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December 30, 2012
Ten things to watch at the Under Armour game
The Under Armour All-America Game is set to kick off on ESPN on Jan. 4 in Orlando, Fla., and some of the top high school talent in the country will be taking the field. Rivals.com Southeast recruiting analyst Woody Wommack breaks down the 10 things he's looking forward to seeing during the week of practices and the games, as players begin to arrive on Sunday.
1. Nkemdiche vs. Lawson
Robert Nkemdiche has held onto the No. 1 overall spot in the Rivals rankings all year, but fellow Atlanta-area star Carl Lawson has been steadily climbing, recently settling in at the No. 2 spot. Nkemdiche has shied away from the camp and combine scene in the recent past, so this week will be the first chance to see the two side-by-side in quite some time.
If Lawson continues to build on his impressive senior season with a dominant Under Armour performance, he has the ability to leapfrog into the No. 1 spot. Conversely, Nkemdiche will get his chance to remind us all why he's been No. 1 all along.
2. Hargreaves vs. Treadwell
It took a little while for Laquon Treadwell to establish himself as the clear No. 1 wide receiver, but just because he's a newly minted five-star, it doesn't mean things will get any easier for him. During Friday's game he'll likely go head-to-head with Vernon Hargreaves III, who has been in a battle with Kendall Fuller for the top cornerback spot in the country for most of the 2013 cycle. Treadwell has a chance to distance himself with a good showing against Hargreaves, but it won't be easy. The last time VHIII was in Orlando at Gridiron Kings, he had a very good week that helped him move into the top 10 in the country.
3. Is Morris back to form?
Shane Morris earned his fifth star in August, but had little time to back up the honor after coming down ill with mononucleosis and missing the majority of his senior season. Rather than punish him for getting sick, the Rivals.com ranking team decided to see how he bounces back in Orlando. The game will be important, but Morris needs to show the same stuff he did during the summer if he's going to keep his fifth star going forward.
4. Hawaiian questions
With distance being an issue and questions about the level of competition, it can often be tough to get an accurate gauge on some of the talent from the Hawaiian Islands. Isaac Savaiinaea (three-star ILB) and Kennedy Tulimasealii (two-star DT) will get a chance to show that they can compete with the best. If all goes well, both will have a chance to move up in the next round of rankings.
5. More QB questions
Morris isn't the only one with something to prove at the quarterback position. Christian Hackenberg has been at or near the top of his class for some time and he'll be looking to show that he is the No. 1 QB in the 2013 class. Turnovers have been a problem for Hackenberg at showcase events in the past, but if he can take care of the ball, look for him to be in a good position going forward. Alabama commit Cooper Bateman has steadily fallen since the initial rankings were released and he'll be looking to rebound, while Zach Greenlee will be out to prove that he should be mentioned with Morris and Hackenberg.
6. Can Alabama keep Foster?
Despite his recent pledge to Alabama, there are still plenty of people who think that Pittsburgh has a very good shot of landing in-state stud wide receiver Robert Foster. This week will be the first time since committing that Foster has to face questions about just how firm he is to the Tide and whether the Panthers are still in the conversation. I'll be listening very closely to what Foster has to say.
7. Will Bosa get lost?
With all the talk about Nkemdiche and Lawson, it's easy to forget about Joey Bosa. But the 6-foot-5, 270-pounder will do his best to remind everyone why he's knocking on the five-star door. I'm interested to see if he can show that he's just as nasty as the aforementioned five-stars coming off the edge and rises to the occasion, or gets lost in the shuffle of alpha dogs.
8. Will Adams pass Bigelow?
They may be at opposite ends of the Gulf of Mexico, but Montravius Adams and Kenny Bigelow will go head-to-head this week. Adams had a very good season while leading his team on a deep playoff run and he'll be looking to carry that momentum into Orlando. How he plays during the week in Orlando and Bigelow performs at the Army Game in San Antonio could set the stage for a lengthy discussion in the next rankings meeting.
9. Battle of the safeties
Max Redfield saw his brilliant senior season elevate him for to five-star status and Under Armour will be his first chance to go head-to-head with another five-star safety. Leon McQuay III has long been in the discussion as the top safety in the country (along with current No. 1 Su'a Cravens, who is in San Antonio this week) and I'm interested to see how Redfield handles the pressure of being a five-star. It will also be interesting to watch how McQuay will respond to being evaluated next to another elite-level safety.
10. What about the O-line?
With all the take of the defensive line, it doesn't figure to be an easy week for the offensive linemen in Orlando. There's no doubt there's more depth on the defensive side of the ball, but Notre Dame commit Hunter Bivin and FSU commit Ira Denson will be looking to show in practices and in the games that they're capable of holding back the next generation of elite defensive linemen.