At Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, the West edged the East by a score of 17-14 in the inaugural edition of the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
The East started the scoring off, as QB Phillip Nelson (Minnesota verbal) hit one-time Buckeye target, WR JaQuay Williams (Auburn verbal) on a long score to put the East squad, wearing blue, up 7-0 early.
The West answered quickly and then some scoring the next two touchdowns in the first half to take a 14-7 lead. On the first of those scores, QB Jeff Lindquist (Washington verbal) connected with uncommitted prospect WR Jaydon Mickens on a score. For the second touchdown, Lindquist once again got a score through the air, this time hitting WR Kendrius Whitehead, also uncommitted to put the West squad ahead.
After a long return to the West 30 yard line, the East squad went back to work with a little over a minute remaining in the half. QB Nick Patti (Boise State verbal) of Dr. Phillips High School in Florida worked some magic in tying the game up at 14-14, as he tossed a pass on the run to TE Maxx Williams (Minnesota verbal) in the back of the end zone to leave the East team all knotted up heading into the half.
The third quarter came and went, with a combination of stellar defense and some poor offense contributing to a scoreless period. Still remaining tied at 14-14, you could tell that the offensive units weren't playing as one cohesive group, something they are not expected to be considering they only have a week or so of practice together. This is the main reason why in combines and events like this that the defensive players usually shine, as it is easier for them to make more natural plays as individuals than it is for an offensive player.
The fourth quarter was much of the same with very little scoring during a good part of the frame. Finally, the West drove down to the East 30 yard line and faced a fourth down, deciding to trot kicker Marshall Morgan (Georgia verbal) onto the field. The future Bulldog drilled the 47 yard attempt through the middle of the uprights to give the West a 17-14 lead.
The East made another valiant effort, with QB Wes Lunt (Oklahoma State verbal) leading the charge in a comeback drive down the field. It looked like Lunt was going to have mission accomplished, but DB Deontay Greenberry (Notre Dame verbal) had something to say, intercepting a pass deep in West territory to seal the deal and end the game in his team's favor.
The Buckeyes had five recruiting targets playing in the game, including OL Jordan Diamond, LB Camren Williams, and DB Demetrious Cox of the East, as well as DB Bam Bradley and OL Alex Kozan of the West.
Looking first at Diamond, he played both tackle positions and both guard positions throughout the game, showing versatility that may be needed at the college level. I thought he looked best on the outside at tackle, but if the chance to see the field first comes at guard, he showed he was definitely capable of playing the position as well. I thought he could do a better job of the hustle plays after the initial hits on the line and getting to the second level, but Diamond definitely lived up to his billing as one of the top tackles in the country and the Buckeyes would be lucky to have him. He will decide on Signing Day between OSU, Wisconsin, Auburn, Michigan, and Arkansas.
Williams was an absolute monster at linebacker and was constantly making plays throughout the game. He was extremely impressive in pursuit of the run, but what is scary is that he looked even more fluid in defending the pass. Williams has great instincts and athleticism and you can now see why Urban Meyer is in such hot pursuit of the Massachusetts native. Williams is currently a soft verbal to Penn State and will decide between the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes after PSU names a head coach and he takes his official visit to Happy Valley and an unofficial visit to Columbus.
Cox started in the secondary at safety for the East and had an up and down night. Against the run he looked fantastic, closing quickly in pursuit of the runner and wrapping-up and driving the ball carrier with great force. On the other hand, against the pass, Cox looked lost at times and needs to work on that part of his game before he gets to the next level. He will choose between OSU, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Pitt, and Notre Dame. I don't expect the Buckeyes to win this one, but there is definitely still some time left.
Bradley didn't play much in the first half for reasons not known, but came in the second half with a bang, making a couple good hits against both the run and the pass. Bam looked to be the real deal, and reminded me a lot of Jermale Hines while he was at Ohio State. Many think Bradley could outgrow the safety position, so a move to the STAR position if he comes to OSU is not out of the picture. Bam is down to the Buckeyes, Stanford, Pitt, and Michigan State, and delayed his announcement from this game to later in January to take a visit to East Lansing and take a bit more time on his college choice.
Finally, Kozan looked very good at his more natural position of guard, after playing his high school career at tackle. He showed great ability to excel at that spot against both the run and the pass at the next level and I believe that is where he will play next year. It was rumored he was supposed to originally commit to Ohio State at the game, but was told to hold off by Meyer and the staff, as they want to see how things shake out in the numbers game. I think Kozan wants to come to OSU, but he will get shut out of this class and instead choose one of his other suitors including Iowa, Oklahoma, LSU, Auburn, Michigan, and others.