanting to have fun and make a statement that I could be physical instead of just running around people,” Daniels said.

Not to be outdone, future Washington defensive linemen Elijah Qualls (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) and Daeshon Hall (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) pestered the East quarterbacks all night. The five Washington commitments who came into the game were joined by a sixth when wide receiver John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) made his commitment to the Huskies during the third quarter. Ross, who will play wide receiver for the Huskies, offers an elusive speed threat to pair with Daniels, who had an opportunity to get to know Ross this week.

“We’re going to be very complementary to each other,” Daniels said of Ross. “He’s a very fast receiver, a good receiver, and I’m going to enjoy playing alongside him.”

Although his West team didn’t get the victory, Daniels said he and his fellow Huskies sent the message they wanted to during the game.

“We just wanted to make a statement that U Dub is coming back up on the map,” Daniels said. “We came out and made a statement early in the game and we played hard.”

Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl superlatives

Biggest hit: Aside from the block Daniels threw, this honor goes to Qualls. The nearly 300-pound defensive tackle lined up at fullback several times during the game, and on one occasion, he took a screen pass and made his way outside, where he met David Kamara (Loganville, Ga./Grayson). Kamara deserves plenty of credit for lowing his shoulder and taking on Qualls, but the bigger Qualls simply ran Kamara over and continued down the sideline, much to the delight of his West teammates.

Best “wow” moment: With six minutes remaining in the second quarter, Florida State commit Levonte Whitfield (Orlando, Fla./Jones) fielded a kickoff and was gone. He had 78 yards to flash his terrific speed and didn’t hesitate to do so.

Best play: With time running down in the fourth quarter and the East team trailing 14-10, Missouri QB commit Printz rolled out and fired deep ball to Vanderbilt commit Latevius Rayford (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis Central), who went up between double coverage and came down with the grab. Reyford was able to tap one foot down his momentum carried him out of bounds for a 37-yard gain.

Near-perfect performance: Quarterback Matt Alviti (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South) completed 10 of 12 passes for the West team. Though it was in a losing effort, Alviti began the game a perfect 9-for-9, which isn’t something you usually see from quarterbacks in an all-star environment. The Northwestern commit passed for 104 yards and a touchdown.

[+] EnlargeMatt Alviti
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comEven though his West team lost, quarterback Matt Alviti has nearly perfect, completing 10 of his 12 passes.
Most impactful play: The West defensive line was able to put pressure on East quarterbacks all game long, so Printz wasn’t surprised when he took a snap from the 2-yard line and was forced to scramble back to the 20-yard line and buy time before finding North Carolina commitment Switzer in the back of the end zone with six seconds left to give the East team a 17-14 lead and the eventual win.

Outlaw is still on the run

Offensive guard Josh Outlaw (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) has experienced just about everything when it comes to the recruiting process. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound standout was a very early verbal commitment to Florida. The four-star lineman made the decision to commit at Florida’s spring game on April 7. But sparked by his desire to take his official visits, Outlaw decommitted from Florida in August and now heads into January with almost everything still up in the air.

“Right now I’m open,” Outlaw said during practices for the Semper Fidelis All-American Game. “I want to see what other schools have to offer and what I could bring to the table for them and what they can bring to the table for me.”

Outlaw said he will definitely visit Miami, TCU and West Virginia in January. He added that while the visits aren’t set in stone, there was an understanding before the dead period that all would get scheduled.

While Florida pushed hard for another commitment in the immediate aftermath of his decision to back away, Outlaw said the contact has been less and less recently.

“We haven’t had contact lately -- as much as we did,” he said of the Gators. “We I did decommit, they wanted me to reconsider. But I just needed time to reconsider all my options.”

It would likely be tough for a new school to get into the mix for Outlaw, but he said that at this point he has no favorites and isn’t in a hurry to bring the process to a conclusion.

“I’m looking for the best opportunity,” he said. “There is no favorite. Everybody has a clean slate.”

Outlaw said he is looking for several specifics in his school of choice.

Huskies add to haul with John Ross 

January, 4, 2013
When John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) was in Seattle for Washington’s Rising Stars Camp last summer, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound athlete said the Huskies made him feel like part of the family.

Whether he was on the field with Troy Williams, the program’s quarterback commit, or spending time with one of his former teammates who currently plays for Washington, Ross knew the Huskies would be a good fit.

His cousin and high school teammate, 2014 receiver Rahshead Johnson, enjoyed the trip to the camp so much he gave the university a verbal commitment before returning to California.

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CARSON, Calif. -- Washington continued its success in mining the Golden State for talent on Friday night, as four-star athlete John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) announced his commitment to the Huskies during the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Ross kept a low profile during the recruiting process, but the 5-foot-9, 170-pound speedster became one of California’s most sought-after skill position players this past spring and kept that momentum going throughout his senior season. Ross held offers from much of the Pac-12, as well as national programs such as Arkansas, Miami, Michigan and Nebraska.

Ross eventually cut his list to four Pac-12 programs: Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and UCLA. He took official visits to all four, but nothing could top the comfort level he said he felt with the Huskies. He’ll join several former teammates at Washington, and could also be reunited next year with 2014 prospect and teammate Rahshead Johnson, who committed to the Huskies this past summer.

Washington now holds verbal commitments from 21 recruits in the 2013 class, including eight four-star players -- six of whom hail from California. Ross has the ability to play wide receiver or cornerback at the next level and proved throughout his high school career that he can be a dynamic weapon in the return game.

Ross' recruitment could be one to monitor further, as all of his finalists will continue to pursue him until signing day.

South Carolina gets another ESPN 150 RB 

January, 4, 2013
Fun and gun? How about ground and pound.

Steve Spurrier was known for airing it out with top-flight quarterbacks while at Florida, but he has been piling up the ESPN 150 running backs while at South Carolina.

The Gamecocks added ESPN 150 running back David Williams (Philadelphia/Imhotep Charter) on Friday, and Williams is the third running back in the ESPN 150 the Gamecocks will sign in the last four classes.

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UCLA gains verbal from TE Duarte

January, 4, 2013
CARSON, Calif. -- Three-star tight end Thomas Duarte (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) put a quick end to his recruiting process on Friday, as the three-star prospect made a verbal commitment to the UCLA Bruins at the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

"The education is great that I'll receive and their football is on the rise," Duarte said. "I'm going to love to be a part of the revolution that is UCLA football."

Duarte surprised many by even scheduling his announcement to take place at the event. He said all season that he would focus on recruiting after the season and looked to have a busy January ahead of him. But the 6-foot-3, 223-pound, two-way threat felt comfortable enough after multiple unofficial visits to make a commitment to the Bruins.

He held offers from much of the Pac-12 and eventually narrowed his choices to a final four of Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and Washington. Duarte took unofficial visits to all but Notre Dame.

Duarte had a phenomenal senior season for a Monarchs team that surprised many by posting an 11-3 record. He caught 58 passes for 1,025 yards and 15 touchdowns, and also racked up 42 tackles 10 sacks and three interceptions on defense.

He has the ability to play multiple positions at the next level, but will begin his career as a tight end.

He is verbal commitment No. 20 for the UCLA Bruins, who needed a versatile tight end to bring in alongside a fantastic group of wide receivers. The Bruins were able to turn tight end Joseph Fauria into a dynamic weapon in the passing game this season, and they likely see the same ability in Duarte.
CARSON, Calif. -- South Carolina added a headliner to its 2013 recruiting class on Friday, as running back David Williams (Philadelphia/Imhotep Charter) announced his commitment to the Gamecocks during the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

"From the beginning of process, they've been there strong," Williams said of the Gamecocks. "Coach [Steve] Spurrier showed me a lot of interest."

The ESPN 150's No. 124 player becomes the top recruit in South Carolina’s class and will look to fill the role vacated by Marcus Lattimore’s early departure for the NFL draft.

"I think I'll fit in perfectly," Williams said of South Carolina's offense. "I'll come in and have an opportunity to play early."

Williams, 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, is one of the more sough-after backs in the Northeast, as the four-star tailback held offers from a number of prominent programs, including Auburn, California, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin. He eventually whittled his list to Arizona State, Penn State and South Carolina and took official visits to see the Sun Devils and Gamecocks before settling on Steve Spurrier’s program.

He is commitment No. 20 for South Carolina’s 17th-ranked recruiting class. He is the second ESPN 150 commitment and fourth ESPN 300 commitment for the Gamecocks. Williams put together a tremendous senior season for the Panthers, as he led them to an undefeated regular season and a 14-1 record overall. Williams rushed 195 times for 1,904 yards and 23 touchdowns, including two touchdown runs of more than 90 yards.

With Williams’ commitment, only three of the country’s top 15 running backs remain uncommitted.
The 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl should offer plenty of intrigue on the field when it kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. PT from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. With some of the top players from across the country in attendance, recruiting fans will have plenty to keep their eyes on over the course of the game.

West quarterbacks vs. East quarterbacks

In all-star games, the quarterback position almost always receives the most attention, and with it, either praise or scrutiny. This year, the position offers some interesting regional twists, with bragging rights on the line. For the West team, representing the Pac-12 will be Jared Goff (Kentfield, Calif./Marin Catholic) and Anu Solomon (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman), committed to Cal and Arizona, respectively. For the East team, and headed to the SEC, are Austin Allen (Fayetteville, Ark./Fayettevills) and Eddie Printz (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter). Allen is headed to Arkansas, with Printz committed to Missouri. Giving the Midwest fans something to watch are Notre Dame quarterback commitment Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter), playing for the East squad, and Northwestern commit Matt Alviti (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine Township), who will suit up for the West.

[+] EnlargeMalik Zaire
Erik McKinney/ESPN Quarterbacks are all the rage at all-star games and Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire will have a lot of eyes on him Friday at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
West S Hatari Byrd vs. East WR Jordan Smallwood

Oklahoma fans could have a chance to see two future Sooners square off as Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central) and Smallwood (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) could see plenty of each other over the middle on Friday. Adding to the matchup, both Byrd and Smallwood have been terrific during practices this week, each vying for top honors at their respective positions for each of their teams. This will likely be the first of many times these two get a chance to go at each other over the next few years.

West CB Cole Luke vs. East WR William Fuller

Another matchup of future teammates will take place, as Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Fuller (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic) will both head to Notre Dame next fall. This Notre Dame recruiting class is very close, and Luke is certainly aware that of the five Fighting Irish verbal commits at this game, he is the only one on the West roster. He’ll want to prove himself against Fuller, who was terrific during practices for the East team.

Washington defensive line commits vs. East offensive line

LSU defensive tackle Christian LaCouture (Lincoln, Neb./Southwest) deserves credit for his performances during practice, but Washington commitments Elijah Qualls (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) and Daeshon Hall (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) were nearly unblockable all week for the West team. They’ll have a chance to prove themselves when they go up against an East team that had some of its own issues during practices. One matchup of particular interest could be if Hall finds himself set against Notre Dame offensive tackle commit Mike McGlinchey (Philadelphia/William Penn Charter), who was the standout lineman all week for the East.

Pac-12 vs. the country

Players headed to the Pac-12 have a chance to make a strong statement in this game. Not only will the conference likely land two of the players scheduled to announce during the contest, the West team is littered with players headed to the Pac-12, and could be led by a trio of Oregon commitments, in wide receivers Darren Carrington Jr. (San Diego/Horizon) and twins Tyrell Robinson and Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln). The offensive line features five Pac-12 verbal commitments, while only one wide receiver on the roster--Texas A&M commit Jeremy Tabuyo (Honolulu/St. Louis)--is likely to play his college football outside the conference.

[+] EnlargeChristian LaCouture
Brandon Oliver/ESPNAs solid as LSU DT commit Christian LaCouture is, he has had a hard time blocking the West offensive lineman at Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl practice.
Announcements to be made during Friday's game

• WR John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) -- The playmaking receiver has been quiet all year when it comes to recruiting. His recruitment has been a three-team race from the get-go. In reality, the Washington Huskies have always been the one team thought of as the front-runner due to the four-star's ties to the program. Oregon and UCLA have been in the mix and even rumored to be his leader at some point. The dynamic Ross will make his college decision between the three Pac-12 programs during the game on Friday.

• TE Thomas Duarte (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) -- The 6-foot-3, 220-pound TE-Y could play WR, TE, H-Back, LB or DE on the next level but he is best as a big weapon in the slot. His is under-sized as a TE, but athletic enough to play WR in any system. Like Ross, he too was awfully quiet throughout his recruitment. Also like Ross, Duarte is down to Oregon, UCLA and Washington, with Notre Dame also in the mix for the versatile four-star. Most believe it is down to UCLA and Oregon. If that's the case, it means that the unofficial visit he took to Oregon as a junior either resonated so well that he doesn't need to go back for an official visit...or that he is all UCLA.

• RB David Williams (Philadelphia/Imhotep Charter) -- The talented running back will announce his choice between Arizona State, Penn State and South Carolina. The country’s No. 124 player would be a big addition to the Nittany Lions, but strong pushes from the out of state schools have made Williams’ recruitment an interesting one. At 6-foot-1, 192 pounds, Williams can do it all as a tailback and has a chance to be a featured back in any offense. At this point, it is thought that the Gamecocks have the edge.

Updates from Junior Rank 2013 Proving Ground Combine

• Cornerback Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) was happy to be back on the football field for the first time since his team was eliminated from the playoffs, as the 5-foot-11, 170-pound cornerback took to the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Thursday for the Junior Rank 2013 Proving Ground Combine.

Hale arrived late to the event, so he didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but said he did well in the broad jump and the shuttle.

“It was just good to get out there,” Hale said. “I hadn’t been out on the field in a while, so that felt food.”

Hale was joined by teammates Jaleel Wadood and Shay Fields Jr., and that trio will bring plenty of college coaches out to St. John Bosco this spring. Schools have already been in touch with the standout junior, although none have extended offers thus far.

“I’ve been getting connected with Washington and Northwestern -- just trying to stay connected,” Hale said. “I’ve talked to Utah also. They said they love my film.”

Hale said Oregon and UCLA have been in contact as well, and that he receives e-mails from the Ducks almost daily.

“Washington wants me to come to their junior day in February,” Hale said. “A lot of schools have said they’re going to start picking things up after the 2013 class is over. After that, I’m just ready for it to start.”

• 2015 offensive guard Jake Grant (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon) will stay in a hotel after performing at the combine on Thursday. It might be a good idea for him to get used to ordering room service, as the 6-foot-3, 260-pound big man will be on the road plenty over the next few months.

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One of the top offensive weapons on the West squad at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl is sitting out the week with injuries, but he could be one of the players in attendance to make some news before the week is done.

Cal WR commit A.J. Richardson (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) has been committed to the Bears since July, but the three-star receiver hasn't heard much from the new staff in Berkeley.

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Semper Fi Day 3: Kamara stands out 

January, 2, 2013
FULLERTON, Calif. -- With the first-day jitters long gone and players beginning to settle into their game-day roles during the third day of practices for the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, several players continue to jump out with impressive performances. On Wednesday, it was defensive back David Kamara (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) who authored a standout showing.

[+] EnlargeDavid Kamara
Erik McKinney/ESPN.comEast defensive coordinator Shawn Raney said on Day 3 of practice for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl that David Kamara, right, can play anywhere in the secondary.
“He’s a very athletic kid,” said Shawn Raney, defensive coordinator for the East team. “He understands the game and he catches onto stuff really quickly. He’s mentally sharp and does a nice job.”

During one-on-one action early in the day, Kamara made a terrific play on a deep ball while in coverage against Jordan Smallwood (Jenks, Okla./Jenks). He stuck with the big receiver down the field and knocked the ball away at the last minute. It was a glimpse at his physical ability, and the East coaches have been impressed with his mental capacity as well.

“The first day I let them go where they thought they could play and I watched them move around,” Raney said after Day 3 practice. “Today was the first day where I put them at specific spots, and he’s the type of kid who could play any of them. He’s playing corner and some strong safety for us. He’s athletic enough to be a corner and smart enough to play safety. He has very quick feet and nice, loose hips where he can turn and rotate with receivers. He’s a very good athlete.”

Kamara is the only undecided recruit in the secondary for the East squad, but the 5-foot-10, 175-pound cornerback said he is focusing in on three schools: Clemson, LSU and Mississippi.

A former Clemson commitment, Kamara pulled away from the Tigers in November and wanted to explore his options. He’ll do that later this month, as he has official visits scheduled to LSU on Jan. 11 and Mississippi on Jan. 25. He is trying to set up a visit to Clemson for Jan. 18. Kamara holds offers from Clemson and Mississippi but said LSU is still waiting to offer.

“They told me I was going to have to wait and see because when I committed to Clemson, I wasn’t really talking to them and they got a couple commitments at my position,” Kamara said of LSU. “I have to wait and see, but Coach [Brick] Haley has always been honest with me.”

A.J. Richardson
Brandon Oliver/ESPN.comCal WR commit A.J. Richardson confirmed at Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl practice that he is giving other programs serious looks.
Kamara said he is hoping to have a decision made toward the end of January after he takes his visits.

Newsmaker: Without any real movement on either roster in the recruiting world on Wednesday, the biggest buzz was generated when word began to circulate around the East team about the commitment of four-star running back Tarean Folston (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa), who is in Orlando, Fla., this week for the Under Armour All-America Game. He makes 12 ESPN 300 commitments for Notre Dame, and with four Fighting Irish verbal commits on the East roster, the news was met with plenty of enthusiasm.

“That circulated pretty fast,” Notre Dame quarterback commit Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter) said. “We caught word and we’re very excited to have another running back, especially a great running back. That only makes my job a lot easier.”

Trending: Rumors of possible decommitments were flying around the West team in Sanata Ana, Calif., on the third day of practice for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

After visiting Duke, Nevada and Boise State, Cal WR commit A.J. Richardson (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) confirmed that he is giving all three programs a serious look after failing to hear much from Cal's new staff.

Washington OL commit Sean Harlow (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) remains committed to the Huskies, but a visit to Oregon State appears to have him thinking about a change of heart.

What's on tap: With walk through and additional game prep scheduled for the Semper Fi game participants on Thursday, the underclassmen will take center stage during the Proving Ground underclassmen combine.

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The West team at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl has just a handful of uncommitted players on the roster, all of whom are highly sought after recruits.

Thomas Oser
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comA strong relationship with Oregon's offensive line coach could be the difference for Thomas Oser.
One of them might not be the biggest name of the bunch, but he has impressed his coaches, teammates and even a United States Marine. OL Thomas Oser (North Hollywood, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) also has an impressive offer list that features schools from the Pac-12 and the SEC. Out of the offers he does have, the same three schools he has been eying for months make up the list from which he will choose later this month.

Oregon, Stanford and Vanderbilt -- where Oser's friend and high school teammate, QB Chad Kanoff (North Hollywood, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) is committed -- make up the 6-foot-5, 280-pounder's finalists and all three have something that gives them an edge over the others.

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ESPN 300 DE Hooper near decision 

January, 1, 2013
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- With a strong performance during the first two days of practices for the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, one of the top uncommitted prospects in the West is showing why he is a member of the ESPN 300.

DE Austin Hooper (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) has been one of the stars for the standout defensive line that the West squad is featuring this week. After helping De La Salle capture yet another California state title two weeks ago, the versatile Hooper has shown good quickness, hands and a motor that doesn't stop during the first two days of practice.

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Byrd's the word on Semper Fi Day 2 

January, 1, 2013
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- After a sloppy effort on Day 1, the second day of practice for the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl left the West team feeling much better about itself. The West team had a number of candidates for player of the day as Washington DL commits Daeshon Hall (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster), and Elijah Qualls (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande), Oregon commits Darren Carrington Jr. (San Diego/Horizon) and Tyrell Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln), LSU commit Christian LaCouture (Lincoln, Neb./Southwest) and Texas A&M LB commit Reggie Chevis (Houston/Sharpstown) were among the top performers on the day.

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Four schools remain for Cunningham 

January, 1, 2013
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Zach Cunningham (Pinson, Ala./Pinson Valley) didn’t receive the early recruiting attention that some of his peers did. Thanks to a terrific senior season, however, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound outside linebacker will experience all of the pros and cons of a heated recruiting battle as signing day, Feb. 6, approaches.

Cunningham said he didn’t start getting offers until Week 9 of his senior year, but he now holds double-digit offers and has narrowed things down to a final four of Auburn, Oregon, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

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Elijah QuallsTom Hauck/ESPNHSElijah Qualls continues to be pursued by UCLA and Nebraska despite his commitment to Washington.

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- One of the most intriguing players in the country is undersized as a defensive tackle and oversized as a running back, yet has the ability to do both at a high level. This week, Elijah Qualls (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) is playing the position that comes most naturally to him, defensive tackle.

After a standout performance at the first day of practice for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, it's easy to see why UCLA and Nebraska continue to pursue the No. 212 player in the ESPN 300 despite his longtime commitment to Washington. The 6-foot-2, 265-pound Qualls is an interesting player because he can play all over the field.

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FULLERTON, Calif. -- Monday marked the first day of practice for Friday’s Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. While all of the players adjusted to the location and the morning practice time, more than a few hit the ground running at full speed.

For the East squad, the defensive line was slightly undermanned, but that didn’t stop it from getting off to a fast start. More often than not, the player providing the highlight was Chikwe Obasih (Brookfield, Wis./Brookfield Central).

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