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January 8, 2011

Army Bowl: Winners and losers

MORE ARMY BOWL: Announcements | Complete coverage

SAN ANTONIO - The Auburn Tigers play for a national championship on Monday night in Arizona.

But they won big in San Antonio on Saturday afternoon.

Auburn was a somewhat surprising recruiting winner during the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl when five-star linebacker Brent Calloway of Russellville (Ala.) High highlighted the list of 14 on-air commitments by announcing on NBC that he's headed to Auburn.

Auburn picked up another surprise when four-star athlete Kris Frost of Mathews (N.C.) Butler announced he, too, was headed to Auburn. Frost is considered the No. 39 overall recruit in the country.

Of course for Auburn fans, the only thing that comes close to winning is Alabama losing. That was the case with Calloway, who was an Alabama commit when he arrived at the Army Bowl this week.

With that, a look at the biggest recruiting winners and losers of the game - which was won by the East, 13-10.

Biggest individual win: Auburn pulled off a huge coup when the five-star linebacker, Calloway, switched to the Tigers from in-state rival Alabama. Not many people even knew that the No. 12 overall prospect was having second thoughts about his commitment to the Crimson Tide. That'll be comforting news for Auburn fans as they prepare to cheer on their Tigers against Oregon in Monday's BCS national championship game.

Biggest overall winner: Once again, this would go to Auburn. Not only did the Tigers land five-star prospect Calloway, it also received a commitment from Frost, a top 50 player nationally.

Biggest overall loser: Michigan took some big hits on Saturday. Rivals100 running back Demetrius Hart switched his commitment to Alabama from the Wolverines earlier in the week but reaffirmed that choice on live television during the game. Frost was also a strong Michigan lean heading into the week but decided on Auburn after head coach Rich Rodriguez was fired this week. The Wolverines also missed out on four-star linebacker Wayne Lyons, who pledged to Stanford.

Earliest impact: Viliami Moala could see early playing time as a nose guard in California's 3-4 defense. The 6-foot-2, 325-pound run-stopper could have a chance to start as a true freshman.

Biggest buzz: Not to continue harping on it, but it was the biggie of the day. Calloway had been committed to Alabama since the summer. Word began to spread that the 6-foot-1, 210-pound defender was planning to make an announcement during the game but Crimson Tide fans thought that it was just so he could have his day in the spotlight as well. However, that wasn't the case.

Calloway shocked many observers by switching his pledge late in the process. It was doubly hard for Alabama as he decided to commit instead to bitter rival Auburn.

Sleeper of the day: Another SEC school, Mississippi, also added a big commit on Saturday. Madison (Miss.) Central wide receiver Tobias Singleton gave the Rebels a boost when he picked them over Mississippi State and UCLA. With the head-to-head victory over Mississippi State, head coach Houston Nutt made sure that Ole Miss is still a school to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail.

Conference king: Other than Calloway and Frost, the highest-rated prospect to announce his commitment on Saturday was Atlanta (Ga.) Grady athlete Damian Swann. The 6-foot, 175-poind two-way standout continued the SEC flair when he committed to in-state Georgia over Alabama and USC. The No. 56 overall prospect in the country was another tough loss for the Crimson Tide and gives the Buldogs two top commits in the week as Justin Scott-Wesley reaffirmed his commitment on Thursday.

The SEC picked up another Rivals100 pledge on Saturday was well. A day after winning the Cotton Bowl, Les Miles and company saw their good fortunes continue when in-state star Odell Beckham Jr. made his commitment known. The four-star athlete from New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman picked the Tigers over Miami. He was the second pledge in two days for LSU as Rivals250 running back Jeremy Hill re-committed on Friday.

And if anyone cared, that would be five of 14 prospects committing on Saturday that wound up with SEC teams. The Pac-10 had four, and actually it could be counted as five considering Utah is set to join the league.

Biggest relief: Despite the loss of coach Jim Harbaugh to the NFL's San Francisco 49ers on Friday, Stanford still managed to haul in a cross-country commitment on Saturday. Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard safety Wayne Lyons was one of the most heavily pursued prospects with offers from coast to coast. The 6-foot, 190-pound defender made it clear that academics - not a head coach - would be a major factor in his decision and proved it by picking the Cardinal over Michigan and UCLA.

Biggest mystery: Perhaps no player kept things closer to the vest than Bennettsville (S.C.) Marlboro County outside linebacker Lateek Townsend. While there were a few surprises among the other prospects committing on Saturday, they at least gave hints about their choices.

That wasn't the case with the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Townsend. The nation's No. 172 overall prospect left fans of his finalists, Clemson, LSU and South Carolina, in the dark. After being scheduled to announce in the second quarter, he made fans wait even longer by being the last player to make his intentions known.

In fact, there was widespread doubt that Townsend would end up announcing anything on Saturday. In fact, even the game's organizers were surprised, as he apparently had told them that he would be headed to South Carolina. His surprising pick summed up the day well.

More commitment notes: Though Frost, who picked Auburn over Michigan and LSU, plans to start out his career at wide receiver, Auburn could have picked up two future starters at the linebacker spot in one day. The Tigers' big coup should help them make a significant jump in the team recruiting rankings.

Louisville has been a force on the recruiting trail in South Florida late in the process. The Cardinals picked up two former Miami commits from Miami (Fla.) Northwestern in four-star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and three-star wide receiver Eli Rogers. They continued their push during the Saturday's telecast.

Miami (Fla.) Southridge safety Gerod Holliman is ranked as the No. 93 overall prospect in the country. After initially pledging to Ole Miss this summer, he had a change of heart as of late. After de-committing from the Rebels, the 6-foot, 180-pound defender decided to join Bridgewater and Rogers in heading to Louisville.

Holliman is the fourth Louisville commit from the city of Miami in the class of 2011, joining Bridgewater, Central wide receiver Charles Gaines Jr. and offensive lineman John Miller in the fold as well.

South Jordan (Utah) Bingham athlete Harvey Langi has been one of the more impressive prospects on the West roster this week. Though originally slated to play linebacker, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder played running back and turned heads at the position.

With finalists of Stanford, Utah and USC, many expected Langi would be a Trojan. Instead, he surprised a few people by declaring his intentions to play for in-state Utah. With its move to the Pac-12 next year, the Utes have put together a very solid class so far.

Cal received a nice addition to its recruiting class when defensive tackle Viliami Moala picked the Bears. The 6-foot-2, 326-pound defender from Sacramento (Calif.) Grant also considered Oregon and Oregon State but, in the end, "Tiny" decided to stay in-state and play for head coach Jeff Tedford.

Another top prospect picked an in-state Pac-10 program when Hillsboro (Ore.) athlete Colt Lyerla announced he would be playing for the Oregon Ducks. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Rivals100 prospect is ranked as the No. 87 player in the county and has a chance to see a ratings bump after a big showing this week at linebacker.

The Ducks, who are playing the BCS national championship, are clearly seeing their efforts pay off in the recruiting class. In addition to Lyerla, they have also done a great job outside of their state's borders with commitments from Devon Blackmon, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Anthony Wallace, Christian French, Tyler Johnstone, Andre Yruretagoyena and Tacoi Sumler. With quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James returning to Eugene next season the future looks to be in good hands.

The future Pac-12 was not finished with its haul for the day, though. Sacramento (Calif.) Grant safety James Sample, a high school teammate of Moala, picked Washington over Oregon State and Arizona State. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound defender, ranked as the No. 206 overall prospect in the country, could still visit Oregon State along with Moala, though.

Penn State started the recruiting cycle off relatively slow but has done well in recent weeks. It secured a big out-of-state pledge from West Branch (Mich.) Ogemaw Heights defensive end Anthony Zettel in late December. It was a big score for the Nittany Lions when the Rivals100 prospect picked them over in-state Michigan.

On Saturday they received a commitment from Owings Mills (Md.) offensive tackle Donovan Smith. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound lineman picked Penn State over North Carolina State and UCLA. The nation's No. 199 overall prospect is the third four-star and the 12th player overall to commit to the Nittany Lions.



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