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December 30, 2007• More All-star games coverage | U.S. Army All-American Bowl Coverage
As their impressive high school football careers come to an end, a group of the nation's top senior prospects are gathering to add one more finishing touch to their r?m?
The Offense-Defense All-Star Game in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., features some of the biggest names in the class of 2008. Each participant will get one more chance to show what he can do against a roster of college-ready talent.
The teams are separated geographically into an East and a West team. The squads will have three days of two-a-day practices before suiting up for the Jan. 5 game in the Orange Bowl.
The East team is led by Florida standout D.C. Jefferson, a three-star quarterback who will be taking his services up the coast to play for Greg Schiano at Rutgers next fall.
He will have three four-star targets to throw to in Alabama commit Melvin Ray, Oklahoma commit DeJuan Miller and Florida State commit Jabaris Little out of Tallahassee, Fla.
The options on the ground won't be limited for the East, either. Michael Shaw, the No. 7 rated running back in the country by Rivals.com, will be running behind four four-star offensive linemen. Recent Clemson commit Dalton Freeman, Georgia commit Cordy Glenn, Virginia Tech commit Bobby Massie and Illinois commit Graham Pocic should provide plenty of space for Shaw to work.
On the defensive side of the ball, the East team will have a heavy Penn State flavor at linebacker. Three East linebackers - Brandon Beachum, Mike Yancich and Mike Zordich - plan on heading to State College, Pa., to play college ball. They will be joined at the position by two other four-star recruits in Bruce Taylor and Marcus Dowtin.
In the secondary, Nick Moody, the No. 8 outside linebacker in the nation, will be showing his versatility at safety. Easton, Pa., standout Jarred Holley and four-star prospect Brandon Boykin will be taking care of the corners.
The trenches for the East will have a Florida flavor. Gainesville's Earl Okine and Keith Wells and Pahokee's Micanor Regis are set to play up front.
On the West side, the strength is at the skill positions. Cyrus Gray of DeSoto, Texas, and North Carolina commit Jamal Womble from Arizona form a dynamic tandem. However, the East would be wise not to focus too much attention on the run - else the nation's No. 9 wide receiver, Kemonte Bateman, could spring free.
Bateman will be joined by four-star prospects Jeff Fuller and Marvin Jones, giving the West quarterbacks three of the nation's top 20 wide receivers at their disposal.
Those quarterbacks include two very capable passers. Matt Scott of Corona, Calif., and Beau Sweeney of Fresno, Calif., are heading to Pac-10 schools. Each could hurt the East with his feet as well as his arm.
While the offense is sure to put up some points, the defense for the West has no shortage of talent. Nebraska commit Will Compton and Texas A&M commit Kyle Mangan spearhead a blue-collar linebacking corps that will be protected by some big bodies in front of them.
USC commit Armond Armstead will be lining up at defensive tackle, where he should be a load for any offensive lineman to handle. It will be difficult to focus solely on Armstead because the West has four of the nation's top 15 strongside defensive ends playing on the same unit.
Chase Clement, Datone Jones, Damien Holmes and Everrette Thompson form a scary foursome at defensive end. Clement will get to pin his ears back and rush the passer from his natural position; he played linebacker in high school. Jones and Holmes will get a chance to build some chemistry before reuniting at UCLA next fall.
In this all-star event, even the kickers are top-notch. Quinn Sharp an Oklahoma State's commitment out of Mansfield, Texas, is rated by Rivals.com as the top kicking prospect in the nation.
There will be nowhere to hide on the field or at practice during the Offense-Defense All-Star week. It is time to find out who is ready to perform on the highest level.
• More All-star games coverage | U.S. Army All-American Bowl Coverage