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January 3, 2012

Players from non-power states look to show their stuff

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SAN ANTONIO - Vince Biegel is the highest-rated recruit from his state and a member of the RivalsHigh All-American team.

He had 172 tackles and 21 sacks during his senior season. And at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, he's built like a prototypical linebacker.

But that doesn't mean anything at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

"There are no duds here," Biegel said. "Everyone is a stud."

The All-American Bowl is the place where the nation's best players annually see how they compare against other studs. But for players from non-traditional football states - players such as Biegel of Wisconsin, Cyler Miles of Colorado and Jarron Jones of New York - it's a time to find out if they even match up at all.

For them, this game will represent the toughest competition they've faced.

"It's an honor to be here," Biegel said. "I'm humbled to have the opportunity, but it is also a time to see how you match up with the other players."

A Wisconsin commit from Wisconsin Rapids (Wis.) Lincoln, Biegel will compete for playing time in the West linebacker group against James Ross (Michigan), Royce Jenkins-Stone (Michigan), Brian Nance (undecided), Timothy Cole (Texas), Jabari Ruffin (USC), and Torisho Davis (LSU).

After two days of practice, he fully appreciates what he's up against.

"It is way different," he said. "More than I thought."

Simply put, it's a preview of what college ball will be like.

"Being here is and seeing these guys is for the best," he said. "I am learning a lot."

Like Biegel, Denver (Colo.) Mullen quarterback Cyler Miles is the lone representative of his home state.

"Colorado isn't Texas, California or Florida," Miles said. "There is some pressure to perform and show everyone what I can do being from Colorado."

Miles knows if has a bad week, his state will be looked down upon. Other players have a much higher margin of error. California has 16 players on the West roster; Texas has 15. Florida paces the East squad with nine.

"Our state is getting better," Miles said. "Our teams are getting better and so are the individual players."

Miles, who is committed to Washington, was eager to go up against Tyler Matthews (TCU) and Zeke Pike (Auburn) for the starting job.

"I am ready to play," he said. "I can handle my business and perform under the pressure."

After two days of practice, Miles is doing just that and appears to have the early edge in the competition.

The lone representative from New York, Rochester (N.Y.) Aquinas Institute defensive lineman Jarron Jones, got a quick lesson in how good the competition is in other states.

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound Notre Dame commit rarely has seen players of his skill level in his area of the country.

"This is completely different," he said. "All these guys are my height, my size, my skill level."

The East defensive line is loaded.

Darius Hamilton (undecided) was the RivalsHigh Defensive Player of the Year. Adolphus Washington (Ohio State) was an All-American. Jonathan Bullard (undecided) is a five-star player.

And that ignores star players Carlos Watkins (Clemson), Tyriq McCord (undecided), and Eli Harold (Virginia).

Jones doesn't need to take the field to know he's playing on a higher level.

"Where I am from, I am the only one that looks like this," he said.



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