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January 5, 2009
SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Army All America Bowl is once again in the books and after a solid week of watching practice and the game itself, Rivals.com recruiting editor Jeremy Crabtree breaks down the top 10 players from the West squad with assistance from the Rivals.com recruiting staff. Led by five-star offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, the West had plenty of elite players, despite falling in the game 30-17.
West Team Top 10
1) OT D.J. Fluker
6-7, 350, Foley (Ala.) High
Fluker was one of the most dominating offensive linemen to ever play in the Army Bowl. The 6-7, 350-pounder is a mammoth-sized prospect, and his power and strength are off the charts. Fluker is also extremely physical and uses his huge hands to take control of the defender. He also moved really well and helped open up some nice holes for the West running backs. His big block in the first quarter, helped spring Christine Michael on a big gain.
2) DT Sheldon Richardson
6-4, 292, St. Louis Gateway
Richardson arrived in San Antonio a little lighter than what he played with during the season because he's been playing basketball. He speed on the gridiron was a lot like a basketball player. He looked like a power forward with his strong, powerful build. But it was his quick first step ? both at tackle and at end ? that drew rave reviews all week in practice. His first step was one of the quickest out of any team in the game, and that allowed him to be disruptive every day in practice and then record a sack in the game. He's definitely good enough to make an immediate impact at Missouri.
3) WR Rueben Randle
6-3/195, Bastrop, La.
The No. 1 player in the country played exactly like the No. 1 player should. Despite having a bad hamstring all week in practice, he was the leading receiver in the game with seven catches for 75 yards. Rivals.com analyst Barry Every said he believes Randle will have a similar impact as a freshman as Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Michael Floyd and DeAndre Brown wherever he ends up.
4) LB Vontaze Burfict
6-2/244, Corona (Calif.) Centennial
The hardest-hitting player in the game ? period. Burfict's hits all week in practice were the topic of great conversation by the West players. Every time he would lay somebody out, the West players would hoot and holler. He was the third-leading tackler for the West in the game with 3? tackles, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. He's the type of head-hunter linebacker who has the mass, speed, athleticism and football IQ to be an immediate impact ? even on a loaded defense like USC.
5) RB Christine Michael
5-11/202, Beaumont (Texas) West Brook
Was the West's most consistent playmaker all week in practice with solid effort in everything he did. He has superior change of direction and has the speed to beat linebackers to the corner. He also showed a good toughness in practice to run between the tackles as he often would deliver the blow in the hole on the linebacker, instead of getting going down on first contact. His 25-yard run in the first quarter was something really special, and he has the tools to be a force right away at Texas A&M.
6) DE Alex Okafor
6-4/232, Pflugerville, Texas
Okafor ranks with Burfict as the most consistent defensive player all week for the West squad. The way he would blow up run plays to his side, or beat talented offensive tackles like D.J. Fluker in practice were great sights to see. He then backed up his great play in practice with three solo tackles in the game. With his long arms and consistent play making ability, he should be a good player for Mack Brown at Texas.
7) S Patrick Hall
6-1/181, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
The USC-bound five-star safety was a ballhawk all week for the West. He was all over the field in practices, breaking up passes and then coming up to support the run with great closing speed. He was also the West's most consistent player on defense all week. He always gave great effort and always seemed to be doing good things in practices. He also delivered in the game with three tackles and a pass breakup.
8) CB Cliff Harris
6-0/165, Fresno (Calif.) Edison
Harris comes from Fresno (Calif.) Edison, which should be better known as DB High. The school has produced countless Division I stars and NFL players. Harris has the football IQ and talent to carry on that trend. While Harris was perhaps the lightest participant this week, he was also the quickest and fiercest competitor. There wasn't a receiver on either squad he couldn't stay glued to. His change of direction and break on the ball were as sharp. He always was deadly for the West on special teams, too.
9) DE Nick Kasa
6-7/245, Broomfield (Colo.) Legacy
Was one of the West's best playmakers every day in practice and then came up big in the game with two quarterback hurries. He showed good speed off the edge, giving the East offensive tackles fits in the game. He has great overall size and is very quick off the ball. His size and speed combination allows him to have the potential to play either strongside defensive end or weakside in the SEC.
10) WR Greg Timmons
6-3/191, Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower
Timmons was the headliner in the mid-week scrimmage when he caught three touchdown passes. He had an overall very solid week of work, showing solid hands and ability to go deep with good speed. He also displayed some of the best ups on the West side, when he went up high for a touchdown on a fade route during 7-on-7 battles in Thursday's practices. The Longhorns have a great tradition of receivers under Mack Brown and he has the tools to be the next good one for UT.
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