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Recruiting News - 01/15/05 - General - Part II


Administrator Emeritus
<font color="#b90000">Saturday, January 15, 2005</font> Recruiting News - 01/15/05

The Scout.com Mock Draft - Scout (SuperPrep)

The Scout.com Mock Draft
By Jamie Newberg**National Recruiting Analyst
Date: Jan 14, 2005

On Friday night the Scout.com recruiting team broke down into four teams and selected players from U.S. Army All-American Bowl for their first annual mock draft. Who has the best recruiting class? Please judge for yourself.

The Scout.com recruiting experts got together on Friday night for the 1st annual mock draft for the U.S. All-American Bowl. We divided our scouts into four teams and had 16 rounds of selections based on the players that were selected for the game on Saturday. At the end, we provided one bonus pick to each team of a player that was not selected to play in this game.

Who had the best class among the four teams? Please vote here – Vote Here

Below is a list of round and round selections and at the bottom is a listing of each team’s selections.

Money Makers – Scott Kennedy and Miller Safrit
Team Slim Fast – Chris Fetters and Bob Lichtenfels
The Team with No Name – Jamie Newberg and Steve Ryan
The Producers – Chris Pool and Stacey Dean

1st Round
1) Mark Sanchez (QB)
(Money Makers) Miller – The best quarterback and player out here. He’s a big time player.
2) Ryan Perrilloux (QB)
(Slim Fast) Bob – To start a franchise you need a quarterback. Perrilloux is our guy.
3) Jonathan Crompton (QB)
(The Team with No Name) Jamie – We believe Jonathan is our guy
4) Fred Rouse (WR)
(The Producers) Chris - … because he is the best damn player here.
2nd Round
5) Martellus Bennett (TE)
(The Producers) Stacey - 6-7, 240 pound TE, he can split out wide as a TE… Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow combined.
6) Jonathan Stewart (RB)
(The Team with No Name) Steve - The best overall back in this camp… the best in the country… he’s the full package.
7) Patrick Turner (WR)
(Slim Fast) Bob - He impressed us all year long. He’s been the best WR all week long.
8) Demarcus Granger (DT)
(Money Makers) Scott - The best player at not a very deep position.
3rd Round
9) Reggie Smith (FS)
(Money Makers) Miller – Reggie is one of the best athletes out here overall.
10) Alex Boone (OL)
(Slim Fast) Bob – The number-one lineman on the East squad all week long.
11) Rey Maualuga (LB)
(The Team with No Name) Jamie – He’s the beast from Eureka… he’s an animal and we want that mentality on our team.
12) Demetrice Morley (DB)
(The Producers) Chris – He’s the top cornerback here and he’s from the 3-0-5.
4th Round
13) Kenny Phillips (S)
(The Producers) Chris - He’s the number one safety.
14) Brian Cushing (LB)
(The Team with No Name) Steve – He’s another animal… he’s a player hater and goes great with Maualuga.
15) DajLeon Farr (TE)
(Slim Fast) Bob – He’s the top tight end on the board and the No. 1 tight end in the nation.
16) Tony Moeaki (TE)
(Money Makers) Scott – We have our QB so we need a target with soft hands.
5th Round
17) Toney Baker (RB)
(Money Makers) Miller – We need a ground game and we are going with the East starting RB.
18) Jamario O’Neal (CB)
(Slim Fast) Bob – He’s fast, he can cover and can do it all.
19) Justin King (CB)
(The Team with No Name) Jamie – Tremendous cover corner with all the tools.
20) Dan Doering (OL)
(The Producers) Chris – He’s the biggest and one of the most powerful tackles here.
6th Round
21) Reggie Youngblood (OL)
(The Producers) Stacey - We now have our book-end tackles.
22) Eugene Monroe (OL)
(The Team with No Name) Steve – He’s the No. 1 OL in the country for a reason.
23) Melvin Alaeze (DE)
(Slim Fast) Bob - He’s just a great athlete with a long wing-span and he runs in the 4.7 range.
24) Michael Oher (OL)
(Money Makers) Miller – He’s one of the most versatile linemen here.
7th Round
25) Josh McNeil (OL)
(Money Makers) Scott – He’s the top center in the country and he’s had a great week.
26) Marcus Shavers (DE)
(Slim Fast) Fetters – 6-4, 260 and a great defensive end.
27) Marques Slocum (OL/DL)
(The Team with No Name) Jamie – One of the best big athletes here all week.
28) Ryan Reynolds (LB)
(The Producers) Stacey – He’s a stud and a playmaker.
8th Round
29) Rico McCoy (LB)
(The Producers) Chris – Rico’s a hitter and plays sideline to sideline.
30) Raymond Henderson (DE)
(The Team with No Name) Steve – Tremendous inside rusher.
31) Adam Myers- White (S)
(Slim Fast) Bob - He’s been very consistent all week.
32) Bryan Evans (CB)
(Money Makers) Miller – He’s got great size and speed.
9th Round
33) Ekom Udofia (DT)
(Money Makers) Scott – He’s the best guy on the board and now we have two dominating defensive tackles.
34) Jerrell Powe (DT)
(Slim Fast) Fetters – A big guy that is very quick.
35) Dace Richardson (OL)
(The Team with No Name) Steve – Size, speed, long arms… the ideal o-tackle.
36) Roy Miller (DT)
(The Producers) Stacey – Embodies work ethic on every play.
10th Round
37) Travis Beckum (LB/DE)
(The Producers) Chris – We think he can put his hand down and rush the quarterback.
38) Ndamukong Suh (DT/OL)
(The Team with No Name) Steve – Can play on either side of the ball and is very effective.
39) Chris Scott (OL)
(Slim Fast) Bob – He’s a lock-on bulldog that drives people in the dirt.
40) Derek Nicholson (LB)
(Money Makers) Miller – He’s instinctive and a great linebacker.
11th Round
41) Earl Heyman (DE)
(Money Makers) Scott – He quietly had a great week. He is all over the field.
42) Phillip Dillard (LB)
(Slim Fast) Fetters – Comes from a powerhouse program and is greatly under valued at this pick.
43) Kevin Thomas (CB)
(The Team with No Name) Jamie – I can’t believe that he’s still on the board. He’s the second best true cover guy in this game.
44) Jamaal Charles (RB)
(The Producers) Stacey – Patient runner, super acceleration.
12th Round
45) R. J. Jackson (RB)
(The Producers) Stacey – He’s a do it all back that can run and catch.
46) DeSean Jackson (WR)
(The Team with No Name) Steve – He’s not that big but he is a playmaker.
47) Aaron Lewis (DE)
(Slim Fast) Bob – A great kid with a high motor.
48) Trey Stross (WR)
(Money Makers) Miller – He’s the most underrated player here at this position.
13th Round
49) David Nelson (WR)
(Money Makers) Scott – David is a tall and lean wide receiver that caught everything out here.
50) Marlon Lucky (RB)
(Slim Fast) Fetters – a blend of speed, power and elusiveness.
51) Leon Jackson (S)
(The Team with No Name) Jamie – He’s one of the best overall athletes in the country that can play RB, S and WR.
52) James McKinney (DT)
(The Producers) Chris – He will be a good D-tackle in college… can really stop the run.
14th Round
53) Jerome Hayes (LB)
(The Producers) Chris – He had a good week of practice and can run and cover.
54) Jason Gwaltney (RB)
(The Team with No Name) Steve – He’s powerful, fast and surprisingly elusive.
55) David Gettis (WR)
(Slim Fast) Fetters – A great playmaker that is rangy and quick.
56) Victor Harris (CB)
(Money Makers) Miller – the potential to be a big time corner.
15th Round
57) J.B. Paxson (DE)
(Money Makers) Scott – He’s highly rated and quick as anything and J.B. solidifies our DL.
58) Daniel Borg (OT)
(Slim Fast) Fetters – a shutdown OT with great feet and works well in space.
59) Eric Huggins (WR)
(The Team with No Name) Jamie – We got our big receiver to compliment the smaller and deadly DeSean Jackson.
60) Greg Paulus (QB)
(The Producers) Chris – Who cares if he is playing basketball for Duke.
16th Round
61) Michael Ray Garvin (CB)
(The Producers) Chris – He’s quick and boy can he cover.
62) Tyler Blum (DE/TE)
(The Team with No Name) Steve – Fills the need at three positions – OL, TE and DL.
63) Rashard Mendenhall (RB)
(Slim Fast) Bob – a great back that can catch out of the backfield.
64) Brandon Tatum (S)
(Money Makers) Scott – the frame of a LB and the cover skills of a S.
Bonus Pick (not from the game):
The Producers – Vince Oghobaase
Stacey – He’s your classic two-gap d-tackle with great size. He anchors extremely well against the double-team.
The Team with No Name – Callahan Bright (DT) Jamie – He’s the best player in America.
Slim Fast – Tray Blackmon (LB)
Bob – Top linebacker in America. He can move sideline to sideline and he hits like a truck.
The Money Makers – Darius Dewberry (LB)
Scott – He’s Karlos Dansby reincarnated.

Money Makers
Mark Sanchez (QB)
Toney Baker (RB)
David Nelson (WR)
Trey Stross (WR)
Tony Moeaki (TE)
Michael Oher (OL)
Josh McNeil (OL)
DeMarcus Granger (DT)
Ekom Udofia (DT)
Earl Heyman (DL)
J.B. Paxson (DE)
Derek Nicholson (LB)
Darius Dewberry (LB)
Bryan Evans (CB)
Victor Harris (CB)
Reggie Smith (FS)
Brandon Tatum (S)

Slim Fast
Ryan Perrilloux (QB)
Marlon Lucky (RB)
Rashard Mendenhall (RB)
Patrick Turner (WR)
David Gettis (WR)
DajLeon Farr (TE)
Alex Boone (OL)
Chris Scott (OL)
Daniel Borg (OL)
Jerrell Powe (DT)
Melvin Alaeze (DL)
Marcus Shavers (DL)
Aaron Lewis (DL)
Tray Blackmon (LB)
Phillip Dillard (LB)
Jamario O’Neal (CB)
Adam Meyers- White (S)

The Team with No Name
Jonathan Crompton (QB)
Jonathan Stewart (RB)
Jason Gwaltney (RB)
DeSean Jackson (WR)
Eric Huggins (WR)
Dace Richardson (OL)
Eugene Monroe (OL)
Marques Slocum (OL/DL)
Ndamukong Suh (OL/DL)
Callahan Bright (DT)
Raymond Henderson (DE)
Tyler Blum (DL/TE/OL)
Rey Maulauga(LB)
Brian Cushing (LB)
Justin King (CB)
Kevin Thomas (CB)
Leon Jackson (S)
The Producers
Greg Paulus (QB)
Fred Rouse (WR)
Jamaal Charles (RB)
R.J. Jackson (RB)
Martellus Bennett (TE)
Dan Doering (OL)
Reggie Youngblood (OL)
Roy Miller (DT)
Vince Oghobaase (DT)
Travis Beckum (DE/LB)
James McKinney (DL)
Ryan Reynolds (LB)
Rico McCoy (LB)
Jerome Hayes (LB)
Demetrice Morley (CB/S)
Michael Ray Garvin (CB)
Kenny Phillips (S)

From Street to Fame - Scout (SuperPrep)

From Street to Fame
By Bob Lichtenfels**Big East Recruiting Analyst
Date: Jan 14, 2005

SAN ANTONIO - Gunshots rang out and a young lady was lying dead on a street corner. An 18-year old man pulled the trigger and is now serving a 26-year state prison sentence.

The young man, who is now serving that sentence, is the best friend and next-door neighbor of U.S. Army All-American offensive lineman Marques Slocum. To most, this is a horrifying and graphic image. To Slocum and others who live in economically depressed areas like South Philadelphia (Pa.) this is just an ordinary day in the life.

Most football fans pay attention to the measurables; size, statistics, SAT scores, and GPA’s. Often left out of the picture is the day-to-day struggle for survival that some of these young men face on a everyday basis. Living in South Philly, Slocum is thankful that he wakes up every day. Marques sat down recently with Scout.com and he told us his story.

Street life is considered by most a taboo topic, saved for television or cinema. Stories like Slocum's - a true-life drama - are often swept under the carpet. Slocum is a 17-year old athlete who has battled the demons of gang-banging and drug dealing and has transformed himself into a 6-6 and 310-pound, D-1 football recruit with a possible professional career ahead of him.

But the odds were stacked against Marques ever since the cards were dealt. As a young teenager, Slocum grew up in a single parent household, living in a small house in the wrong part of town.

“My house is bad. When it rains, water comes in through every crack; my bed will be soaked,” Slocum said. “I’m a big guy and I have a small room; I can’t walk more then 3-steps to my left or my right. It could be worse. I could be outside living in a cardboard box. At least I have a roof over my head.”

Slocum’s mom works, takes classes, babysits, and does some hair styling on the side to make ends meet. Her main goal for the past twelve years has been to keep her son in private schools and away from the public school system.

“My mom always does for me before she does anything for herself,” Slocum said. “My mom walks around in torn up tennis shoes just to keep me in a Catholic school.”

Slocum would love to have the opportunity to live in a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood, complete with a roof that doesn't double as a sieve.

“My mom and her boyfriend are trying to get a loan to get us out of there,” Slocum said. “That’s what makes it tough, not to be out in the streets hustling. I could be out making money and helping out my family. I know my future is bright, and I’ll have an opportunity to help then.”

When Slocum was a young teenager, he lived that hustling lifestyle until Will Cooper entered his life. Cooper was an assistant football coach at Neumann High School. Cooper took Slocum under his wing and tried to lead him down the right path.

“I was hanging out on the corner until 5 AM doing God knows what, Slocum said. “Coach Cooper realized I had potential to be somebody, so he pulled me away from the ghetto. He got me to focus on my ability, and for me to realize I should use my size and athleticism to my advantage, to get a college scholarship."

Every day is a constant struggle for Slocum, a struggle that most teenagers don’t face. He has the old heads (elder gang-members) telling him that he’ll never amount to anything, that he should just give into his environment and do what they do, walk around with big wads of cash, nice clothes, and fancy cars.

“It's easy to say no, but try wearing the same pair of pants for a month straight or watching your family struggle," said Slocum. "It’s hard. I just keep telling myself I can have better.”

Slocum is focused on getting to college and helping out his family as soon as possible, not only to prove that he can play and make it to the NFL, but to also earn his college education.

“I want to get there and hopefully get my degree in about three and a half years. If I can get to the NFL and then finish school, I will do that,” Slocum said. “I don’t want to spend my life working at Burger King.

“There are a lot of kids in this game who have rough lives. They are just trying to get past this stage in their lives. Some of these kids don’t realize how good they have it.”

Academics are another issue for Slocum, who transferred from Neumann to West Catholic prior to his senior season. Slocum felt that if he did not leave, he had no shot of making it to college.

“Neumann told me I had a 2.5 GPA," he said. "After talking to colleges we found out I had a 1.8 core GPA. I’m taking a PSAT class right now and I think I’ll make it.”

According to Marques, college is the only option. He will not go to prep school or junior college. That has forced him to buckle down and make sure that he stays focused on his lone goal.

“Every day I wake-up and say, ‘I want to do something with my life,'" said Slocum. "I have a gift and I realize I would be wasting it if I don’t take advantage of it.”

Slocum is thankful that he has made the right decisions thus far in his life. “I know I’d be in the streets right now, if not dead.”

Marques' father left very early in his life and has recently tried to return.

“I guess he finally thinks I’m going to make something out of my life,” Slocum said. “He has come back and tried to give me money and stuff but it meant nothing to me.”

One lesson Slocum learned from his father is not to let an opportunity slip away, as he was also a standout athlete from the area.

“He used to do drugs right in front of me," Marques said. "What kind of dad does that to his son? He was a real good basketball player and he blew it all away.”

Slocum is sure of one thing; his first paycheck - if he is lucky enough to make into the NFL - is already spoken for.

“I’m going to buy my mom a new house and a new car," he said. "My Mom will never have a leaky roof again.”

Photos from Friday's Session at the Alamodome (James McKinney) - Scout (GBW)

PSU focuses on select few recruits (Walker Ashley) - Pann Live (Patriot News)

PSU focuses on select few recruits
Commitment list stands at 18
Sunday, January 16, 2005

Of The Patriot-News

After a busy December left its verbal commitments pushing 20, Penn State is focusing its recruiting strategy on a precious few with National Letter of Intent Day approaching Feb. 2.

One position the Nittany Lions are not recruiting is fullback, despite the loss of fifth-year senior Paul Jefferson to graduation.

PSU landed two top fullback recruits in last year's class and has another talented athlete, BranDon Snow, who likely will be moved from linebacker to fullback.

Snow has two years of eligibility remaining, and Long Island's Matt Hahn, a scaled-down version of the position at 215 pounds, has three years left after playing as a true freshman in 2004.

And don't forget about Cumberland Valley's Dan Lawlor, who will be a redshirt freshman after sitting out last season.

Lawlor, a 6-2, 245-pounder, was a key member of the Lions scout team but was limited by a back injury that required surgery Dec. 23 at Hershey Medical Center.

Lawlor's father, Jim, said the outpatient procedure required about 45 minutes. Dan Lawlor is expected to be at full strength after about six weeks of rehabilitation.

"Dan hurt himself early in the year, and it never got better," said Jim Lawlor, a Virginia Tech letterwinner who played for the Hokies from 1969-73.

"He could practice but he was only at about 80 percent, and there's a difference between the practice-field atmosphere and the playing-field atmosphere.

"The doctors decided on surgery. Dan had a disk that was pressing on a nerve, and because of it he had pain shooting down his leg.

"The doctor who operated told me things went very well, and he also said he thinks Dan will be faster as a result. He never really could stride with that thing bugging him."

The Lions' commitment list, unofficially, stands at 18 and includes four wideouts -- Maryland superstar Derrick Williams, James McDonald of Dunbar (D.C.), Virginia's Kevin Cousins and State College High School's Jordan Norwood, the son of safeties coach Brian Norwood.

PSU is believed to be pursuing at least one more wideout -- Virginia's Todd Nolen, who is also rumored to be considering Nebraska and North Carolina.

Nolen is expected to visit State College next weekend, and the Lions were anticipating a visit from defensive lineman Walker Ashley this weekend.

Ashley, a 6-4, 285-pounder from Minnesota, is the son of former PSU great Walker Lee Ashley. The younger Ashley will choose among PSU, Minnesota, Ohio State and USC.

The 2005 class features two tight end commitments in Canada's Francis Claude and Connecticut's Brennan Coakley, but a third tight end, North Carolina's Jordan Hannah, is also in PSU's cross-hairs.

Hannah, a 6-5, 260-pounder with 4.8 speed in the 40-yard dash, is viewed as a better prospect. Florida State, North Carolina and N.C. State are after him.

Another prospect the Lions covet is Oklahoma safety Reggie Smith. But Smith recently announced his top three are Nebraska, Oklahoma and USC, with PSU a distant fourth.

Smith, a 6-1, 195-pounder being recruited by Norwood, is expected to announce his choice by the end of the month.

BOB FLOUNDERS: 255-8181 or [email protected]

Noles Prospects Shine in All-American Game - Scout

Noles Prospects Shine in All-American Game
By Dave Peters**
Date: Jan 15, 2005

There were only a hand full of Army All-American prospects that were seriously considering the Noles. However, the ones that were really stood out this Saturday afternoon in the Alamo Dome, including wide receiver Fred Rouse, linebacker Derek Nicholson, and cornerback Korey Mangum. Also, Michael Ray Garvin made a mark by playing both offense and defense.

The talk around the east practices all week long was that Winston Salem (NC) Mt. Tabor linebacker Derek Nicholson was the third best player at his postion behind Brian Cushing and Rico McCoy. However, when the ball was kicked off, Nicholson was a mission to show the country that he is indeed the top dog and that’s exactly what he did. In the first half alone the 6-foot-0 and 228 pound All-American recorded five tackles and two quarterback pressures by using his incredible instincts. Nicholson is playing his recruitment close to the vest but many insiders believe that he’ll be joining his older brother (A.J.) in Tallahassee next fall. Next week, he will officially visit Miami and he’ll thentrip to Florida State on (1/28). In his career, Nicholson recorded well over 500 tackles.

Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln wide receiver Fred Rouse is Scout.com’s No. rated player in the country. The 6-foot-1 and 215 five-star prospect lived up to his hype by catching six passes for approximately 60 yards receiving. All week long Rouse has been very entertaining off and on the field. He is blessed with outstanding enthusiasm and leadership qualities. Rouse, who was very much liked by his East teammates, will most likely select among Florida State, Texas, and Miami. The buzz going around San Antonio is that the Garnet & Gold are the team to beat for his services. Rouse will visit Miami on (1/21) and Florida State on (1/28).

La Marque (TX) defensive back Korey Mangum was one of the most underrated players on the West team and he made a lot of noise all week long. The 5-foot-11 and 185 pound standout will choose among Florida State, Kansas and TCU. Mangum, who is the cousin and teammate of Florida State commitment Russell Ball, will officially visit the Seminoles on (1/28).

Upper Saddle (NJ) Don Bosco is the home of Florida State commitment Michael Ray Garvin. The 5-foot-9 and 180 pound four-star standout played both offense and defensive in the game. However, he projects as a cornerback in college. On Saturday afternoon Garvin recorded a tackle and pass broken up. In his senior year, he recorded 60 tackles and three interceptions. On offense, he rushed for over 1,600 yards and 34 touchdowns.

Other players in the game considering Florida State are quarterback Ryan Perrilloux (1/21) of Reserve (LA) East St. John, cornerback Brian Evans (1/28) of Jacksonville (Fla.) Ed White and safety Kenny Phillips (1/28) of Miami (Fla.) Carol City.

It's a different world in another state for Gwaltney - NY News Day

It's a different world in another state for Gwaltney
Gwaltney, 77 fellow senior stars discover tougher competition and adulation as they converge in Texas

By Chuck Culpepper
Staff Correspondent

Posted January 16, 2005

SAN ANTONIO -- -- Playing in five of the East's 13 futile offensive series yesterday, North Babylon High running back Jason Gwaltney gained 35 yards on eight carries in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl before a closing 17-yard loss-andfumble left him at nine for 18.

By East team standards, he flourished.

The East offense barely budged against the fast West defense -- 10 first downs, 14 net rushing yards, 93 total yards -- in the fifth annual game inviting 78 national all-stars. The West won, 35-3, at the Alamodome.

"If it was up to us, we'd have run straight at 'em and played it like a real football game," Gwaltney said. "But it's not like we're playing for a championship. We're just out there to have fun."

Run-wise, he referred specifically to a third-quarter sequence in which Gwaltney, operating next to upstate New York quarterback Greg Paulus in the East's one-back, shotgun formation, quickly reeled off gains of 10 and 4 yards and almost dragged two tacklers to a first down on fourth-and-1.

Among the East's three main running backs, he had the two longest runs from scrimmage (10 and 8 yards). He hoped his stock rose, given his quickness plus other talents demonstrated during spirited special-teams chores.

"I didn't get the touches I'll get in college," he said, "but I felt I proved something. I can run, tackle, block. I ran a couple of big kids over, showed I could pass-block."

He had a 6-yard reception, and on kickoff-return defense, he made a tackle plus a flattening of a West player that made the crowd take notice.

Having felt comfortable amid game speed ratcheted upward from high school pace, he called his week away from home "definitely" a success and said his next big day will come Wednesday.

That's when he'll announce his college destination -- West Virginia, Southern California or Ohio State. "On ESPN," he said.

In a memorable sidelight, the game's eventual Most Valuable Player, receiver DeSean Jackson of Long Beach, Calif., lent the 30,305 spectators a conversation piece -- with a gaffe.

After catching a first-quarter pass from Jim Barnes and streaking down the left sideline to make it a 52-yarder, Jackson, unthreatened, attempted to somersault into the end zone and left the football inadvertently downed at the 1-yard line. He got a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty, but the West scored on the next play. Jackson caught seven passes for 141 yards and threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Ryan Perrilloux of Reserve, La.

Gwaltney will surprise some - NY News Day

Gwaltney will surprise some

January 15, 2005
SAN ANTONIO - That very big fish from North Babylon High, Jason Gwaltney, will start representing the allegedly smallish high school football pond of New York on Saturday afternoon in the Alamodome.

Among 78 high school senior standouts from 31 states and Washington, D.C. - including 28 from football havens California, Texas, and Florida - Gwaltney will enter the fifth U.S. Army All-American Bowl at running back for the East team's second offensive series. He figures to play about every other series thereafter.

"This is the real deal, man," said Gwaltney, 17. "It's like a bowl game."

His explosive, punishing 230 pounds also might help him make it somewhat of a regional showcase. He joins three other New York players in the game, two from upstate plus receiver Nyan Boateng from Brooklyn's Lincoln High.

"Well, you know, I asked him earlier, I said, 'Do they have grass up there for y'all to play on?'" joshed linebacker Derek Nicholson of Winston-Salem, N.C. "I wasn't sure."

"I never knew New York really put out football players," said receiver Patrick Turner of Nashville, Tenn., a new Gwaltney chum. "I'm used to New York playing basketball and that only."

"That's what he can do here, to show that New York can play football," said Gwaltney's uncle, Alvin Toney, omnipresent in San Antonio alongside Jason's father, Richard Berry, and another uncle, Matthew Wellington.

As the second Long Island player selected for this game - the first was offensive lineman Alex Fletcher of St. Anthony's (now at Stanford) in 2004 - Gwaltney has brought his 7,800 rushing yards and his 135 touchdowns to a setting where those numbers seem somehow normal, while seeming anything but (normal) in two-a-day practice sessions.

"Oh, he surprised me, man," Boateng said. "He surprised me a lot. I think he's the biggest running back in the country. In practice [Tuesday], he ran everybody over. He wasn't, like, highly ranked until after senior year, so a lot of these kids, they didn't even know who he was.
"He just made plays."

Gwaltney will not announce where he'll make plays in college, but in a newfangled tradition, roughly 20 players will, during the game, in a predetermined announcement sequence, well ahead of the Feb. 2 signing day.

Coming in, Gwaltney had whittled his choices to Southern California, Ohio State and West Virginia (where he previously orally committed). Count Boateng among today's newsmakers as he selects either Nebraska, Florida or Michigan.

Other already-decided players know about headlines, including USC-bound Mark Sanchez, the 6-3 Mission Viejo, Calif., quarterback who said of USC's dazzling, 55-19 Orange Bowl win, "Oh, wow."

Iowa-bound defensive end Tyler Blum of Walnut, Iowa, who will become the first player from an eight-man high school team to appear in the game, said of 11-man practice, "I really didn't think it was that much different."

Renowned Texas-bound quarterback Ryan Perrilloux of Laplace, La., said of Texas: "They love me down here. They know about me down here like Louisiana."

And in another sidelight, small hordes of fans in Nebraska red have congregated around the players' hotel, preparing to cheer on their university's six ironclad commitments while hoping for fresh converts such as Boateng.

"I always hear, 'I didn't know y'all play football in New York,'" Boateng said. "I always laugh. I never say anything. All I tell 'em is, 'Come get on the field and come cover me.' They say, 'I'm from Florida, so I'm super-good.' Most of these kids are not even that good."
1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 4
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