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December 31, 2008
Under Armour Daily Rewind: Light first day
MORE: White team | Black team | UA rosters | Army AA Bowl coverage | More all-star coverage
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Rivals.com looks at the top five news items from the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando in the Daily Rewind. Each day Rivals.com will break down the biggest news, player injuries and updated recruiting news in a compact and easy to digest format. Practice began on Wednesday and will continue for the next two days.
1) FIRST DAY IS A LIGHT ONE
Unlike years past, there is a very limited practice schedule this week for the Under Armour All-American Game. The players are only practicing for three days total and only once per day. Because of the schedule, the coaches have to take advantage of every second. Most of Wednesday's practice was spent installing the offenses and defenses.
"We had a lot of stuff thrown at us," White team linebacker Ronnell Lewis said. "It was a lot to digest, but we've got it all down pretty much."
Most of the practice was spent in walk-through situations with only the last hour or so spent on live drills. Even then, contact was very limited. Expect the intensity to pick up over the next few days.
2) QUARTERBACKS HAVE STRUGGLES
Coming into the first day of practice, much of the talk was about the abundance of top-flight signal-callers in the game. Despite featuring three five-star prospects in Russell Shepard, Matt Barkley and Garrett Gilbert, the position as a whole was slightly off Wednesday.
"It's tough getting used to new receivers and everything," Shepard said. "I'm not making excuses or anything, because I don't think any of us were happy with practice today, but we knew it would be a struggle at first. It's also tough with brand new balls that aren't broken in. There are a lot of good (quarterbacks) here, though, so I don't think it's going to be a lasting problem or anything. I think you'll see a big difference tomorrow."
3) DEFENSIVE TACKLES DOMINATE
One position that looked good on both squads was defensive tackle. Despite not having much depth at the position on either team, the starters all had very solid days in one-on-one drills against the offensive line. For the black team, Jacobbi McDaniel and Josh Downs had their fair share of success against their much larger offensive counterparts. It was the same story with Gary Brown and Corey Adams of the White team. McDaniel had several memorable matchups with arguably the most impressive offensive lineman in the game, 6-foot-7, 310-pound center Mason Walters.
"I got him good the first time," McDaniel jokingly said of Walters. "He's really good. That's like the biggest center I've ever seen, but he could move. We went up against each other a bunch and I got him quite a few times."
4) THE FLORIDA CONNECTION
With the game being held in the talent rich Sunshine State, it should come as no surprise that many players from the state of Florida are on the rosters. A closer look at the rosters, however, reveals what a talent-laden class it is for the state. The Black team is especially loaded with local stars. It seemed that every time a big play happened, it was by one of the 16 Florida natives on the 40-man roster. Whether it was wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson of Pahokee, safety Ray Ray Armstrong of Sanford Seminole or one of numerous others, the state represented well. They have also seemingly developed a bond whether they are on the same team or not. While the entire Southeast, along with Texas and California, has a strong presence at the game, nobody matches the depth of Florida.
5) ANNOUNCEMENTS SET
Several top prospects are planning to make their college intentions known this week. While most plan to do so during Sunday's game at the Citrus Bowl, the commitments are actually scheduled to kick off when five-star Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower safety Craig Loston announces at the Skills Challenge on Friday evening. So far, five other prospects have said they plan to make their commitments at the game. They include the Sanford (Fla.) Seminole trio of five-star athlete Andre Debose, four-star athlete Ray Ray Armstrong and four-star defensive end Dyron Dye. Also set to announce are Atlanta Booker T. Washington five-star cornerback Branden Smith and Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata four-star center Mark Brazinski.