Here we are again. The most wonderful time of the year carries on. This all-star game marks the home stretch of recruiting, when the dead period is finally over and players begin attending all-star showcases, competing in drills, practices, and trimming their list of schools and declaring who they choose on national television. These games are the last times we'll see these high school football players on the field until they're enrolled in an academic institution of their choosing.
The first of the major all-star games come on January 4th in Orlando, Fla., where some of the nation’s top prospects have congregated for the Under Armour All-America Game. And while Ole Miss is finally rid of the NCAA and their fascism, the recruiting has begun to pick up a bit. After signing a few four-stars in the early signing period, Matt Luke has some positive momentum going heading into the new year.
Let’s take a quick look at how you can tune in, then dive into the players you should be watching this year at Camping World Stadium.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We will update this post throughout the week with videos and analysis.
How to watch
When: Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018
Time: 5 p.m. CT
Recruits to watch
4-star WR Elijah Moore (Ole Miss signee)
The former UGA commit flipped on December 20th and joined Matt Luke’s 2018 class after signing his letter of intent during the first early signing period. Now, he puts his recruiting hat on and will get to work this week on a few names below.
The dynamic slot receiver will also be looking to not only get his hands on a few passes and get in the end zone, but he will also be interested in improving his stock before returning to Oxford for spring practice.
4-star LB Merlin Robertson
Aside from the incredible first name, the California native also has an incredible offer sheet. Cal, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, Southern Cal, and UCLA have all offered the 6’3, 241-pounder from Gardena, Calif. He might be relatively unknown to Ole Miss fans at the moment, but folks know who he is in Orlando this week, that’s for sure.
Rebel Grove’s Russell Johnson confirmed to me that Robertson is an emerging prospect for Matt Luke and this 2018 class and he is quite the intriguing tweener. Johnson says Bradley Dale Peveto likes Merlin on the inside but the way his frame is built and the way he runs, he could also make an impact off the edge. This is a name to keep an eye on and certainly someone to watch closely on Thursday.
4-star OL Richard Gouraige
The first name on Moore’s wishlist will be someone that fellow signee Matt Corral would like to see join the fold. The humongous prospect from the Sunshine State is the No. 7 offensive tackle in the country and would be nice to slide in at left tackle when Greg Little almost certainly abandons that post for the NFL Draft after next season.
He has been committed to Florida since October but is rumored to be close with Corral and could potentially keep his eyes and ears open this week. Clemson is also knocking on the door.
4-star WR Tommy Bush
Jacob Peeler and the nWo will be needing to reload after the 2018 season. And fast. Van Jefferson and Tre Nixon have transferred out and A.J. Brown, DaMarkus Lodge, and D.K. Metcalf will all be gone and the Rebs will need some toys for Corral to play with. In steps Tommy Bush, right? Maybe?
There might be a few names ahead of Bush and he has cooled on the Rebs as of late, but Peeler has reached out and Bush has to know that the offense is suitable for big pass-catchers who run well. The Schertz, Tex. native is the No. 37 receiver in the country and, much like Moore, will be looking to prove something during his week in Florida.
3-star RB Maurice Washington
A name that hasn’t been mentioned much as of late, the three-star running back from Texas has undeniable talent. At Trinity Christian High School, under the tutelage of head coach Deion Sanders, ran for 1,253 yards and 15 touchdowns in 11 games. Despite being a three-star, he is the No. 19-ranked back in the country and holds offers from Power 5 programs like LSU, Ohio State, and Southern Cal.
He will also be looking to elevate his reputation in Orlando and show that he can compete with the nation’s best in practice and in the game. As of now, it is unclear where Maurice is leaning, where he will take his official visits, or if he even qualifies.