There was plenty of hype, seemingly nonstop, surrounding the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl on Jan. 16 at Jacksonville Jaguars’ EverBank Field. Particularly so considering the showdown was the region’s first ever of its kind.
The game lived up to the advanced billing too as NFL veteran Jeff Kopp and his staff of one-time professional peers guided the Grey over the Blue, 28-14, in a game featuring the nation’s top prep prospects in the Class of 2016.
Middle Tennessee State commit Will Mitchell started things off the right way and took back the opening kickoff for a 104-yard score to give the Grey an early 7-0 lead. Before the players on the Blue had a chance to blink, they trailed.
Not to be outdone, Florida commit Rick Wells from scored on a 35-yard pass from Big Sky Conference target Devon Mueller to extend the advantage to 14-0 at the start of the second quarter. It happened faster than expected.
Then, when things appeared as if they could not get any worse, Mueller connected with ACC target Kee Whetzel on a 66-yard touchdown pass for a 21-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Safe to say, the Grey appeared to be in control.
Behind the NFL veteran coaching of Dick Bell and offensive line of Illinois commit Devon Robinson, San Diego State commit Kevin Staton and Big 10 Conference targets Ostell Martin, Bryce Brown and Minsok Lee, the Blue developed a rhythm.
UCLA commit Jalen Starks was unstoppable for the Blue en route to his honor as Offensive MVP. His 5-yard touchdown run and 35-yard touchdown catch from John Larsen made it a game and cut the deficit, 21-14, at the fourth quarter’s start.
A comeback was not meant to be though. Notre Dame commit Troy Pride made sure of that for the Grey. His second interception was a 60-yard return for a score in the fourth quarter sealed the victory and earned him the award as Defensive MVP.
A strength for the Grey was its offensive line, Notre Dame commit Parker Boudreaux, Colorado commit Hunter Vaughn, Duke commit Jaylen Miller, ACC targets John Mays and Matt Ahearn, also Ohio Valley Conference target Dalton Turnbow.
With ACC target Augie DeBiase sidelined with an injury for the Grey, Mueller and Big 12 Conference target Stone Johnson took advantage of extra reps. With that, the stock of both figures to increase in the eyes of college coaches and scouts.
In terms of options on the offensive side of the ball for the Grey, it likely helped having Vanderbilt commit Jamauri Wakefield, Ohio Valley Conference target Dontell Green, Southland Conference target and Conference USA target Austin Duncan.
The defense for the Grey was handful to deal with, starting with ACC target Zuriel Davis. One-time Minnesota commits and twin brothers Elijah and Elisha Daniels, along with Pride of course, did not allow many completed passes in their vicinity.
Defensively for the Blue, it was more of the same as Notre Dame commit Julian Love and Utah State Braxton Gunther kept things close from their secondary spots. Promising prospects Luke Presley, John McKee and Deshon Riley also contributed.
Nevertheless, given the right circumstance and player personnel for the Blue, Pac-12 Conference target Ephrain Tuliloa and Ohio Valley Conference target Nate Embry found a fair amount of success in the short-to-intermediate passing game.
Illinois commit Juwaune Parchman, Towson commit Christian Johnson, Wisconsin commit Gabe Lloyd and Big West Conference target Brandon LaMarche made the most of their respective amounts of playing time for the Blue.
The Blue did well on defense with Mountain West Conference target Hunter Eborn, MAC target Jake Richardson and rising recruits Jake Krambeck, Kody Paladino and Eljon Williams, who all at times outplayed their more well-known counterparts.