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January 1, 2009

Under Armour Thursday White Hot 11

MORE: White team | Black team | UA rosters | Army AA Bowl coverage | More all-star coverage

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The countdown to Sunday's Under Armour All-American Game officially began Wednesday with the start of practice for the White team and the Black team. Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barton Simmons breaks down the top White team performers from Thursday's workout.

White Team Hot 11 - Thursday
QB Matt Barkley
Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
Once the quarterbacks had a day under their belts and they were all beginning to get more comfortable with timing and the offense, Barkley began to seperate himself on the White team as the top quarterback. He made some throws on Thursday that maybe no one else in the country can make. He is quick to get the ball out of his hands and he continues to throw a lot of confidence in his arm and isn't scared to try to fit it into tight spaces. Look for Barkley to get the majority of the reps on Sunday night for the White squad.
DT Gary Brown
6-3/275, Quincy (Fla.) West Gadsden
Brown has been putting on a clinic at the defensive line and there hasn't been a single offensive lineman that has been able to consistetnly get the best of him. Brown went through an entire one-on-one pass rush period winning almost every rep that he took. Offensive linemen have been unable to handle his power and quickness. Even more encouraging is that Brown has shown a competitive fire, wants to dominate and rarely takes a play off.
RB Michael Campanaro
Clarksville (Md.) River Hill
Campanaro stands out physically for the wrong reasons in Orlando. He is listed as a running back on the roster but has spent most of his time in the slot. At either position he is undersized but that hasn't stopped him from being maybe the most consistent wide receiver on the White team at getting open and breaking down defenders. Campanaro is a crisp route-runner, has great hands and looks like he has a chance to be incredibly productive from the slot in the ACC at Wake Forest.
WR Alshon Jeffrey
6-3/214, St. Matthews (S.C.) Calhoun County
Jeffrey is almost automatic in the red zone. His hands continue to wow his teammates, spectators and coaches. On one play in particular he get a step on a cornerback for a quick go route to the end zone and made a diving touchdown grab. Each day, those kinds of plays look to be more and more like the norm for Jeffrey and has to be considered one of the top possession receivers and big targets in the country based on his week in Orlando.
OL Taylor Lewan
6-7/272, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral
It's hard not to like Lewan's potential at tackle. He is light in the pants right now and he's going to need a couple of years to develop in a college weight program but once he does, he has shown that he has some terrific tools to utilize. Lewan is an athletic tackle with a long frame who looks to be every bit of 6-7. He has good feet and balance and as he gets more weight behind him to allow him to handle power moves, he will be a tough matchup for any pass rusher.
LB Ronnell Lewis
6-3/220, Dewar, Okla.
Lewis continues to adjust to 11-man football with ease. Despite his background in 8-man football, one of Lewis' biggest strengths is his instinctual play. Lewis has been one of the quickest to the ball and really locates the ball and gets down hill fast. Lewis accelerates well and is truly a sideline to sideline outside backer. Hie also backpedals and drops into coverage with ease and has been a big part of the White's strong linebacking group.
DB Craig Loston
Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower
Any time you can get Loston in a position to make plays in run support, that is a good thing. Loston loves to hit, is a great tackler and takes good angles in support. On Thursday, the way Loston was able to get involved was to sit him down in press coverage at corner. No wide receiver is going to be able to block Loston and he made several plays behind the line of scrimmage from the cornerback spot. In coverage he looked great at corner too, particularly in press. When he is playing off at safety he has a tendency to get high and doesn't flip his hips as well but because of his speed and instincts, he is very comfortable in tight coverage at the line of scrimmage.
RB Trent Richardson
5-11/210, Pensacoloa (Fla.) Escambia
It can be tough for running backs to stand out sometimes in all-star practice settings but Richardson has been impossible to ignore. His burst out of the backfield is striking even though he is one of the bigger backs in the game. He also has demonstrated some incredibly soft hands out of the backfield. When he does get the ball and turn up field, Richardson has the ability to lower his head and power over smaller defenders or even bigger safeties and linebackers. Richardson has been as good as advertised all week.
OL Xavier Su'a Filo
Pleasant Grove (Utah) Timpview
Su'a Filo put his athleticism on display on Thursday, particularly in the pass-rush one-on-ones. If Su'a Filo got beat it wasn't because of his feet. He always had his body in position to protect the quarterback because of his quick feet and his good balance. Su'a Filo may be the most athletic lineman on the White side and definitely displayed the feet to be a starter at offensive tackle at the next level. As he develops a powerful punch to complement his athleticism he could develop into something special.
LB Manti Te'o
6-2/225, Honolulu Punahou
Te'o is a true downhill physical linebacker and he showed that during team scrimmage periods and interior run drills on Thursday. He has a thick but athletic build that makes him one of the most imposing backers at the game. He sniffs out plays quickly and when he gets downhill, he accelerates through contact and beats linemen and running backs to spots. Te'o has an intimidating physical presence that is hard to miss.
CB Branden Smith
5-11/171, Atlanta Washington
Smith continues to look like the best pure cornerback on the White team. He has such exciting speed and quickness and is able to take chances that other cornerbacks may not be able to get away with because of his recovery skills. Smith excells in man coverage and is the type of corner that will lock down one side of the field. As he develops his feel for zone coverage, his athleticism should allow him to make even more plays on the ball.

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