January 4, 2008

Under Armour Edge: Position breakdown

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Some of the top football talent in the country has come together at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex this week for the first Under Armour All-Star Game to be played Saturday.


Rivals.com has been on site all week evaluating both teams. Which team has the edge at each position?






Under Armour Position Breakdown



MANUEL



QUARTERBACK


Silver: This squad is blessed with athletic quarterbacks that are capable of big plays with their arms or legs, led by ACC bound E.J. Manuel and Kyle Parker. Manuel looks very raw but has great size and mobility. Parker probably has the best mechanics but lacks the desired height for most college quarterbacks.


Red: Prototypical tall pocket passers highlight the Red team signal callers. It is led by N.C. State bound Mike Glennon and Oklahoma commit Landry Jones. Glennon has looked good on several deep balls this week while Jones has shown the ability to ad lib when the pocket collapses.


Edge: This one is very close, but the Red Team has a slight advantage because its drop back passers should have plenty of time in the pocket behind a dominating offensive line.




CALHOUN




RUNNING BACK


Silver: The backfield has a good combination of power and speed. The bruisers are Jamie Harper of Jacksonville (Fla) Trinity Christian and Katy, Texas native Aundre Dean. The quick backs are N.C. State commit Brandon Barnes and Clemson commit Andre Ellington.



Red: This team also has a good mix of size and speed, with Arkansas commit De'Anthony Curtis and Oklahoma commit Jermie Calhoun leading the way. Don't forget about cat quick running back Carlton Thomas though. He will be really hard to see behind the Red's giant offensive line and is a big play threat on every touch.



Advantage: Harper has individually looked the best all week, but the Red team's balance in the backfield combined with the quality of its offensive line should give it the advantage in the running game.




GREEN



WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END


Silver: Silver coach Jim Hanifan has an unbelievable assembly of great talent at receiver. Georgia bound A.J. Green has been a top performer all week, but he has plenty of help from the likes of Aldarius Johnson , T.J. Lawrence and Chris Tolliver. The team's biggest asset though might be future USC Trojan Blake Ayles. The tight end has awed his teammates and coaches all week.


Red: This group of receivers also has speed to burn and plenty of height as well. It is led by Joshua Jarboe, who has gotten behind the defense this week on many occasions, and Daryl Stonum, who also has also shown great size, hands and speed. Two players that could really make a difference if fully healthy are Julio Jones, who has been hampered with a couple of nagging injuries, and ultra quick Texas commit DeSean Hales. Hales has been bothered by a sore shoulder. Brandon Moore is the top Red team tight end.


Edge: Overall, this position is the deepest group at the UA All-Star Game. Ayles may be the X-factor in this matchup for the Silver squad. He runs great routes and will be really tough on the linebackers who have not covered him all week. Advantage Silver.




LOVE




OFFENSIVE LINE


Silver: This team has had to make some late changes to the roster and lacks many true offensive tackles. Notre Dame commit Braxston Cave will be making the line calls from the offensive center position. He will get most of his help from guards John Michael Boswell and the muscular Matt Stankiewitch. Antoine McClain and Mark Buchanan will anchor the tackle positions. Miami prospect Brandon Washington was a great mid-week addition to the roster. He could play either tackle or guard in this game.


Red: This group is blessed with very good offensive tackles in five-star Tyler Love and four-stars Dann O'Neill and Zebrie Sanders. They are tall and very athletic and all have a chance to compete for playing time as college freshmen. The interior line features massive guard Khaled Holmes, but he will be getting plenty of help from Ben Jones.


Advantage: After watching five practices this week, it is safe to say the Red team has a big advantage. Its line is larger and more athletic with great bookend tackles to help slow the Silver pass rush.




BOWERS



DEFENSIVE LINE


Silver: Clemson commit Daquan Bowers has dominated practice all week. He will be the central factor how successful the defense is at slowing down the Red offense. He will get most of his help from powerful inside presences Brandon Thompson and Rod Davis. These two baby bulls will be very difficult to run against.


Red: The Red defensive lineman all week has been Omar Hunter. He has been able to take advantage of almost all his teammates in practice with either great technique or brute power. He will be assisted by Texas commit Jarvis Humphrey, who recently has lost significant weight due to oral surgery and Minnesota commit Jewhan Edwards. From the edge, look for Jerrel Harris and Tyler Westphal to apply pressure on E.J. Manuel and Kyle Parker.


Advantage: The matchup is very even, but Hunter has dominated all week and he will wreak serious havoc in the middle of the Red front. Give a slight edge to the Red team.




KAVIENGA




LINEBACKER


Silver: This group lacks great speed, but it has three guys that seek contact and love to hit. Look for Florida State commit Nigel Carr to lead this group, but Andrew Sweat and Daniel Franklin will also likely make their presence known.


Red: The Red team is not lacking for speed at linebacker. This group has been all over the field this week. Sean Spence is a supremely talented defensive player, but he has to share the spotlight with Uona Kavienga and Ramon Buchanan. All three have had standout weeks. These guys have really punished ball carriers. You may also see Jerrell Harris get some snaps at his natural linebacker position and give a huge boost to stopping the run.


Advantage: The Red team has a huge advantage because of its linebackers blazing speed. They get bonus points for likely being huge special teams contributors as well.




HARRIS



DEFENSIVE BACK


Silver: The best cornerback here this week has been Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington's Brandon Harris. He will be the key for this secondary, but he will need help in stopping the very gifted Silver receivers. That should come from Spencer Adams at free safety, but the new Clemson commit has also worked at corner and has enjoyed success against the taller receivers. Florida State commit Terrance Parks should also make an impact coming from his strong safety position and will add tough run support.


Red: This is a very fast and talented group of players. Two future Florida Gators have really stood out in corner Janoris Jenkins and safety Will Hill. Jenkins is very physical and has the ability to take receivers off of their intended route. Hill adds blazing speed from his free safety spot and can cover the whole field in the blink of an eye. They will be assisted by two really quick corners in, Charles Whitlock and Joe Adams. The surprise weapon here is all-around athlete Burton Scott, who has played on both sides this week. If Scott touches the ball, big things are likely to happen.


Advantage: Even though Harris has impressed the most, there is a decisive depth advantage for the Silver team.




WIGGS



SPECIAL TEAMS


Silver: UCLA commit Jeff Locke will have a busy day for this squad, handling both kicking and punting duties. He has looked better as a punter this week. He seemed to struggle working with new holders early in the week.


Red: This team is carrying two kickers. Caleb Sturgis and Carson Wiggs have each had impressive weeks. Sturgis has showed really good range in his field goal attempts. Wiggs will most likely handle the punting duties, which he has performed very well in practice.


Advantage: Having two kickers gives the Red team a big advantage. If either struggles, Red coach Ron Meyer has a backup.




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