SAN ANTONIO — A trio of Texas commits gave Longhorn fans plenty to cheer about Saturday at the annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl while QB Terrelle Pryor lived up to his considerable hype en route to MVP honors. Pryor almost single-handedly guided the East to a 33-23 win in front of an All-American Bowl record 36,534 at the Alamodome.
Terrelle Pryor, the nation’s top prep QB and still uncommitted, accounted for 155 all-purpose yards and had a hand in two scores while splitting snaps with pair of other signal-callers. Yet, WR Texas commit Dan Buckner (wearing No. 4, no less) offered a sneak preview of why he should emerge as a big-time target. Meanwhile, his future Texas teammates, CB D.J. Monroe and SS Nolan Brewster, stood head-and-shoulder pads above most of their defensive counterparts for the West.
Brewster, who is projected at either FS or OLB, tied for a game-best six tackles while recording the afternoon’s only INT. The undersized (5-9, 165) yet explosive Monroe tallied four stops, including two TFL, and recovered a fumble. Buckner notched three receptions for 28 yards, including the first TD of the day for the West.
“My touchdown doesn’t matter to me unless we win,” Buckner said. “I’m all about winning. I want to win. I hate losing. That’s why I don’t care about the touchdown. If we had won, then I would have been glad. But I was there to help us win, so I didn’t do anything.”
Buckner and Brewster were in the West’s starting lineup along with Texas commits RG David Snow, LCB Aaron Williams and K Justin Tucker. Future Longhorn LB Dravannti Johnson joined Monroe on the West’s 2nd Team. Buckner, Snow, Johnson, Monroe and Tucker are early enrollees and will participate in Longhorn spring football.
“It’s going to great and I start (at UT) next Thursday,” Buckner added. “I’m going to take these next three days off before I get on campus and start working hard.”
It was a low-key outing for RB Darrell Scott who managed eight yards on three carries, all in the first half. (There was some speculation that Scott might have been nicked during the game, but he said, ‘Nope. I’m healthy’). Now, the nation’s top RB trips to Florida and LSU before announcing his decision between those two programs, Colorado and Texas. Scott is expected to wait until National Signing Day (Feb. 6) before committing, but has long maintained that early playing time would be a deciding factor.
“Jamaal Charles’ decision (to enter the NFL Draft) was big,” Scott said, “but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got to take trips to Florida and LSU to see if they jump into the picture.”
It was a relatively nondescript afternoon for Five-Star Longhorn commit Aaron Williams. The LCB was beat on a TD toss but notched four tackles and returned a punt for four yards. Tucker was true on both PATs while netting 35.3 yards on three punts, including one that was downed at the eight.
“I’ve always been a Texas Longhorn,” said Tucker, an Austin Westlake product considered one of the country’s top kickers. “I’ve lived in Austin the majority of my life and Texas football has always been a big part of my family.”
Pryor’s six-yard run produced the afternoon’s first score with 6:21 remaining in the opening frame, but several Texas commits had a hand — and a foot — in the West’s five-play scoring drive to knot the score at seven. It began with Brewster’s tip-drill INT of Alabama QB commit Star Jackson’s pass, setting up his squad at the East 25-yard line. Buckner made a terrific play on QB Andrew Luck’s nine-yard fade in the right corner of the end zone on third-and-six, using his 6-4, 220-pound frame to get separation from a DB and go up top for the grab. Tucker added the PAT.
Monroe turned on the jets to run down TB Lamaar Thomas (Ohio State commit ) for a TD-saving tackle at the end of 36-yard dash up the middle. But Star would hook-up with WR Jonathan Baldwin (Pittsburgh) on a 46-yard scoring toss to put the East ahead for good just 3:10 in the second quarter. QB Dayne Crist (Notre Dame commit) fumbled on the West 27-yard line but Monroe helped keep the East out of the end zone. Monroe, one of four national finalists for the EAS Speed & Strength Award, did not bite on Pryor’s throwback pass to the right side of the field, throwing TE Kyle Rudolph (Notre Dame commit) for a three-yard loss. Blair Walsh’s 47-yard FG attempt dropped just short of the left upright.
Monroe wasn’t done, recovering Boubacar Cissoko’s muffed punt at the East 38. It led to a 21-yard Justin Sorenson FG following a four-play, 14-yard drive. The East tacked on another TD with seven seconds remaining until intermission when QB MarQueis Gray (uncommitted) connected with WR Deandre Brown (uncommitted) from 14 yards yards out.
The West responded with 6:21 remaining in the third quarter when Crist found future Notre Dame teammate Michael Floyd on the deep post for a 56-yard TD reception. Tucker’s PAT trimmed the East’s lead, 20-17.
But Pryor put the game away on the East’s next series with what was, unarguably, the play of game. The 6-6, 230-pounder rolled right and then threw diagonally across his body to WR John Goodman (Notre Dame commit) for a 25-yard scoring strike.
Gray would score again for the East with an 11-yard scamper with 2:46 remaining in the game before the West completed the scoring with Luck’s 38-yard toss to Michael Floyd. At this juncture, all Longhorn commits were done for the day, sitting together on a bench near mid-field, flashing the Hook ‘Em hand signal and anticipating a bright future.
“All of our guys in the secondary are going to be good,” Johnson said. “Aaron is going to be good. Nolan is going to be a hard hitting safety, D.J. has got speed, speed, speed. We’re going to be good no matter what.” …post-game photos:
Aaron Williams Darrell Scott Dravannti Johnson, D.J. Monroe and Aaron Williams Nolan Brewster Bill Frisbie interviews Dravannti Johnson D.J. Monroe