I think the officials of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl football game made a mistake when they selected the most valuable player in the wake of Saturday's nationally televised game in San Antonio.
Everybody agreed that quarterback Tajh Boyd of Hampton, Va., who passed for three touchdowns, was an obvious MVP choice. And running back Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kan., who caught two of Boyd's TD passes, was acknowledged as co-MVP.
But it should have been Florida State-bound Willie Downs, a free safety from Tallahassee Fla., who stood out on defense. I believe the vote-counters got confused between the names, Downs and Brown. Downs has said he prefers to play wide receiver in college but Saturday's performance proved he is a big-time playmaker on defense.
Boyd's recruiting continues to take one twist after another. He originally committed to West Virginia, the de-committed and opted for Tennessee. But new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin dropped him, saying Boyd didn't fit into Kiffin's new offense. So Boyd is on the market again. Oregon could be the favorite. Nebraska is in the running, too.
Brown told NBC announcer and former USC quarterback Pat Haden that he was wavering on his commitment to Miami (Fla.). That might be an indication that his older brother, who is at Miami, isn't happy with the program. Brown, the nation's No. 1 running back, also is said to be looking at Oregon.
Are there politics involved in high school all-star games? You betcha. Last year, Terrelle Pryor was almost a universal choice as the No. 1 player in the nation. But the Under Armour all-star game didn't rate Pryor No. 1 because he chose to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
This year, the U.S. Army game singled out quarterback/wide receiver Rueben Randle of Bastrop, La., as the No. 1 recruit in the nation instead of USC-bound quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana., Calif., the consensus choice who opted to play in the Under Armour game. In my view, Randle is only the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation behind Marlon Brown of Memphis, Tenn.
The Chicago area's two participants in the game, Notre Dame-bound offensive lineman Chris Watt of Glenbard West and Illinois-bound defensive end Craig Drummond of Morgan Park, turned in outstanding performances.
Watt, who played guard, who was one of the primary pass blockers for Boyd, who set an all-star game record by throwing for more than 180 yards.
Drummond, who was sidelined for the entire 2008 season with a leg injury, kept his promise by getting into top physical condition for the game. He showed no ill effects from not playing during the regular season. He didn't even practice on Thursday. But he came ready to play on Saturday. Illinois got a steal. He's the real deal.
Another player who opened eyes--how could you miss him?--was 6-6, 330-pound offensive lineman D.J. Fluker of Foley, Ala., who is committed to Alabama. He was ticketed for the defensive line by many scouts but he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is best suited to be a left offensive tackle in college.
Illinois-bound wide receiver Kraig Appleton of East St. Louis didn't play in the game due to an injury. There has been speculation that he is wavering on his original commitment and might opt for Wisconsin. But I think he's only playing games. He will play at Illinois next fall.