football Edit

West notebook: A strong bond is being built

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - It was a priceless scene at the West practice session following Tuesday morning's workout.
If you were to walk in late, it would've been hard to figure out what exactly was going on, but about 30 players from the West squad were preparing their pre-game dance led by Kahuku (Hawaii) defensive tackle Joseph Faifili.
The name of the dance Fafili was showing his teammates on Tuesday was the "Tiki Tonu," which is also called a Haka dance. The dance comes from New Zealand and Faifili said it's a Maori tribal war dance.
It was moments like this on Tuesday that show how much the West squad has bonded the last two days in San Antonio.
"It's been two days and it's just been a connection," Oklahoma City (Okla.) Southeast defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "It's like God designed us to be on this team. The connection is crazy. We hardly even knew each other on this team, but as soon as we knew each others names, we've had little games going and it's been fun.
"We've bonded as a family. It feels like we've known each other for a long time. I don't know what it was, but we are just all cool and have each others back."
Faifili said he was practicing the dance on his own at the hotel and a few of his West teammates asked what he was doing.
The goal now is to have the dance learned by kickoff on Saturday and to make it a part of their pre-game warm-ups.
"They honestly looked real good," Faifili said. "This was the first day they really worked on it. People around heard about it and they were interested in it. And it what really surprised me was they were interested in really wanted to learn it.
"Only a couple guys came up to learn it and the next thing you know, I had like three-fourths of the team learning it."
McCoy along with the vocal Eddie Jones were the first players to ask Faifili to learn the dance.
"He was doing a little dance and we were getting some water," McCoy said. "Me, Eddie and some other guys went over there were like 'that's kind of cool, teach us that.'
"Well today we were eating lunch and we were like 'can we do that before the game as a team?' So we all got together as a team and we learned it and that's the bond we got. We agreed on it and we did it as a team."
Click HERE to see Faifili perform his New Zealand tribal war dance. Note: Quicktime player required
Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft wide receiver Jamere Holland will be one of the few high profile players that will not make a decision at Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Holland will take visits to Oregon, Mississippi State, Washington and Arizona in the month of January and he's also highly considering USC.
"I'm not deciding on Saturday," Holland said. "I have to take all my trips. My first trip is the 13th to Oregon and I'll just go on from there."
One team that has gained momentum for Holland is USC. It was thought for quite some time that Holland would leave the state of California, but the Trojans have told him they want him as a wide receiver and not a defensive back.
USC was also Holland's childhood favorite team and several of the SC commits in San Antonio have tried to persuade him to become a Trojan this week.
"It's going to make it tough to turn them down," Holland said. "I'm just going to wait it out and not make a decision at the game. I'll probably wait until signing day."
Aurora (Colo.) Regis Jesuit defensive linemen Butch Lewis came to San Antonio expecting to play either defensive tackle or offensive line.
However, because the West team had so many tackles on both sides of the ball, Lewis was forced to play defensive end. The 6-foot-5, 300 pound Lewis said he hasn't played defensive end since his junior year of high school.
"They had an overload of defensive tackles, so they asked me to play defensive end," Lewis said. "But I played rush end my sophomore year and a little bit my junior year."
Lewis will make his decision on Saturday between Notre Dame and USC and Georgia appears to be on the outside looking in it at this point.
"I'm hoping to pull out a hat on Saturday, because it's between Notre Dame and USC right now," Lewis said.
At one time, the Bulldogs were considered to be Lewis's leader because of family ties in Georgia, but things have changed.
"It's hard to turn down Georgia," Lewis said. "The coaches down there and the atmosphere down there is great and I've got family down there. I was upset about the Sugar Bowl. I felt sorry for them, but they'll come back next year."
Watching Kilgore (Texas) defensive end and Texas commit Eddie Jones come off the edge is scary.
The 6-foot-3, 240 pound Jones may be the most explosive linemen on the West team and he's definitely opened up the eyes of one of his fellow five-star teammates.
"Eddie Jones is the real deal," McCoy said. "He keeps us hyped all the time. He keeps us going and even if you mess up, he's got your back. Nobody can block him. In one-on-one's he may get beat, but nobody can block him. He's too fast and he's strong like a defensive tackle."
The first day of camp the West quarterbacks had trouble gripping the slippery arena league footballs that will be used on Saturday, but Tuesday saw solid improvement across the board.
Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft wide receiver Jamere Holland has slowly established himself as the top receiver on the West team and he gave his breakdown on the three quarterbacks following Tuesday's practice.
Holland on Josh Freeman: "That guy is big. He throws the ball right on the money and he's a good athlete. It's always a spiral and he's just a great athlete."
On Mitch Mustain: "He's a great one as well. He's the No. 1 quarterback in the nation, so that speaks for itself."
On Jevan Snead: "That guy can throw bullets. He's almost throwing it too fast for us. He's a great athlete and I can't wait to catch passes from him on Saturday."
USC will be playing for their third straight national title on Wednesday night and according to five star Trojan commit Taylor Mays, they'll also make a strong run at the nation's top signing class.
Mays has been one of SC's top recruiters in San Antonio and he wouldn't drop very many hints, but he did say the Trojans will have a big day on Saturday.
"I'm not going to say anything," Mays said smiling. "But we are going to make a late run in this recruiting battle."
Mays has also been actively talking to the USC coaching staff this week and he said several of the Trojan coaches will be in San Antonio on Friday to watch practice.
"I'm talking to them and they are telling me what's going on down in Pasadena," Mays said. "They've been in my ear and telling me that I have to help recruit, so I'm working on that.
"I'm recruiting hard. Some guys are kind of giving me silent nods that they are coming, but there some other guys I'm still working on. I'm trying to get in Gerald McCoy's ear, but he's so big, I can't get close to his ear."
***There were no injuries to report from Tuesday's practice. Destrehan (La.) cornerback Jai Eugene (ankle) did make it back to the practice field with no problem on Tuesday.
***Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey standout Stafon Johnson played both defensive back and running back on Tuesday.
***Nebraska defensive line coach John Blake and two coaches from Miami were in attendance at Tuesday's Army practice sessions.
***The West squad conducted another two-a-day practice session on Tuesday. Wednesday they will have two practices again and the U.S. Army media day will be scheduled in-between the two workouts.