CARSON, Calif. – The Semper Fidelis All-American Game kicks off at the Home Depot Center at 6pm PST and will be televised on the NFL network. As you watch the talent-laden event, here are a few things to keep your eye on.
Darius Paige looks like he has the ability to dominate the game if he wants to.
4 to watch - East
WR Will Fuller - One of the stars of the week, Fuller has been the top all-around receiver on either team due to outstanding quickness and ability to get himself open. The Notre Dame commit has a chance to cement his rise with a good game.
RB, Alex Collins – The No. 1 running back in the country on 247Sports, Collins has an opportunity to prove us right on Friday evening. Practice doesn’t afford backs a lot of opportunity to showcase themselves but the game should.
DT, Darius Paige – An Alabama commit, Paige is freakishly strong and very talented but he’s shown very inconsistent effort in practice. We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of impact he has when it counts.
S, Ahmad Thomas – A “stock up” kind of guy this week, Thomas has shown a great safety frame and plenty of athleticism. Now we get to see the Oklahoma commit hit. We suspect he won’t disappoint in that category either.
4 to watch – West
TE, Thomas Duarte – A hybrid wide receiver threat Duarte is an intriguing prospect that is a really versatile athletic pass-catcher. We’re anxious to see if he is in that elite range athletically with the ability to dominate an all-star setting.
WR, Darren Carrington – Carrington plays weak competition during the fall so this game will be a great opportunity to prove to everyone what we’ve believed for a while: that he can dominate any level. Carrington has good size, and great route-running ability.
DT, Elijah Qualls – Maybe no defender has had a more dominating week of practice than Qualls. He’s extremely physical and active despite limited size and he may even line up at running back. The Washington commit will be fun to watch.
CB, Johnny Johnson – Johnson loves to compete and has been one of the better defensive backs all week for the West. If someone for the West makes a big play defensively to change the game, Johnson is perhaps the best candidate.
Top position battles
East DL vs West OL
The offensive line group is one of the distinct areas of advantage for the West. It’s a deep talented group that has looked the part all week led by Dane Crane, Rami Hammad and Sean Dowling. But across the way, the East defensive line has looked very talented in their own right. Will the West be able to slow down Paige, Chikwe Obasih, Alec James, Shaun McGee and the wave of talented defenders up front for the East?
West LB vs East RB
The West linebackers look the part with good size and more importantly good instincts. Victor Egu, Naashon Hughes, Reggie Chevis and Peyton Peuller look like a college linebacking corps right now. They better play like one. The East features an absolutely loaded running back group with Collins, David Williams, Laray Smith, Ray Lewis III and Corey Clement. Neutralizing that group will be essential for the West and the task falls largely on the linebackers.
East QBs vs West QBs
All-star game settings often come down to what quarterback plays the best, or maybe what quarterback doesn’t play the worst. It’s a challenging setting for quarterbacks, grasping a new offense, playing with new receivers and adjusting to a different game speed. This week no quarterback has been head and shoulders above anyone else. All six passers have had their moments and their struggles. The group that plays with the most consistency should win the game.
5 we’re anxious to see
S, Jeremy Cutrer
Cutrer is an LSU commit and has the body that so many LSU defensive backs have with phenomenal length. His range to affect passing plays was impressive throughout the week and we’re excited to see what kind of impact he can have in the run game. Does LSU have another future All-American defensive back?
LB, Zach Cunningham
No prospect has seen his stock rise more late in the season than Cunningham. He’s a 6-4, 195-pounder who has film that makes defensive coaches salivate. Linebackers don’t really get to fully showcase themselves during the week so we’re anxious to see just how much Cunningham flashes.
OL, Rami Hammad
Hammad has probably been the highest riser among the offensive linemen based on his week of practice. The Baylor commit is powerful, athletic and plays with a chip on his shoulder. His battles on the line of scrimmage are going to be worth zeroing in on. Hammad is committed to Baylor.
DB, Anthony Averett
There isn’t any doubt about Averett when it comes to athletic ability. The Alabama commit is muscular, long and extremely natural in coverage. We want to get a better look at his physicality. Is he going to support the run with enthusiasm and tackle well? If so, Nick Saban may have another star.
QB, Malik Zaire
We love Malik Zaire’s playmaking ability and leadership qualities. He’ll do well in the game setting when the pocket breaks down and he can use his legs to make something happen. We’re more anxious to see what Zaire does in a clean pocket with his arm, an area that he struggled with at times during the week.