The U.S. Army and ESPN, television sponsor of the Underarmour all-star football game, are going to war over which event will land the most talented senior players for their 2009 showcases.
Underarmour has received a commitment from USC-bound quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana, Calif., the nation's top-rated player.
So Underarmour has two of the nation's top 20. The U.S. Army, which sponsors the All-American Bowl game in San Antonio in January, has 10 of the top 20 to date, including running backs Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kan., and Chris Whaley of Madisonville, Texas, and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick of Gadsden, Ala.
The U.S. Army also has the two leading Illinois prospects, defensive end Craig Drummond of Morgan Park and offensive lineman Chris Watt of Glenbard West.
It will be more competitive than last year when the U.S. Army clearly dominated the field. Why? Because Barkley's quarterback guru Steve Clarkson, who ran Air 7 for Sportslink, the company that owns the U.S. Army game, had a falling out with Sportslink and joined Underarmour. He is calling other prospects and has talked wide receiver Marlon Brown of Memphis, Tenn., to join Barkley in the Underarmour game.
Another player who figures to play in the U.S. Army game is quarterback Aaron Murray of Tampa, Fla., who recently committed to Georgia. I believe he is the equal to Barkley as the No. 1 quarterback in the nation. But Murray is two inches shorter.
In my view, in Murray Georgia got a quarterback who is better than current starter Matt Stafford. Murray can run better, is a great athlete and is a perfect fit for the spread offense. He could step in as a freshman if Stafford is injured.