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January 4, 2008SAN ANTONIO - One thing was noticeably different about the West team when they took the practice field for their final workout in San Antonio on Friday.
Parkway (Mo.) West five-star quarterback Blaine Gabbert was nowhere to be seen, that's because he was back at the hotel trying to get over what Army medical staff officials called a "24-hour flu bug" he came down with Thursday night.
West head coach Bob Jones said following Friday's walk-through he remains optimistic that Gabbert will be ready to go for Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
"They got an I-V on him and they're giving him some medication," Jones said. "He'll be fine. I talked to him this morning and reassured him if I've got to roll you out in a wheel chair and let you hand it off three times, you'll play."
Jones went on to say that nobody else on the West team has come down with any similar symptoms to Gabbert's, so they are hoping it's something that will shake out of his system by later tonight.
"He got sick last night and he was throwing up," Jones said. "He came out and stayed in the room last night when we had a quarterback meeting. This morning he was still sick and stayed in the room. The trainer took him to the doctor this morning, and the trainer feels like it's just a 24 hour thing and he'll fine."
Jones said on Friday that he'll start Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist in Saturday's Army Bowl, but his three quarterbacks will rotate every series.
Crist has been the most consistent quarterback of the week for the West and his leadership skills have also really stood out.
"Right now it looks like we'll go with Dayne," Jones said. "Dayne will start the game and then we'll probably paper, rock, scissor for Andrew (Luck) and Blaine (Gabbert)."
West will have two key announcements
With Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton running back Covaughn DeBoskie's announcement to Cal slipping out on Thursday, there will actually only be two true commitment announcements on the West team during Saturday's NBC live television broadcast.
DeBoskie's teammate, Gerell Robinson will announce between Arizona State and Notre Dame, but it has been widely speculated in San Antonio that he is a strong Irish lean at this point.
The other announcement on the West squad will be from Kaneohe (Ha.) Castle lineman Solomon Koehler, who will choose between Arizona, Hawaii and Oregon State.
Koehler broke down his top three following Friday's walk-through practice at the Blossom Athletic Complex.
"Hawaii is a good school and an in-state school," Koehler said. "Coach (June) Jones did a great job and he sends a lot of players to the NFL that weren't really ranked. They made them great players, so just imagine what they can do when they get great players.
"Oregon State has a lot of local Hawaii boys up there. It's a big Poly community. I like their defensive line coach, but it's a school I wouldn't mind playing offense for.
"Arizona is just a great place. I can't tell you much about it, but there's just something about it that attracts me to it."
The commitment announcements will be spanned out during the entire game which is scheduled to run from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. CST.
DeBerg impressed with West quarterbacks
During yesterday's practice session, former NFL quarterback Steve DeBerg addressed all of the West quarterbacks.
What impressed DeBerg the most about the West quarterbacks was just how physically advanced they are for this stage in the game.
"They're very good and their skill level is very advanced for high school," DeBerg said. "It's really surprising how developed they are with their skill level. It seems like with their knowledge of the game, you would think they are in college already. They have an opportunity to be really special players."
The biggest message DeBerg said he tried to relay to the West quarterbacks on Thursday was there are no shortcuts to success other than hard work.
"I was just talking to them about what it takes to be a special quarterback, and that's willing to do things that other people aren't willing to do," DeBerg said. "Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the best quarterbacks in the world and they just happen to work harder than any other quarterbacks in the world as well."
"We're going to try to get him in and pad it up," Jones said. "He's missed some practice, but he's a great athlete and he's going to be able to adjust."
"It was just so amazing because those are our mentors as coaches," Jones said. "It was just a great thing. The kids see Herman Boone, and I think they think Denzel Washington. I think a lot of these kids don't realize it's a real person."
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