2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl preview

2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl preview

January 7, 2017

Dylan McCaffrey (image via 247 Sports)

The 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played January 7, at 1:00 p.m. The broadcast will be on NBC.

Here’s a look at the participating players who were offered by Michigan (and an all-time list of Michigan commits can be found HERE):


QB Hunter Johnson (Clemson)
QB Davis Mills (Stanford)
RB Cam Akers (Florida State)
RB Ty Chandler (Tennessee)
RB D’Andre Swift (Georgia)
WR Tarik Black (Michigan)
WR Mike Harley (West Virginia)
WR Jeremiah Holloman (Georgia)
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan)
TE Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)
OL D’Antne Demery (Georgia)
OL Netori Johnson (Georgia)
OL Josh Myers (Ohio State)
OL Kendall Randolph (Alabama)
OL Tedarrell Slaton
OL Andrew Thomas (Georgia)
DE A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
DE Deron Irving-Bey (Michigan)
DE Jarez Parks
DE Chase Young (Ohio State)
DT Rutger Reitmaier (Oregon)
DT Aubrey Solomon
LB Justin Foster (Clemson)
LB Willie Gay
LB Nate McBride (Georgia)
LB Hamsah Nasirildeen (Clemson)
CB Richard LeCounte (Georgia)
CB Ambry Thomas (Michigan)
CB Shaun Wade (Ohio State)
S Devon Hunter


QB Tate Martell (Ohio State)
QB Dylan McCaffrey (Michigan)
QB Shawn Robinson (TCU)
RB Eno Benjamin
RB Stephen Carr (USC)
RB Najee Harris (Alabama)
RB Greg Johnson
WR Joseph Lewis
WR Tyjon Lindsey (Ohio State)
WR Omar Manning (TCU)
WR Oliver Martin
TE Colby Parkinson (Stanford)
OL Wyatt Davis (Ohio State)
OL Chuck Filiaga
OL Austin Jackson
OL Walker Little (Stanford)
OL Jake Moretti (Colorado)
OL Brett Neilon (USC)
OL Foster Sarell
DE Hunter Echols (UCLA)
DE Jaelan Phillips (UCLA)
DT Jay Tufele
DT Marlon Tuipulotu (Washington)
LB Baron Browning (Ohio State)
LB Bruce Jordan-Swilling (Georgia Tech)
LB Sampson Niu (Oregon)
CB Darnay Holmes
CB Jaylon Johnson (Utah)
CB Deommodore Lenoir
CB Jeffrey Okudah
S Bubba Bolden

If you want to check out U.S. Army All-Americans since the game’s inception, check out that list here (LINK).

Hit the jump for more on tomorrow’s game.


  • RB Eno Benjamin
  • S Bubba Bolden
  • WR Jamire Calvin
  • CB Darnay Holmes
  • OT Chuck Filiaga
  • S Jeffrey Okudah
  • OT Foster Sarell

Out of that group, Michigan isn’t going to be the choice for anyone except perhaps Chuck Filiaga. That would be great for Michigan, which needs an early-impact tackle. Eno Benjamin did put Michigan in his top six, but they’re supposedly not recruiting him anymore.


  • California RB Najee Harris, the #1 recruit in the country, plans to enroll at the college of his choice following the game. He is currently “committed” to Alabama but has been flirting with Michigan, so which one will he choose?
  • Will Texas OT Chuck Filiaga pick Michigan? Michigan has immediate openings for help on the offensive line, and Filiaga is one of the most college ready players left on the board. I have my Crystal Ball on Michigan.
  • WR Tarik Black has earned good reviews during the first part of the week, mostly for his route running. He checked in at a shade over 6’2″ in bare feet, so he’s not quite the 6’4″ that some sites listed.
  • DE Deron Irving-Bey‘s game has so far this week been reported to be largely what I suggested when he committed. He has some decent quickness, but he doesn’t have a wide variety of moves and needs to improve the use of his hands. Will he look overmatched against some of the country’s top linemen?
  • QB Dylan McCaffrey arrived a day late after receiving an award in Colorado. That doesn’t bode well for how much he can move up the depth chart by the end of the week. A couple observers had him ranked as the low man on the totem pole when it comes to quarterbacks. He needs to develop physically and needs to put on some weight so he can hold up at the next level.
  • WR Donovan Peoples-Jones has also been earning very good reviews for his play. At this point he’s likely to start, and he’s been able to get separation against defensive backs. Can he make an impact in the game, even though QBs and OLs can often be shaky with such little practice time?
  • CB Ambry Thomas‘s week has been a little more muted than those of Black and Peoples-Jones, but it will be interesting to see how he holds up physically against the best receivers in the country. Thomas is very thin and needs to get in the weight room.


  1. Tartarsauce
    Comments: 77
    Joined: 1/22/2016
    Jan 05, 2017 at 8:42 AM

    In the clips I’ve seen of Irving-Bey in 1-1s at the army practices, I thought he more than held his own. Showed some quickness and there’s some potential there. Will be interesting to see how he progresses in college. I still like Hudson and Jeter more long term. In particular, James Hudson’s senior film was pretty impressive. Could see Hudson getting some PT at the 3-tech next year.

    • Tartarsauce
      Comments: 77
      Joined: 1/22/2016
      Jan 06, 2017 at 4:40 PM

      Just to add a little more to my original post, it sounds like Irving-Bey is in line to start the Army game and has had a good week of practices.

  2. Comments: 209
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    Jan 05, 2017 at 10:12 AM

    Today’s the 5th isn’t it. Did you post this 1 day too early and we get todays headline story tomorrow?
    Or did I get so drunk after the penn st basketball game that I’ve slept completely thru Thursday?
    Or has Friday the 6th been deleted ahead of time from the historical record so we can more quickly get to watch the game? 🙂

    Jus askin’……………….INTJohn

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2513
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 05, 2017 at 11:52 AM

      I originally scheduled this post for Friday, but then I bumped it up to Thursday to give everyone an extra day to peruse/discuss it. I forgot to take out the “tomorrow,” though.

  3. Comments: 74
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    Jan 05, 2017 at 11:07 AM

    So, what is the status of O’Maury Samuels? Is he still with us? Grades? Angry?

    Is he even in the same conversation talent-wise as a Cam Akers of Najee Harris?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2513
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 05, 2017 at 11:51 AM

      He is still committed to Michigan. He had to get some grade stuff in order, which is why he can’t take an official until later this month.

      I don’t think he’s quite as good as Akers/Harris, because he’s more of a speed back, whereas those guys are three-down type of backs. I would liken Samuels more to Chris Evans.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 3724
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jan 05, 2017 at 1:02 PM

    That 2 inch bump is standard “with shoes” listing for anyone whose height is relevant. So I think Black’s 6’4 is probably as legit as anyone else’s height.

    How useful do you think scouting of these all-star games is? I think you’ve said in the past the OL is inherently disadvantaged. My thought is it’s useful as a showcase for athleticism – so seeing the WRs and CBs do their thing could be a good indicator.

    I’m still impressed you remembered how Shane Morris looked 4 years ago. I’ll be honest and say the times I’ve tuned in have mostly been to see announcements.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2513
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 05, 2017 at 1:38 PM

      Well, I always say that you can subtract about an inch from everyone’s listed height. With Black it’s two inches. Still, a 6’4″ receiver sounds like kind of a monster. A 6’2″ guy…not so much.

      I agree on the whole athleticism thing. A guy who’s quick or fast is going to be quick or fast at the next level. If Donovan Peoples-Jones consistently blows past cornerbacks in this game, that’s a good sign for him in college. If Ambry Thomas chases down a speedy receiver, that’s a good thing. That’s not going to fade away. I don’t trust what I see from offensive linemen or interior linemen, nor do I like evaluating QBs, especially if they play poorly. If a QB plays well with little practice and time to build chemistry, then that’s impressive.

      Maybe I’m not as dumb as you thought I was… No, I have a good memory for things like that. I still remember scores, plays, jersey numbers, etc. from long past. It doesn’t help for many things, but it does help as a coach because I can remember what teams run in certain situations, what we ran in certain situations, etc. And it does help when I see a former player a few years later, and I’m like, “Hey, remember that time it was 3rd-and-27 against Howell and you took that bubble screen for 28 yards?” That makes guys feel good when you remember something specific from their high school days.

      • Comments: 1145
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Jan 05, 2017 at 2:11 PM

        My wife goes crazy because I can tell her the next play in some classic Michigan game from the 70s but can’t pull my youngest son’s name out of RAM.

        Speaking of the 70’s and height. Tom Burleson was a center on the NC State team that finally knocked off UCLA in the NCAA tournament. He was routinely listed at 7’4″ but was subsequently found to only be 7’2″ contributing evidence for Thunder’s theory. At his press conference upon Burleson being drafted by the Sonics, the GM was asked what the team saw in Burleson. He replied, “In the fourth quarter when the quick guys are all tired, he’ll still be 7’4”.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3724
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Jan 05, 2017 at 2:29 PM

        I would say 1 inch is minimum and 2 is common. With some of the guys listed at 6′ it’s probably up to 3. Shoes vary. 😉

        The NBA combine is good data that documents the bump in detail. From my recollection 1.5 to 1.75 was probably the median.

        May be less so in football because height is less of an issue but then again it may be more since ‘shoes’ can mean cleats.

        Also anecdotally I played basketball against guys who were listed at 6’6 in HS who I could look at eye to eye and at 6’2 who I was significantly taller than. I’m under 6’3 in bare feet and therefore “list” myself at 6’2 when people ask. Point is this is neither new or unusual.

        Expect Black to be about as tall as Drake Harris. Hopefully with 10-20 good pounds more.

        I’m very encouraged to read that Black is doing well. We know DPJ is a great athlete, so I’m more interested to see how TB looks against high caliber athletes.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 363
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        Jan 05, 2017 at 4:06 PM

        >> “remember that time it was 3rd-and-27 against Howell …”

        Howell is where I went to high school, lo these *many* years ago.

        I did not follow sports much back then (1974 – 1977), so I can’t recall how good (or bad) they were. I have absolutely no idea how good (or bad) they are now. Howell, Michigan is a long way from Tucson, Arizona.

      • Comments: 14
        Joined: 12/21/2016
        Jan 06, 2017 at 1:00 AM

        Cool Story Bro: I ran into Jonas Mouton a few years ago at an alumni bar. I actually think it was the final 4 basketball game against Syracuse. I complimented him on a pass drop he did against Norte dame where he got an interception. It was either a hard play action or possibly a flea flicker (I remembered at the time). He looked totally out of the play and then dropped back faster than I thought was possible and got an INT. He was really pumped I remembered the specific play. /cool story bro

  5. Comments: 151
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    Jan 05, 2017 at 1:49 PM


    I feel obligated to answer all questions that are asked of me. That’s only polite.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 3724
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jan 05, 2017 at 2:39 PM

    There is a lot of irony in Najee Harris “keeping quiet” about his decision. No matter where he ends up, the other fan base will feel strung along. In a way it is very naive, if that is his intent. He is no doubt very aware of all the interest his recruitment is drawing, so naive is probably not correct. Maybe obstinate is better.

    Of course Harris is entitled to any of that, as he is entitled to not give any interviews. It is not his job to supply recruitniks with information or feed the machine. But if he actually did want the attention, ‘marketing’, and drama of a hat-ceremony-type-EVENT, without dealing with the hassle, his approach is kind of brilliant.

    Regardless I’ll be tuned in, but will take most information with a grain of salt until Sunday or Monday (or whenever it’s ‘official’).

    • Comments: 209
      Joined: 12/24/2016
      Jan 05, 2017 at 3:31 PM

      I’ll add comedic irony and agree with your characterization of brilliant with a certain contemptuously quiet shaking of the head on Harris’ part. Apparently the high school football recruiting Paparazzi are all camped out at SA International trying to spy out his flight schedule………. lunacy.

      It made me laugh when I saw that he was returning back to Oakland and I thought HAH! he’s going to ignore both Bama & Mich and just show up at Cal – lol; but actually it wouldn’t surprise me if he has someone drive him the 90 minutes North to Austin and he leaves from there ; hence bypassing all of the hullaballoo.


      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3724
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Jan 05, 2017 at 3:42 PM

        I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that he simply is not interested playing the recruiting industry game.

        The fact that the coaching staffs don’t seem to know what he is doing either is tougher to reckon with the idealized view.

        • Comments: 209
          Joined: 12/24/2016
          Jan 05, 2017 at 4:01 PM

          Decent insight.
          There is something going on with him that no one can seem to put their finger on: Adolescent simplicity?, naiveté?, an inability to verbalize ones intuitions? I don’t know the young man and Thunder has way more experience than I in dealing with high schoolers in general and the 17 year old student athlete in particular.

          I will add too that I’ve read from several directions how much he loves Michigan…….. I’m somewhat skeptical as I think its more being starstruck with Harbaugh. The young man was like what? 8 years old when Harbaugh went to Stanford and then continued in the Bay Area with the 49’ers. The kid’s adolescent football dreams ‘grew up with Harbaugh’…………


        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3724
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Jan 05, 2017 at 5:48 PM

          Right – he is operating differently than most. Nothing wrong with that per se, but there’s an element of disregard for others in this too. His approach leaves everyone guessing – not just fans with misplaced priorities, but coaches too.

          Najee’s lack of communication is a statement of sorts, though it’s entirely unclear what that statement is.

          It’s interesting…

          • Comments: 209
            Joined: 12/24/2016
            Jan 05, 2017 at 8:13 PM

            Najee kinda reminds me of another blue chip running back from California – from San Diego that was recruited by everyone; and he too was looked at by people as kind of a mystery, en enigma and thats Ricky Williams.

            Sports minded people never understood him either. How could you leave San Diego & go to Texas? or the way in which he just up & left the NFL……..

            Maybe Najee is similar to that. That sees more to the world than simply just ‘Football’ and sees it only as a short term step to a much larger goal of living with ones self. I don’t know. Harbaugh wouldn’t understand it probably, as all he knows is Football but not all who wander are ‘Lost’ and even if one is a world class athlete it doesn’t mean thats all there is to you.

            Unlike most , I never had a problem understanding where Ricky came from; how he saw the World; His Big Picture view. Maybe Najee is similar to that or maybe its just from drinking too much California water……….


            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3724
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Jan 06, 2017 at 3:37 PM

              Williams was awesome. One of my favorite backs of all time.

      • gobluetwo
        Comments: 31
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Jan 06, 2017 at 11:13 AM

        regarding the recruiting paparazzi, could be even more irony there as he could easily just connect through ATL regardless of his final destination (assuming either BHM or DTW). So unless they could actually sneak a peak at his itinerary, it would be all for naught. Of course, that could then mean that they send out agents and spies to hang out in ATL to see where he goes from SAT…

        (no, this isn’t insane at all)

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3724
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Jan 06, 2017 at 3:36 PM

          He’s going to Georgia per GB2. Helluva class for the Bulldogs.

  7. Comments: 1145
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Jan 07, 2017 at 3:47 PM

    I thought that went pretty well.

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