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January 5, 2009
SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is once again in the books and after a solid week of watching practice and the game itself, Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell and the Rivals.com recruiting staff break down the top 10 players from the East squad. Led by five-star running back Bryce Brown, the East was simply loaded with talent and playmakers.
East Team Top 10
1) RB Bryce Brown
6-0/215, Wichita (Kan.) Wichita East
Brown showed off his versatility all week whether it was running the ball or catching it and in the game itself he was dominant. He is much quicker than expected for a bigger back, has tremendous vision and change of direction and he adjusts to the football in the air like a wideout. He is a true playmaker in every sense of the word and can dominate games by himself.
2) DB Willie Downs
6-2/192, Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby
Downs came into the week more known for his playmaking ability on offense but as a defender he had no peer on the East. He was always around the football, has great range and closing speed and the ball skills of the big-time wide receiver he is. In the game he had an interception for a touchdown, forced a fumble and had two tackles for a loss. He would have been the East MVP had Tajh Boyd and Bryce Brown not hooked up on that last touchdown pass.
3) DE Donte Moss
6-4/235, Jacksonville (N.C.) Northside
Moss wasn't allowed to show his true ability until the East scrimmaged mid-week and the actual game was played. With all the talk about West offensive tackle D.J. Fluker throughout the week, Moss not only held his own against the giant but made big plays. He was in on four tackles during the game and forced quarterback AJ McCarron into the interception that Willie Downs returned for a score. Moss was outstanding all week but really came on when allowed to rush the passer and hit.
4) QB Tajh Boyd
6-1/208, Hampton (Va.) Phoebus
Boyd was solid all week in practice but was overshadowed a bit by Aaron Murray and Kevin Newsome at times. However, when the pressure was on, no one on either side delivered like Boyd. Playing with a torn ACL, he threw for a record 187 yards and three scores including an amazing 34-yard strike to Corey Brown while on the run. No one improved his stock more from the game than Boyd did.
5) LB Shayne Skov
6-3/235, Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity Pawling
Skov entered the week and looked a bit lost at times after playing linebacker for the first time this season and adjusting to the speed of other All Americans. However, by mid week he was the leader of the defense and the most physical player on the team. His performance in the scrimmage was outstanding as he nailed Bryce Brown for a loss, knocked Kevin Newsome loopy and got into it with Orson Charles. In the game itself, he had two tackles for a loss in a big goal-line stand and finished second on the team in tackles.
6) ATH Orson Charles
6-3/230, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
Charles was the East's best route-runner all week and became the offense's fiery leader throughout. He was a nightmare for linebackers and safeties to cover during the week, he was physical after the catch and he showed off excellent hands. He could play wide out or tight end in college or a combination of those two positions. In the game he led the East in catches and will be a solid option to move the chains at the next level.
7) OL Xavier Nixon
6-6/263, Fayetteville (N.C.) Jack Britt
Nixon established himself as the most athletic of the East offensive linemen early in the week and got better and better in each practice. What he lacks for in size he makes up in quick feet, good technique and surprising strength. Nixon went against Donte Moss for most of the week in practice and in the scrimmage and it certainly prepared him for live action on Saturday.
8) DB Justin Turner
6-2/186, Massillon (Ohio) Washington
Turner is a big kid who was forced into playing cornerback for the East and did a very solid job all week. In the game itself he showed off his tackling ability and ball skills and showed he's either going to be a rare corner who supports the run well or a ball-hawking safety who isn't afraid to come up and hit. Either way Michigan gets a steal.
9) WR Corey Brown
6-1, 180, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
Brown played wide out during the week and was outstanding flashing his speed and ball skills. He also made arguably the best catch of the game (sorry Patrick Patterson) going up between defenders and knowing he was going to get drilled but still hanging onto the ball. While Brown was great at wide out, his potential is even better as a cornerback or safety at the college level. Whichever way he plays, he'll be a good one.
10) WR Jeremy Gallon
5-8/165, Apopka (Fla.) High
Gallon was the star of practices all week and was effective in the scrimmage and during the game itself. He is tiny but he has great quickness and he is smart. He knows how to find space between the cornerback and the safety and catches almost everything thrown his way. He'll be a slot receiver at the next level and will be hard to cover, using his lack of size to his advantage.