SAN ANTONIO, Texas- The first East practice of the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl featured stellar showings by a pair of elite defensive tackles and two running backs committed to Georgia, among others. One of those defensive tackles tops our Top 11 from the session.
Valentine moved very well for a player with his size.
1- Travonte Valentine, DT, Miami (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic
The Miami commitment (who also is looking at LSU) showed dominant streaks at times and was a handful to block. He measured in upon arrival at nearly 6-foot-3 and 338 pounds, but can flat-out move for a prospect his size. It appeared he showed up with something to prove for sure, but regardless of effort level, guys his size simply don’t move like this and don’t have the quickness he does if they aren’t elite prospects at defensive tackle. If the Canes hold on to him (he said Sunday he was firm, but there is definite smoke where the Tigers are concerned), he could be a starter very, very soon in Coral Gables.
2- Josh Malone, WR, Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp
Malone, who is committed to Tennessee, was a notch above the other East receivers. Given his size, speed and hands combination, Vols fans have to be excited over seeing Malone pair with this year’s tall, freshman receiver Marquez North starting this spring. The 6-foot-2, 191-pound Malone is such a physically-gifted player, provided he picks up the offensive system quickly, he could see plenty of snaps in 2014 in the Southeastern Conference for Tennessee.
3- Matt Elam, DT, Elizabethtown (Ky.) Hardin
Elam is everything we thought he would be- a massive 6-foot-4, 372-pound defensive tackle with elite athleticism. Like Valentine, he was a difficult matchup most of the day for the East interior offensive linemen. Elam is uncommitted- down to Alabama and Kentucky- with the in-state Wildcats trending.
4- Nick Chubb, RB, Cedartown (Ga.)
The 5-foot-11, 223-pound Chubb has a compact build, excellent burst and great vision. The East is loaded at running back and he’s one of two Georgia commits that were among the best overall performers on Monday. Chubb has special ability and it’s going to be exciting to see what he does in the game with full contact and tackling- chances are even with his outstanding natural ability and athleticism, the ability to break tackles will be one of the superior assets he showcases Saturday.
Sony Michel showed good burst on Monday.
5- Dante Booker, LB, Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary They don’t look much better than Booker when you are talking about linebackers. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound, long-armed Ohio State commit is as fluid as they come and has excellent instincts. Rated as a five-star prospect by 247Sports, he was everything we thought he would be and we expect him to continue to be one of the top prospects here as the week moves forward. Ohio State has an excellent group of commits and
6- Sony Michel, RB, Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage
We’ve been watching this guy since his eighth grade year and at one point, there was some concern that the Georgia commit did not quite have the speed he once did. During Monday’s practice session, he had the best burst of the three talented backs on the East roster (Chubb and UNC commit Elijah Hood were the others). If Chubb is the next Todd Gurley at UGA, then the 5-foot-11, 207-pound Michel is the next Keith Marshall as the Dawgs figure to continue a “thunder and lightning” combination in the offensive backfield for many seasons to come.
7- Bentley Spain, OT, Charlotte (N.C.)
Spain was the most consistent pure offensive tackle prospect on the East and every time we looked up, the North Carolina commit was doing something outstanding. He’s got excellent feet and athleticism and hasn’t even scratched the surface in terms of his frame.
8- Malkom Parrish, CB, Quitman (Ga.) Brooks County
The third Georgia commit top make the East Top 11- the 5-foot-9, 186-pounder is small, but closes well, is fearless with a short memory and has excellent hips. Several analysts here at 247Sports believed he would be a definite “stock up” performer this week and based on the first day of practice, they may very well be correct.
9- Todd Kelly, S, Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb School
Kelly showed outstanding range at free safety, displaying excellent instincts in breaking up a couple of long passes. He’s an excellent athlete that is almost 6 feet tall and 190 pounds. The Tennessee commit and legacy has a chance to make a very early impact for the Vols next season. It would not surprise at all to see him earn a starting position at some point barring injury.
10- Mason Cole, OT/OG, Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake
Elam got the best of Cole on the interior a couple of times early, but as the day moved forward, it was clear that the Michigan commit was one of the most polished and skilled offensive line prospects on the East squad. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Cole projects as an offensive guard long-term, but we aren’t so sure he could not be an excellent tackle in Ann Arbor during his college career. That’s really the only question (other than the normal fill out your frame type stuff that’s imperative for offensive line prospects) surrounding his game at this time- which position on the line will he play?
11- Bryson Allen-Williams, LB, Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove
The South Carolina commit showed outstanding lateral ability and showed a desire to be coached (i.e. excellent attitude) and hustle during the day, drawing the praise of many of his teammates during the session. Allen-Williams played with his hand down at defensive end during his junior season, but showed no issues playing in space or moving laterally during Monday’s session. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Allen-Williams will compete for time next season in Columbia with what already is a fairly talented young linebacking corps, led by 247Sports second team Freshman All-American Skai Moore. One recruiting note here- Allen-Williams still plans to visit Alabama officially on the weekend of Jan. 24. That being said, if his visit to South Carolina the preceding weekend is exceptional, he may not end up taking the trip to Tuscaloosa when all is said and done.
The 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday from the Alamodome with live television from NBC.