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Some Thoughts on the ESPN Under Armour All-America High School Football Game

Let me start this by saying that all star games or single games in general aren't the end all be all. If you'll pardon a crossover sports analogy, I'll try to illustrate the point. If you watched Lamar Odom vs. Tracy McGrady in the McDonald's All American Game, you might have come away thinking Odom would be the shoe in better pro. Afterall, Odom dominated the action and McGrady got but a few token rebounds and dunks. But at the time, Lamar was a much more accomplished ball handler and therefore didn't have to rely on other people to get him involved. Tracy not so much. The funny thing is, Tracy turned out to be the better player. All star games aren't NBA games. Hell they're not college games or high school games for the matter.

And I think this analogy applies vis a vis the careers of Matt Barkley, Russell Shepard, and Garrett Gilbert. Not to say that one player will certainly be better than the other, I'm just saying don't take the results of this all star game as the gospel. It's one game and not even a real game at that. And the all star game scenario favors the skillsets of a Russell Shepard and Matt Barkley over the game management skills of a Garrett Gilbert. Thems the facts.

Now onto the game and some thoughts on the players.

First, I thought the production of this game blew away the Army All Star Game. Seemed like the athletes top to bottom were much better, but perhaps that's a function of having actual stars at the QB position. Players were flying around making plays and the hitting was ferocious. I actually wasn't bored by this game, while the Army game sent me channel surfing.

Player thoughts.

University of Texas Commits

Garret Gilbert
Garret didn't show elite arm strength and seemed to struggle with the speed of the DB's early in the game. He was nearly picked twice on his opening drive. Has good mobility and handles the ball well. Deadly accurate. On his second drive moved the ball down the field with a variety of throws including a nice back shoulder fade on 3rd and long. Forced a throw and gave up a pick on first and goal. It's easy to see him going to college and commanding an offense and a system. His style and strengths certainly don't translate well to an all star game.

Barrett Matthews
One ball thrown to him and made a poor effort to haul it in. Matthews showed good speed for such a big man. Other than that, he had a quiet night. Reminds of Bo Scaife in body type.

Mason Walters
Played almost exclusively at center. Overpowered DT's in the run game and showed power forward like quickness and feet. He consistently found second level White Team defenders in the run game. Size wise he's a mountain, and you can tell the Horns got a good one. Had a dominating pancake on a DT to spring the back on one of the longer Black Team runs of the night. In pass pro he did fine. I think he's a waste playing inside with his talent.

Thomas Ashcraft
He reminds me of Antwan Kirk-Hughes in body type and style. Showed versatility playing inside and out although I think he finds a home inside in college. He can really root out a DT and gets push in the run game. In pass protection he was solid. Didn't see him get beat against the talented White Team front four.

Paden Kelley
Obviously needs to get stronger, struggled mightily at LT. Roh beat Paden consistently with a variety of pass rushing moves. PK was beaten with quickness and bull-rushed as well. He'll definitely need 3 or 4 years in the program before he's ready to compete at an elite level.

Texas Players of Interest

Russell Shepard
Pat White with a below average arm. Russell did show good toughness by hanging in on his long TD throw. The throw should have been picked but the DB misjudged the ball. Shepard followed up his long TD pass by failing to allude a DE in space for a sack and then gave up a scoop and score by not protecting the ball on another sack. Had a nice QB draw for a TD from 15 yards out. He's so quick his first few steps that he erases defender's angles similar to VY. Not VY in that he doesn't have elite size and not near the passer Young was in high school but RS oozes talent. Could excel at wide receiver or QB in the right system. Big, big miss for Texas. He appeared faster and more elusive than Pryor was in his all star game.

Tom Wort
Got Knocked The F' Out by a receiver cracking back on the opening play of the game. Other than that, he had as much impact on the game as HenryJames. In some Sooner bizzaro world he would have been named MVP for best landing. Style points baby.

Craig Loston
He put an evil hit on his cousin Russell Shepard on the first snap of the game drawing a personal foul. The hit sent Shepard flying into the Tibia/Fibula of one of the poor chain gang bastards snapping the lower leg in half. Seriously. The dude drew a 15 yard penalty and caused $10K worth of doctor bills on the first snap of a meaningless game. Evil player. I love him for the same reason my Pastor says you shouldn't listen to AC/DC. Point blank, we should have paid Loston. He'd make opposing wide receivers resemble Devine High School receivers in their alligator arming. Just a missile coming up in run support. He made an unbelievable near-pick on a Gilbert pass. Future star. A true mother fucker.

Other Players of Note

Matt Barkley
Very strong arm. First play from scrimmage hit Brown on a 70 yard slant. He seemed to struggle when he had to take something off his throws. Touch passes, swing passes to the backs, etc. You can tell why he's so highly touted. Looks much better potential wise than I thought Clausen looked. Had a second TD pass on perfectly thrown deep ball. Gonna be a star. Unbelievable QB prospect from a pure physical standpoint. If he's not a douche he'll play in the League.

Craig Roh DE (Michigan)
Straight baller that showed a Dwight Freeney spin on Kelley for a sack and sacked/tackled Russel Shepard in space. Had a handful of QB pressures over the course of the game. Rich Rod got himself a good one.

Chaisson (Sooner DE) I hate to say it, but the sooners got a good one. He looks like a beast coming off the edge. I hope he gets gout.