Really, it all begins up front, in most cases. Never was that more evident than during the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl on Jan. 4 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium, a game featuring many of the nation’s premier recruits from the Class of 2020.
NFL assistant and head coach George Martinez, along with NFL veteran trainer and offensive coordinator Rodney Beasley, took advantage of a particularly well-prepared unit en route to a South victory over North, 16-10, in a national broadcast on ESPN3.
Maryland commit Zach Perkins, Florida Atlantic commit Malik Jones and Charlotte commit Panda Askew anchored the offensive line, with Conference USA target Miller Merriweather-Lewis and Pioneer Football League target Michael Marotta, among others.
With plenty of time in the pocket, Lafayette commit Rent Montie directed the offense for the South. He finished 12-of-15 for 129 passing yards and 54 rushing yards. No surprise either, his name was in the conversation for Offensive MVP.
Old Dominion commit Noah Robinson held his own on the South. Same with American Athletic Conference target Dean Patterson, Colonial Athletic Association target Myles Coble, also Southern Conference targets Upton Bailey and Stanley Hill.
Similarly, and on paper, the North seemed to be stacked. Especially so down in the trenches, where Auburn commit Jeremiah Wright took up a fair amount of space and commanded attention from start to finish. He was named Defensive MVP.
Indiana commit Coleon Smith, South Dakota commit Aaron Kurth, Ball State commit Ethan Crowe, Sun Belt Conference target Garrison Wheatley, Ohio Valley Conference target Ethan Pitton and MEAC target Nikolai Bujnowksi were no slouches.
On the North offense, Iowa commit Isaiah Wagner, Kent State commit Jasper Robinson and North Dakota State commit Joe Deyak made plays all over the field. Deserving of a mention was Colonial Athletic Association target Rodney Vines.
Defensively for the North, Missouri Valley Football Conference target Kameron Yancey was given a fair amount of consideration for the Defensive MVP. Lining up on the same side, Bowling Green commit Jack Wardzala was impressive as well.
ACC targets Jaki Brevard and Noah Terry exceeded expectations for the South, along with counterparts Mountain West Conference target Gaetan Louissaint, Conference USA target Larmar Frazier and Pioneer Football League target Michyl Shaw.
Colonial Athletic Association target Corey Chapman, Ohio Valley Conference target Jalen Smith, Missouri Valley Football Conference target Quintcy Suggs and MEAC target Jibril Pollard of the North each made some rather memorable plays.
Worth mentioning, Sun Belt Conference Donavan Manson and Missouri Valley Football Conference target Logan Black for the North, with American Athletic Conference target Darius Rodgers and MEAC target Conroy Cunningham of the South did well.