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January 4, 2009
Army Bowl Final Hot 11: West
SAN ANTONIO – After a week's worth a work and an exciting game, the U.S. Army All-America Bowl for 2009 is in the books. Rivals.com national recruiting editor Jeremy Crabtree takes a look at the top 11 performers from the West squad for the entire week in this Hot 11 feature.
West Team Final Hot 11
6-2/244, Corona (Calif.) Centennial
The hardest-hitting player in the game – period. Burfict's hits all week in practice were the topic of great conversation by the West players. Every time he would lay somebody out, the West players would hoot and holler. He was the third-leading tackler for the West in the game with 3½ tackles, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. He's the type of head-hunter linebacker who has the mass, speed, athleticism and football IQ to be an immediate impact – even on a loaded defense like USC.
6-1/181, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
The USC-bound five-star safety was a ballhawk all week for the West. He was all over the field in practices, breaking up passes and then coming up to support the run with great closing speed. He was also the West's most consistent player on defense all week. He always gave great effort and always seemed to be doing good things in practices. He also delivered in the game with three tackles and a pass breakup.
6-4, 280, San Antonio Warren
Howell was one of the most pleasant surprises all week long for the West. Ranked behind other national defensive tackles like Jamarkus McFarland, Howell was one of most consistent interior lineman for the West squad. Despite going down with a knee bruise midweek, he bounced right back and did a good job of taking on blockers, staying low, getting penetration, and getting to the ball. He only recorded a half tackle in the game, but that doesn't fully describe how good he was in practices. He also was one of the West's most vocal team leaders.
LB Nico Johnson
6-3/226, Andalusia, Ala.
Johnson led the West squad with four solo tackles, including two tackles for a loss. He has the size and strength to play inside and the speed to play outside. Was one of the West's most consistent players every day in practice and came up big in the game. The Crimson Tide have to be excited to have a playmaker like him coming their way.
DE Nick Kasa
6-7/245, Broomfield (Colo.) Legacy
Was one of the West's best playmakers every day in practice and then came up big in the game with two quarterback hurries. He showed good speed off the edge, giving the East offensive tackles fits in the game. He has great overall size and is very quick off the ball. His size and speed combination allows him to have the potential to play either strongside defensive end or weakside in the SEC.
5-11/202, Beaumont (Texas) West Brook
Was the West's most consistent playmaker all week in practice with solid effort in everything he did. He has superior change of direction and has the speed to beat linebackers to the corner. He also showed a good toughness in practice to run between the tackles as he often would deliver the blow in the hole on the linebacker, instead of getting going down on first contact. His 25-yard run in the first quarter was something really special, and he has the tools to be a force right away at Texas A&M.
DE Alex Okafor
6-4/232, Pflugerville, Texas
Okafor ranks with Burfict as the most consistent defensive player all week for the West squad. The way he would blow up run plays to his side, or beat talented offensive tackles like D.J. Fluker in practice were great sights to see. He then backed up his great play in practice with three solo tackles in the game. With his long arms and consistent play making ability, he should be a good player for Mack Brown at Texas.
6-3/215, Macon (Miss.) Nuxobee County
One of the West's most consistent route runners every day in practice, Patterson came up big in the game with a touchdown catch in the game. His grab in the third quarter was a thing of beauty, as he grabbed the ball with one hand by reaching over the defender. Patterson should make a great slot receiver, plus he has enough speed to play outside and go deep. He's a dangerous threat at receiver that is a good combination of possession and speed receiver.
6-3/195, Bastrop, La.
The No. 1 player in the country played exactly like the No. 1 player should. Despite having a bad hamstring all week in practice, he was the leading receiver in the game with seven catches for 75 yards. Rivals.com analyst Barry Every said he believes Randle will have a similar impact as a freshman as Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Michael Floyd and DeAndre Brown wherever he ends up.
6-4, 292, St. Louis Gateway
Richardson arrived in San Antonio a little lighter than what he played with during the season because he's been playing basketball. He speed on the gridiron was a lot like a basketball player. He looked like a power forward with his strong, powerful build. But it was his quick first step – both at tackle and at end – that drew rave reviews all week in practice. His first step was one of the quickest out of any team in the game, and that allowed him to be disruptive every day in practice and then record a sack in the game. He's definitely good enough to make an immediate impact at Missouri.
6-2/195, Sulphur Springs, Texas
After starting at slow at the start of the week, Rollison started to really hit his stride Wednesday when he captured the starting spot in the game with a strong showing in the scrimmage in the Alamodome. He was easily the most effective quarterback for the West team. He never seemed to panic in the pocket, and when he had to scramble he showed excellent speed. He's got superior athletic ability and shows tremendous pocket presence. His strong arm and great touch passes will allow him to be a threat right away wherever he ends up at – assuming he gets academically qualified.