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January 6, 2008
Whitlock's Pick 6 Highlights U.A. Game
ORLANDO - At a Saturday gathering of some of the best high school football players in the nation, the quarterback roster looked about how you would expect.
The Red Team featured a group of tall gunslingers led by Rivals100 member Mike Glennon. The 6-foot-6 Glennon was joined by Landry Jones and Braden Hanson, both standing above 6-5.
Kyle Parker responded well after a late interception put his team behind.
The Silver Team was headlined by 6-6, 210-pound five-star prospect E.J. Manuel and a 6-foot-3 four-star in Nick Crissman. However, when it came down to crunch time, the one quarterback that barely reaches six feet stood the tallest.
Clemson commit Kyle Parker went 9-13 for 114 yards in Saturday's Under Armour All-Star Game and his touchdown pass to Jamie Harper with just more than two minutes to play was the decisive score in Team Silver's 17-14 win over Team Red.
Parker set the stage for his heroics just minutes before when he threw a fourth quarter interception to cornerback Charles Whitlock for a touchdown that gave the Red Team a late 14-10 lead. But Parker didn't sulk. The Jacksonville, Fla. native took charge on the very next possession with plans of redeeming himself.
"I knew a lot of people were watching this game and it's not really how you want to go out on national television," Parker said of the interception. "I tried to stay within myself and not get too worked up. I tried to just drive them down the field and execute the plays and it worked out."
It didn't hurt that the receiving group at Parker's disposal included some of the best athletes in the nation at any position.
"I was pretty confident," he said. "I knew what we'd been doing all week would work and I just trusted the players around me cause they're just amazing in their ability and everything, so it all kind of fell together and we scored so it's a pretty good feeling."
Among Parker's options were five-star wide receiver A.J. Green, who introduced himself early in the game with two impressive catches for 36 yards. T.J. Lawrence hauled in one of the most important catches of the game, setting up the game-winning score with a 14-yard reception that was paid for with a crushing hit by safety Will Hill.
Chris Tolliver had the long catch of the day, taking a jump ball from E.J. Manuel and turning it up field for a gain of 33 yards. But the most dangerous threats for the Silver team came out of the backfield.
Andre Ellington led Silver in receiving with four catches for 43 yards while Jamie Harper added three for 11 and the game-winning touchdown.
Both Harper and Ellington continuously showed their versatility this week and stood out among the backs on either team.
Defensively, Silver MVP DaQuan Bowers continued to show why he is one of the most dominating defensive players in high school football.
Such highly-touted players as Tyler Love couldn't handle the speed of Bowers off of the edge and Bowers' activity was a big reason why the final Red drive came up empty.
Another name that continued his dominance from practice was Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington cornerback Brandon Harris. Harris was assigned to cover Joshua Jarboe most of the afternoon after Jarboe had been the best Red receiver all week in practice.
Julio Jones accounted for almost all of Team Red's offense.
Not only did Harris limit Jarboe to one catch for nine yards, but he managed to come up with a big play in crunch time.
Down 10-7 late in the third quarter and struggling to move the ball, the Red Team finally pushed the ball into Silver territory. Then Harris got his opportunity.
He broke on a slant route intended for Jarboe and deflected the pass into the air towards the waiting arms of Spencer Adams, who came down with the critical interception.
Though Harris will be leaving Orlando after stating his case as one of the top cornerbacks in the country, he claims he didn't come to the game seeking validation.
"My object to come here wasn't to prove to anybody how talented I was," Harris said. "I was just coming to have fun and this game was preparing us and it was a great game."
Fortunately for the Red, Harris couldn't cover both sides of the field. Five-star prospect Julio Jones had a field day on the opposite side of Harris and became the only consistent offensive option for the Red offense.
Jones caught three passes for 59 yards in the first quarter alone and his six receptions for 97 yards on the day accounted for all but nine yards of the Red team's total offensive production.
Jones found openings in the Silver defense all afternoon, was very dangerous after the catch and took several big hits and hopped right back up after each one.
He showed a good rhythm with Glennon, who started at quarterback and completed 5-of-12 passes for 88 yards on the day to claim Red team MVP honors.
On the defensive side of the ball the Red had standouts at each level of the defense.
Whitlock came up big with the late interception for a touchdown. Meanwhile, Will Hill and Burton Scott exchanged big hits from their secondary positions all afternoon long.
At linebacker, Uona Kavienga played a sideline to sideline hard-nosed brand of football and up front, Tyler Westphal was all over the offensive backfield using his long frame to get into throwing lanes and pressure the quarterback.
Blue chip superstars like A.J. Green, Julio Jones, DaQuan Bowers and Brandon Harris certainly lived up to their hype, but it was the overshadowed Kyle Parker that emerged as the unexpected hero.