January 11, 2010

Breaking Down the Army All-American Bowl

SAN ANTONIO - Unlike years past future Oklahoma Sooners may not have made up a considerable portion of the U.S. Army All-American bowl roster but with commitments Tony Jefferson and Justin McCay Bob Stoops's bunch was certainly represented. With Oklahoma still recruiting the likes of Ego Ferguson, Seantrel Henderson, ackson Jeffcoat, Damien Robinson, and several others still talking to the Sooners it seems that the presence of Oklahoma was still felt in the Alamodome on Saturday.

While neither Jefferson nor McCay were starters in the game and lacked the marquee play of some Sooner recruits in past years both did a lot to answer some of the biggest questions some scouts have posed about each of them.

Coming into the game no one had a doubt about the way Jefferson plays the game of football as his violent brand of the sport is what had attracted offers from coast to coast. The question that many did feel still persisted was his ability to work in coverage.

Whether West head coach Jim Streety intended to give Jefferson a chance to address those doubts is highly unlikely but that doesn't change the reality that it's exactly what the San Antonio-area legend did. It should be noted that the four and five wide receiver sets being employed by the West squad, particularly in the second half, also put Jefferson in a lot of typical Big 12 coverage situations.

Also worthy of note is just how well Jefferson took to simply playing his assignment rather than trying to take the game over as he had so many times for his Chula Vista (Calif.) Eastlake team. Jefferson's long-strides had left many wondering whether he had the necessary quickness and lateral movement to excel as a pass defender.

As often as not Jefferson was left in man-to-man situations and did more than his share to help slow an East offense that was nothing short of anemic prior to the insertion of Dartmouth-bound Cole Marcoux in the fourth quarter. Even after Marcoux's emergence in the game Jefferson was strong in coverage and looked comfortable in space.

Much like Jefferson the question about McCay was in reference to whether he should be playing another position.

Questions have existed about McCay playing wide receiver since it became clear that the Sooners preferred to see the 6-foot-3, 210-pound prospect catch passes than chase running backs. Over the week McCay showed glimpses of being a special wideout and in the game, in spite of an erratic passing game he made a tough catch in spite of a big hit after a high throw and another catch that was called off due to a penalty.

However, it was the called-off catch late in the fourth quarter that may have addressed the issues with McCay possessing the open-field abilities to play wide receiver. The Shawnee (Kan.) Bishop Miege prospect took a quick pass and after shaking the first defender he showed good burst up the field before being tackled just shy of a 20-yard gain.

Sooners Eye All-American Linemen

Aside from Oklahoma's two commitments the only targets for Sooner fans to watch were the group of four linemen.

Of course the focus throughout the week was on Saint Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall five-star offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson and while it looks like the Sooners are all but out of the race for the 6-foot-8, 330-pound man-mountain he more than held his own through the week and showed why he has been ranked as Rivals.com's top player for the entire year.

It will be interesting to see if he holds that spot going forward but his amazing size and ability to still move well in spite of it shows why he has such a bright future.

Perhaps the only player who looked anywhere close to Henderson's equal in physical presence is Olive Branch, Miss. four-star offensive tackle Damien Robinson. And while Robinson played far less than Henderson he also showed why he has such a high ranking.

He may not be quite the athlete that Henderson is but he does show flashes of being a quality right tackle in the future.

On the defensive side Jackson Jeffcoat sat out the week after suffering an apparent ankle injury with his Plano (Texas) West basketball team.

One defensive lineman who Oklahoma did get to have a look at was Ego Ferguson who at 6-foot-3, and 275-pounds looks like a defensive tackle-to be. The big lineman showed some real talent but there is a question that lingers about just where he'll play in the college game.

*Also on the sidelines were 2011 U.S. Army All-Americans and Sooner targets Aaron Green, Matthew Hegarty, and Trey Metoyer.

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