Army Bowl: Three hot teams from Thursday's practice
SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Army All-American Bowl teams were back in practice Thursday after Wednesday’s off-day. Our three hot college programs based on the day's action features one school making its second appearance on our list this week.
The Bulldogs have more commitments participating in this year’s Army Bowl than any other college football program, and while that is certainly an advantage in an evaluation like this, several of their commits have been among the most impressive players at the event this week. Quarterback Jake Fromm has consistently stood out as the best quarterback on either squad, and Thursday may have been his best performance. The Rivals100 signal caller was on-point, making throws that really made you stand up and take notice.
Offensive tackle commit Andrew Thomas has been very good all week and also may have had his best performance on Thursday. The same can be said for Rivals100 safety Richard LeCounte, who worked as a cornerback in some drills and locked up several of the top wide receivers on the East team. Meanwhile, four-star linebacker commit Nate McBride continued his impressive play on Thursday, showing well in team run scrimmage situations, where he used his speed to string out several plays to the sideline.
The Seminoles have far fewer commits participating than Georgia does in this year’s Army Bowl, but all three of the future Seminoles in attendance had strong days. Five-star Cam Akers has had a fairly quiet week by his standards thus far and for the most part has been overshadowed by D’Andre Swift among the East running backs. Akers may be rounding into form for Saturday’s game, though, as he made several impressive plays both running and receiving. The East coaches also utilized his quarterback skills on a few trick plays, and Akers impressively was throwing the ball 50 yards downfield with accuracy.
Rivals100 defensive tackle Ja’Len Parks looks to have slimmed down from when we saw him at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge over the summer. He made his best plays of the week in the East’s run scrimmage, living in the offensive backfield. The third Florida State commit on the East roster is wide receiver D.J. Matthews, who has been one of the East’s best regardless of position all week, but had his quietest day on Thursday. Still, he showed off his wheels on a jet sweep in red zone work, getting the corner easily and waltzing into the end zone.
The Bruins have even fewer commits in San Antonio this week than Florida State – just two, with both playing for the West team: defensive end Jaelan Phillips and offensive lineman Kanan Ray. While Phillips has been one of the top performers over the course of the entire week, Ray really shined on Thursday.
In team scrimmage and working against defensive tackle Jay Tufele, who sits just outside the Rivals100, Ray did well to hold things down in the interior of the line. The cracks and gaps that Tufele has otherwise had success working through simply were not there. Ray did an exceptional job of coming off the snap quicker and setting a base and spread with his lower half that linemen struggled to work through. The West team incorporated some more stunts at the line of scrimmage, and Ray also was sound picking up the movement and shielding the pocket.
Phillips just continues to be a terror off the edge, getting into the backfield with regularity. Even when the offense called swing passes to running backs to diffuse that pressure, Phillips got so deep so quickly that those throws took receivers further behind the line just to catch them. Phillips signature moment of the day came when a shotgun snap was mishandled by quarterback Shawn Robinson and popped up in the air for Phillips to snatch and score out of his rush.