The Under Armour All-America Game is Thursday, featuring many of the nation’s best high school seniors. Here are five players to watch from Team Flash, coached by former NFL coach Steve Mariucci.
The other side: Players to watch from Team Ballaholics
Owen Pappoe: The Auburn signee wears No. 1, and he might just be the No. 1 most influential playmaker on the Team Flash roster. An outside linebacker with size, speed and ball instincts, Pappoe spent four years as a star at Georgia power Grayson High School (Loganville, Ga.). That followed a period when he was a breakout prospect while still in middle school. Now that he’s coming good on all his promise Pappoe is ready for the next phase in Auburn, starting shortly after one more run against the nation’s best in Orlando.
Noah Cain: One half of an unstoppable running back duo at IMG Academy, alongside Alabama signee Trey Sanders, Cain was sometimes overlooked at the Florida breeding ground of elite football recruits. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Texas native spent his first two season as a head-turning star at Denton (Texas) Guyer High School before rocking up at IMG, where he added significant muscle to his frame and continued to develop. While he’s not a Saquon Barkley-style blow your socks off back (yet), his style still feels perfectly suited for a James Franklin Penn State team, and he’ll be running against a defense that includes future LB teammate Brandon Smith and future Michigan DT Mazi Smith.
Nakobe Dean: The winner of the Butkus Award as the nation’s top high school linebacker, Dean is SEC-ready at 6-foot, 220 pounds, Dean was the top overall prospect in the state of Mississippi and is the rare linebacker recruit who could be expect to contribute right away, even at a powerhouse program like Georgia. While teammate Pappoe and opposing linebacker Smith were both ranked ahead of him in the national linebacker lists, that may only give him more motivation to shine for Team Flash.
Roschon Johnson: The latest addition to Tom Herman’s quarterback room at Texas, Johnson is the No. 2 ranked dual threat quarterback nationally, behind Spencer Rattler, who signed with archrival Oklahoma. At Port Neches-Groves (Texas) High School, Johnson was just about impossible to stop. As a junior, he once accounted for 10 touchdowns and 598 total yards … in a playoff game. An Elite 11 passer, Johnson was his district’s MVP as a sophomore, junior and senior. And now he gets to prove that despite playing for a (relatively) smaller school, Johnson still has the chops to excel at Texas.
Darnell Wright: The Huntington (W. Va.) High School offensive tackle is a head scratcher because no one seems to have a strong read on what he’s going to do. A top-five overall prospect in the ESPN 300, Wright is widely expected to pick either Alabama or Tennessee. If those two are his finalists, the Crimson Tide may have ample opportunities to make an impression during the lead up to the Under Armour Game; Wright will have just one teammate at the game committed to Tennessee and six who have pledged to Alabama. An added bonus: We may get to see at least some snaps with Wright matched up against No. 1 overall recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux. Yes, please!