Another year brought another loaded group to to Orlando for the Under Armour All-America game. On Sunday, the players took the field for the first time, and defense was the name of the game.
Defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. was the star for the White ("Blur") team. The 6'3", 290-pound defender from Denton, Texas showed that he could play defensive end at his size. Edwards had a great burst off the edge, while still showing off his trademark power. And rumors swirled all day that the Florida State commitment would switch to the Texas Longhorns. He hasn't, yet, but it's certainly a situation to keep an eye on as the Longhorns have apparently made an enormous push in the last two weeks.
Not to be outdone, Chris Casher of Mobile (AL) Davidson also had an impressive day. Casher made opposing tackles look foolish from his defensive end position with a great spin move and an impressive first step. The 6'5" end told me he was up to 252 pounds. Despite missing his senior season because of the state's transfer rules, Casher doesn't appear to have missed a beat.
Other standouts for the White defensive line include Dante Fowler, jr. of Tampa (FSU commitment), Channing Ward of Mississippi (undecided), and Jonathan Taylor of Georgia (Georgia commitment). Taylor is very intriguing as a prospect. The 6'4" 315 pounder possesses excellent athleticism and power for his size, but is very raw. If Georgia's coaches can help Taylor to put his game together, they'll have a special player on their hands.
The offensive linemen being abused by the White defensive linemen are pretty good players in their own right. The problem? This group has a lot better guards than tackles. And when it comes to protecting the edge, guards don't always cut it.
Under Armour lists LSU commitment Vadal Alexander (Buford, Ga.), Florida commitment Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, Fl) and uncommitted prospect Joshua Garnett (Puyallup, Wa) at tackle. All three prospects are much more likely to succeed at guard at the next level. In fact, Dunker and Garnett looked very good when asked to play guard, both in team and individual segments. Dunker is very good when pulling, He sharply turns the corner and squares up the second-level defender. Garnett has good feel for the game and has a nice blend of balance and power.
That's not to say there aren't any tackles in this group. Alabama commitment Brandon Greene (Cedar Grove, Ga.) showed that he belonged on the edge. Greene is a solid Alabama commitment, but Georgia is not giving up. Greene has a nice build at 6'5" and 290 pound, with plenty of athleticism.