LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The sixth annual Under Armour All-America Game is Friday in St. Petersburg, Fla., and practice for the weeklong event begins Monday at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex.
Can Robert Nkemdiche have a dominant week?
As usual, this game will feature top prospects from throughout the country, including No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche. There are many storylines this week in the Sunshine State, and here are five worth following, according to 247Sports analysts Chris Nee and Keith Niebuhr.
1. Nkemdiche on full display
Nkemdiche, the five-star defensive end from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson, has been the top-ranked prospect for the 2013 class since initial rankings were unveiled many months ago. As is always the case with rankings, there has been debate surrounding whether or not he is the runaway player for the top spot or if others such as Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County defensive tackle Montravius Adams, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline five-star quarterback Max Browne, or someone else should be considered for the No. 1 position.
Starting on Monday, that debate could heat up and continue through the end of the week. Nkemdiche will compete against some of the best prospects from around the nation through three practices at Disney and the game itself. He will silence his doubters with a dominating performance or crack the door for someone to make a move if he leaves people wanting more.
The Under Armour event marks the first time Nkemdiche has competed in a competitive setting such as this since well before his senior season. Unlike most of the country's top prospects, he did not compete over the summer in either The Opening or the Rivals Five-star Challenge.
How will Nkemdiche fare against elite high school offensive linemen?
Nkemdiche, who played at a heavier weight in 2012 than in the past, had a solid senior season but in truth was not as dominant as many thought he would be entering the year.
2. Host state representing
Will Tony Conner pick Alabama or Ole Miss?
A total of 21 prospects from the Sunshine State will take part in the Under Armour All-America Game. Out of the 20 highest-ranked players in the 247Sports.com rankings, 12 of them will be taking part in the weeklong event in their home state.
Some of the top-tier names include Tampa (Fla.) Wharton five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas, and Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Day five-star running back Kelvin Taylor.
Continuing the theme of ties to the Sunshine State, the Florida Gators have seven commits in the game. Six of them hail from Florida.
3. Decision time
As is always the case with all-star events, prospects will make their future college intentions known. As many as 10 prospects could announce at the game.
On this list are Batesville (Miss.) South Panola five-star defensive back Tony Conner, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood four-star safety Leon McQuay III, Jackson (La.) East Feliciana four-star defensive end Kendell Beckwith, Mission Viejo (Calif.) four-star safety Max Redfield, Pomfret (Md.) McDonough four-star offensive lineman Na’Ty Rodgers, Cocoa (Fla.), four-star running back Tarean Folston, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Jefferson three-star defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School two-way three-star lineman Maquedius Bain. Rockingham (N.C.) Richmond four-star offensive guard Tyrone Crowder and Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett four-star linebacker Trey Johnson also could make their selections.
One prospect who was expected to announce at the game but has now decided to slow things down is Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos De Niza five-star cornerback Priest Willis. Willis may narrow his list of seven finalists to a shorter list of suitors at the event.
4. The QB competition
How will Cooper Bateman stack up with the other quarterbacks?
The quarterback group this week will be solid, but all-star games are extremely tough for signal callers. There is so much to learn in such a short period of time. Grasping the offense is one thing. Getting the timing right with the receivers is another. There are numerous other issues that make things difficult.
But if anyone can cut it, it might be the players on hand this week.
Christian Hackenberg of Fork Union Military (Va.) is the highest-ranked quarterback at this event. He's No. 2 nationally among pro-style passers. The Nos. 3-6 pro-style quarterbacks -- Shane Morris of Warren (Mich) De La Salle Collegiate, Kevin Olsen of Wayne Hills (N.J.), Brice Ramsey of Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County and Cooper Bateman of Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood -- also are here.
Will Hackenberg hold off the others in the rankings? And could he or another quarterback in this event challenge Max Browne (who's competing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl) for the top spot?
5. Battle in the trenches
This game has featured some impressive matchups on the interior in past years, both in practice and during the game itself.
This year's event should be more of the same.
Looking at the defensive line, you have the No. 1 overall prospect [Nkemdiche], No 2 prospect/No. 1 defensive tackle [Adams] and No. 1 weak-side end [Carl Lawson of Georgia] taking part. All told, there are four five-star defensive linemen on hand when you include end Chris Jones of Houston (Miss.).
Five-star tackle Dorian Johnson of Belle Vernon (Pa.) is the highest-ranked offensive lineman on hand.
Of this group, Adams might be the one to watch. Playing against small-school competition, the 6-feet-4, 300-pounder has been simply dominant during his high school career. This will be his first major test against high-level competition. Adams' upside is off the charts, and he believes he is the country's best prospect. This is his chance to prove it.
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