Whenever two all-star teams are pitted against each other, looking for minute advantages can seem a fool’s errand. Teams are still feeling out their component parts days even hours before kickoff. The disparity in talent level is extremely small. And, in some cases, trying to ascertain which players are even committed to competing is difficult.
All of that makes picking the team with an advantage in Thursday’s Under Armour All-America Game nearly impossible, though the rosters and practice performances may paint at least a bit of a picture.
While significant attention will be focused on both Team Flash and Team Ballaholics’ (Team Ball) allotted quarterbacks, the real edge may be found in the players who line up in front of them. And on both sides of the ball, Team Ball appears to have a notable edge.
Chosen 25 No. 1 recruit and Oregon signee Kayvon Thibodeaux anchors the Team Ball defensive line, and his explosiveness is virtually impossible to hold back. Just ask the guys he’s lined up against this week in practice. On the other side of the defensive line is top-five DE prospect Kevin Harris II, an Alabama signee, and future Sooner Joseph Wete will also be called upon to come after the quarterback. That’s a pretty intimidating group.
Inside those pass rushers is Mazi Smith, the No. 2-ranked defensive tackle (per ESPN) and Jaquaze Sorrells, who is No. 5 in the same ranking. The depth at defensive tackle may not be quite as jaw dropping on paper, but it’s significant nonetheless.
The offensive line presents as a similar story. ESPN’s No. 3 overall recruit, Chosen 25 player and Texas A&M offensive tackle signee Kenyon Green, is as close to an immovable object as you can get at the high school level. He lines up opposite Chosen 25 tackle Devontae Dobbs, a fellow top-10 overall prospect and offensive tackle, another top-100 overall offensive tackle in Jason Rodriguez and solid depth and talent along the interior. It’s a formidable group, and with the top pass rusher in the game on their own sideline, Team Ball will enter Thursday feeling good about protecting its quarterbacks and opening holes for the running game.
That may prove to be the difference in a game where the quarterback play could prove to be hit and miss. Both the pro-style and dual threat passers for Team Flash are more highly ranked than their opposite numbers for Team Ball, but Texas signee Roschon Johnson in particular has struggled for Team Flash in practices, per some scouts on the scene. Meanwhile, Bo Nix and Jayden Daniels, the top-two contenders for Team Ball, jumped out of the gate early in the week and were considered as the No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks on site at one point.
Naturally, that doesn’t mean they’ll perform that way come game time, just as the perceived advantage on the lines may not hold up, either. For now, from a distance, it’s enough to give Team Ball the edge before kickoff.