OPINION: UA Top Players by Pos. (Offense)
Xavier Su'a-Filo
Xavier Su'a-Filo

Posted Jan 5, 2009


Several members of the Scout.com recruiting team spent the entire week together in Orlando watching all the action leading up to the Under Armour All-American Game on Sunday night. Here's a breakdown of who I thought stood out the most at each position and why.

The entire nation of college football fans had a chance to watch the Under Armour All-American Game on TV Sunday night but the Scout.com recruiting team had a chance to watch every single practice, every single skills challenge competition, and spend a lot of time around the players in Orlando all week. It gave us a much different perspective on things and a great way to evaluate all the players up close and in person. Having said that, here's who I thought was the top player at each position:

Quarterback: Matt Barkley -- While I thought Garrett Gilbert had the edge after the first few days of practice, Barkley settled down after a slow start to finish strong. When he started getting most of the reps for WHITE in practice, he started to really shine. Like all the quarterbacks, he had trouble finding a rhythm with his receivers during the week but showed the biggest upside. In the skills competition, he was throwing darts all over the field and out-threw everyone else by a longshot. He has the physical tools and showed in Sunday's game that he's a gamer. He did an excellent job of getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers and that's what he'll be expected to do when this five-star quarterbacks shows up at USC.

Running Back: Trent Richardson -- I made several comments during the week that it's very tough for big backs to shine in settings like these. Someone like Richardson, who makes a living going between the tackles and running downhill, is going to have a difficult time showcasing his skills because of how little the running backs are used during the game and how the practices were set up (lots of 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 stuff that put much more of an emphasis on the pass-catching skills of the backs). Still, Richardson was able to adjust and actually ended up having the best week of all the backs in terms of catching the ball out of the backfield. He was giving five-star LB Manti Te'o some trouble during the week when catching balls out of the backfield and while he didn't get many opportunities in the game itself, Richardson looked to have a tremendous blend of size and speed and while being considered the best inside runner of them all, he proved he was probably the best pass-catcher of them all as well. The five-star commitment is committed to Alabama.

Wide Receiver: Andre Debose -- While Duron Carter proved to everyone there that he's very underrated, the most impressive prospect from start to finish was Debose. The five-star Florida commitment was the game's most explosive player throughout the week and while he might not have the size of a Marlon Brown or the route-running skills of a Carter, he is a major threat every time he touches the ball. He showed that in the game, turning his only catch into a 92-yard touchdown when he caught a ball over five-star corner Branden Smith and out-ran safety Stephon Gilmore to the endzone. If there's a more explosive wide receiver prospect in America, I'd like to see him because Debose was clearly the most explosive of all the receivers at this game.

Tight End: (WR) Morrell Presley -- All four of the tight ends in this game were used primarily as blockers during the week. Even during practices, very rarely were the tight ends thrown to. Jordan Najvar was the most productive of the four in practice while Ra'Shede Hageman was probably the most athletic. However, Presley looks like a big time pass-catching tight end prospect. He's a big kid who runs extremely well for his size and reminded me a lot of Orson Charles, who I had a chance to watch several times this past year from Tampa. The five-star UCLA commitment played receiver in this game but will most likely play tight end in college and looks like a future star there, based on his size, speed, hands, athletic ability, and production at the receiver position throughout the week in practice.

Offensive Lineman: Xavier Su'a-Filo -- Several of the offensive linemen were moved around quite a bit during the week in practice so that, coupled with how good both defensive lines were, made it tough to really develop a lot of consistency. The most consistent one, to me, was Su'a-Filo. He has a nice frame and while he still has some technique issues to work out, he plays hard, has some strength, and moves his feet very well for a big man. He was able to handle bull rushes, spin moves, speed rushes, you name it. While other offensive linemen struggled with at least one of those things, this four-star seemed to handle everything thrown at him, regardless of who it was coming from. Su'a-Filo has already visited USC and LSU and plans to see BYU and UCLA later this month.



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QB Matt Barkley (profile)
WR Andre Debose (profile)
TE Morrell Presley (profile)
RB Trent Richardson (profile)
OT Xavier Su'a-Filo (profile)
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