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January 7, 2012

Army Bowl: What we learned

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SAN ANTONIO - The West defeated the East 24-12 on Saturday in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in front of 39,011 fans at the Alamodome. Here are five things we learned in the game:

1. Two sides of Green-Beckham

Dorial Green-Beckham is an outstanding talent and a constant threat on the outside, evidenced by his 79-yard touchdown grab on third-and-long in the first half. He has great athleticism and his physical skills rival any player in this class regardless of position. That's why Rivals.com rates him as the No. 1 player in 2012.

There have been some issues this week, though, with the Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest prospect's hands and dropped passes. Green-Beckham also showed that side when he dropped a pass in the end zone which should have been another touchdown and then had another drop early in the fourth.

The upside of Green-Beckham is so high that even if his game isn't perfection yet he's still so impressive and could be such a big-time player that remaining No. 1 in the class is definitely not out of the question.

Beckham had two catches for 88 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone.

2. Thompson is a headhunting playmaker

Rivals.com rates Shaq Thompson as the best safety in the 2012 class and the Sacramento (Calif.) Grant standout definitely backed it up.

There is no doubt Alabama commit Landon Collins is a close second and within argument to be the top player at that position but Thompson is so physical, tough and is such a headhunter that it's difficult not to put him first.

In the first half, Thompson had two big tackles where he leveled opponents and was involved in many other plays. There has been talk that the 6-foot-2, 210-pound prospect might have to move to outside linebacker but Thompson is big, fast and strong, and clearly showed he can be an immediate impact player in college.

In fact, the entire West secondary turned in a very impressive afternoon, shutting down the East passing game. The East managed just 135 passing yards, and picked off three passes.

3. Yeldon lives up to five-star ranking

T.J. Yeldon switched from Auburn to Alabama in his recruitment and it has proven to be a big-time move for the Crimson Tide because the five-star made numerous big plays especially in the first half for the West squad.

Yeldon had two long runs that were really impressive, including one where he leaped over a defender and almost stretched the ball to the goal line but was called out at the 2-yard line.

What also makes the Daphne, Ala., prospect so impressive is that he's not easily tackled. On one run he spun away from a defender and gained about eight yards. Yeldon was probably the most consistent running back all week during practice and he showed out in the game.

4. Williams has game-breaking speed

One of the nicest plays in the game came in the third quarter when running back Trey Williams caught a screen pass, took it to the sideline and basically ran past defenders all the way to the end zone.

It would have been one of the game's highlights but Williams' 85-yard scamper was called back because of holding near the offensive line. The five-star running back is faster than pretty much everyone in the game and it showed on a sweep play where he got to the outside, seemed to have no room to run and then bolted down the sideline for a nice gain.

Texas A&M is getting a stud running back who could put up points fast. That should be a great pickup for the Aggies under new coach Kevin Sumlin - unless the Spring (Texas) Dekaney prospect decides to flip to Arkansas, Oklahoma State or even Oregon.

5. Washington is stand out at DE

For all the talk about how outstanding the West offensive line was going to be, how dominant and how it was going to enforce its will, Ohio State commit Adolphus Washington had something else to say.

Washington had back-to-back big plays, which accounted for 1.5 sacks, and he made other nice stops in the second half. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end is quick and athletic but he also gets great leverage and can really attack the quarterback or running back almost at will.



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