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January 5, 2012

UA matchup: Blur WR vs. Highlight DB

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Under Armour All-America Game is set for Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, and the contest will feature many standout players from across the country. Today, we focus on the Team Blur receivers and Team Highlight defensive backs. Blur's receiver group has several well-known prospects, including Amari Cooper,Avery Johnson and Shaq Roland among others. Five-star safety Landon Collins is one of the players with whom Highlight will counter. Here's a closer look at the matchup.

The players

Blur wide receivers: Marvin Bracy (Boone, Fla.); Amari Cooper (Miami Northwestern, Fla.); Trey Griffey (Dr. Phillips, Fla.); Alton Howard (Edgewater, Fla.); Avery Johnson (Ely, Fla.); Latroy Pittman (North Marion, Fla.); Darius Powe (Lakewood,Calif.); Shaq Roland (Lexington, S.C.);

Highlight defensive backs: Landon Collins (Dutchtown, La.); Bryson Echols (DeSoto, Texas); Chaz Elder (Banneker, Ga.); Trae Elston (Oxford, Ala.); Joshua Holsey (Creekside, Ga.); Terry Richardson (Cass Technical, Mich.); Deion Sanders Jr. (Marcus, Texas).

The breakdown:

The Blur receivers are a strong group, even though they've been -- for the most part - relatively quiet this week. Without question, Cooper, a speedy player who runs terrific routes and catches just about everything he can get his hands on, has been the best of the bunch in practice. Nobody has gotten in and out of his breaks better. While Bracy is undersized, one can't ignore the fact he's the fastest kid here (and probably the country). You'd have to believe an effort will be made to get him the football in space, where he's at his best. Griffey, son of baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr., has been the surprise of the unit. His routes have been on point, and his hands haven't betrayed him. Howard, like Cooper, has consistently gotten open in practice. Powe is a big target at 6-feet-2, and you can bet fellow Cal commit, Blur quarterback Zach Kline will do his best to get the ball to his future teammate. Pittman and Johnson also are threats. Pittman is a bigger, more physical receiver. Johnson also has good size and is quite quick. Last, but certainly not least, is Roland, a player who is among the most dynamic of the bunch. This is probably the prospect on hand most likely to make a spectacular catch in Thursday night's game.

Collins, who will announce his commitment during the game (Alabama or LSU), is the headliner in the secondary. He's a 6-feet,199-pounder who is physical and plays the game very fast. Collins is a big-time hitter, but also has the hips to excel in coverage. Richardson, a four-star Michigan commit, is certainly another prospect to watch. The cornerback, listed at 5-9, 160, plays big, and is surprisingly physical for someone his size. Elder, another player who will make his commitment Thursday (Georgia, South Carolina or Vanderbilt), has the frame of a safety, but is agile enough to play up at the line and stick with receivers. In Holsey, the Highlight team has one of the fastest athletes on hand. Will he be the player tasked with covering Bracy?

Keith Niebuhr can be reached at Keithrivals@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @KeithRIVALS.



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