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January 8, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. - After a week of watching practice and the game itself, Brian Perroni breaks down the top 10 players from the Black team at the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando.
Black Team Top 10
1) ATH GREG REID
5-9/175, Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes
The Georgia state Player of the Year as a senior, he made his name primarily as a running back. However, he proved that he belongs as a college cornerback. Every receiver on his team said that Reid was by far the toughest defender they faced all week. Despite giving up quite a bit in height to the bigger receivers, his natural instincts won out as he continually broke up passes or recorded interceptions. He earned the Defensive MVP for the game with two interceptions and came very close to a third.
2) DT JACOBBI MCDANIEL
6-0/270, Greenville (Fla.) Madison County
Some may question how the Florida State commit will adjust to the next level because of his height, but he proved this week that it should not be a problem. He took on every offensive lineman who was willing in one-on-ones and got the best of the battles almost every time. He was not only a disruptive force in the backfield but also was a sure run-stopper in the middle. In an age where it continually gets harder to find athletic defensive tackles, the Seminoles seem to have gotten themselves a steal in McDaniel.
3) WR DURON CARTER
6-3/183, Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
There was perhaps no bigger surprise during the week than this three-star prospect. Coming from great bloodlines as his father, Cris, was one of the top receivers to ever play in the NFL, Carter showed that he is a student of the game by finding open seams where others would have given up on routes. Though not the fastest receiver on the field, he had a knack for getting open and caught everything thrown his way. In practice, he dropped what would have been an acrobatic one-handed catch while being blanketed by a corner, and observers were genuinely disappointed as they had grown accustomed to seeing him haul in everything. He should see a significant jump in the next set of rankings.
4) ATH ANDRE DEBOSE
6-0/170, Sanford (Fla.) Seminole
One of a trio of high school teammates playing in the contest, Debose set himself apart from the other receivers with his speed. He is a deep threat who was constantly getting separation on the cornerbacks during practice. Though he could project to the defensive side of the ball in college, his skills after the catch will likely keep him at receiver. He showed those skills during the game with a 94-yard touchdown reception in which he beat cornerback Branden Smith and then outran free safety Stephon Gilmore to take it to the house. The future Florida Gator could remind the folks in Gainesville of Percy Harvin.
5) OL MASON WALTERS
6-7/310, Wolfforth (Texas) Frenship
Though he says he would prefer to play offensive tackle at Texas, he is perhaps the country's largest high school center and plays very well at the position. He and McDaniel had some great battles in one-on-one drills as Walters showed that he could block the interior defenders. He also played some left tackle as well and, despite not lining up on the outside in high school, showed the ability to stop the pass rushing defensive ends. He is an incredibly versatile prospect who should see early playing time in Austin as he can pretty much fill in wherever he is needed along the line.
6) WR NU'KEESE RICHARDSON
5-9/151, Pahokee (Fla.) High
Though pretty much the smallest receiver out there, Richardson showed the best ability after the catch of any prospect in the game. A high school quarterback, his abilities as a runner help him out tremendously in the receiving game. Once he got the ball in open space, the Florida commitment was incredibly tough to catch. With his skill set, Richardson could also be a very dangerous return man for the Gators.
7) DT DEMONTE MCALLISTER
6-3/263, Tampa (Fla.) Alonso
Like his future Florida State teammate McDaniel, McAllister is an undersized defensive tackle who can create mismatch problems for an opponent. A true pass-rushing threat from the inside, he gave the guards and centers fits during one-on-one drills. He is stronger than one would think, so he was effective in bull-rushing his opponent. He also was a bright spot for the Black team's defense in the game, finishing with a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup.
8) S ISAIAH BELL
6-1/209, Youngstown (Ohio) Liberty
After struggling through the first practice and temporarily moving to linebacker, Bell found his rhythm starting on Day Two. A big safety, he was able to come up to the line of scrimmage and stop the run as well as cover the inside receivers. Though he could add some bulk and be a very good outside linebacker at Michigan, he has the instincts of a safety in the passing game. Sunday's game proved that as he finished second on the team with five tackles and also added a pass breakup. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
9) QB RUSSELL SHEPARD
6-1/179, Houston Cypress Ridge
There is not a more polarizing prospect when it comes to opinions of his potential at the next level than Shepard. Though he is still learning the nuances of the quarterback position and it showed at times throughout the week, he also showed the flashes of brilliance that gained him offers from pretty much every college program in the country. There is not a more dangerous running quarterback out there than the LSU commit, but he also showed that he is not afraid to stay in the pocket as he connected with Debose on a 94-yard touchdown pass in the game despite being leveled by Gary Brown as he threw it. Shepard showed off his feet as well with a 15-yard draw for a score.
10) LB PETEY SMITH
6-0/230, Sefner (Fla.) Armwood
Smith looks more the part of a fullback than an inside linebacker, but he proved his doubters wrong throughout the week. Pressed into getting almost every repetition during practice and the game due to the fact that he was the only inside linebacker on the Black team, he showed that he can fill the gap to stop the run as well as deliver punishing blows. He had several jarring hits in Sunday's game and showed a little bit more athleticism than many expected after seeing his frame. He was the team's leading tackler with nine, including two for losses, and also recorded a pass breakup in the game. He will have to work hard to keep his weight under control, but he proved he can play linebacker at the next level.