LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The first practice for the 2023 edition of the Under Armor All-America Game wasn’t really much of a practice. Sure, there was some positional world at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, but most of Friday evening’s two-hour session served as an acclimation period as both teams tried to install some plays before giving away to a skill challenge. With no 1-on-1s or 7-on-7 and limited full-speed 11-on-11 action, we’re decided against doing a traditional top performers. Instead, here are a dozen or so prospects that impressed in one way or another.
TE Duke Robinson – A lot of eyes were on Robinson, who earned a fifth star from 247Sports earlier this month. And after Friday night, we’re feeling even better about having him inside our top 32. The 6-foot-6 Robinson moved well during aerial routes and caught pretty much everything that came his way. He then turned heads when he won the “jump ball” challenge as he was able to adjust himself at the catch point and score what would have been multiple touchdowns. Robinson has already taken official visits to Georgia, Alabama, Texas and USC. He’s considering checking out Oregon in the coming weeks after not signing early.
DB Joel Aguero (Georgia signee) – Aguero was the defensive back that Robinson duked it out with Robinson in the finals of the “jump ball” challenge. While Robinson might have gone home with a trophy, Aguero showed that he could hold his own against a much larger skill player and was actually able to drive Robinson out of bounds on a pair of reps, which was pretty impressive. Aguero was also smooth during footwork drills and seemed to just break on the ball much faster than his peers. It won’t be easy to get on the field as a true freshman in Athens, but Aguero looks like someone who could push for snaps of some sort in Year 1.
DL Rueben Bain (Miami signee), DL John Walker (UCF) and DL Will Norman (Florida signee) – Team Speed went at it for a solid 10 minutes, and it was the defensive line that made things extremely difficult for the offense. Bain was probably the most productive of the bunch as he would have been credited with a sack and a pass break up, but Walker and Norman also made their presence felt up the middle and likely would have had a sack of their own had it been a full-contact scrimmage. All three defenders did a nice job of firing out of their stance and getting to work. We will see if that continues on Saturday.
QB Jackson Arnold (Oklahoma signee) and QB Jaden Rashada (Florida signee) – It has been a while since a quarterback showed up to the first Under Armor All-America practice and instantly raised some eyebrows, but that’s exactly what both Arnold and Rashada did. The two 247Sports five-stars were confident and accurate. Now, there were a few misfires once the bullets started to fly during 11-on-11 play, but this was an overall encouraging start for two signal callers that could very well end up being called upon in 2023. Arnold probably had the better night of the two, but Rashada didn’t look to be all that far behind him.
DL Adepoju Adebawore (Oklahoma signee) – Adebawore would have been on Thursday’s “All-Lobby” team, but he missed check-in. That’s fine because it didn’t take everyone on the sidelines long to start asking, “whose that?” Adebawore has all the traits with his 85-inch wingspan and freaky testing numbers, but what was probably the most encouraging thing about this outing on Friday night was just how much more comfortable and in control he looked during bag drills as opposed to back in June at UA’s Future 50 event. Adebawore still has a ways to go, but he’s got one of the highest ceilings out of anyone in Orlando this week.
WR Makai Lemon (USC signee) – Zero 1-on-1s wasn’t exactly ideal for the wide receivers, but Lemon still found a way to make a statement by winning the “hands competition.” In the last round, Lemon caught all six 45-mph passes that were launched at him point-blank by the new Monarch machine. Lemon also drew rave reviews from some of the coaches working the game. They noted that he did an excellent job of getting in and out of his breaks while attacking all different levels of the field. Lemon has noted in the past that he might play some defense for the Trojans, but he now claims that he’s all about playing offense on Saturdays.
TE Luke Hasz (Arkansas signee) – Hasz was another pass catcher that thrived during the “hands competition.” Now, let’s be clear. He’s not going to blow anyone away with his height/weight combination as his 6-foot-3, 245-pound listing seems to be pretty generous, but he’s a natural when it comes to plucking the pigskin out of the air and should be able to offers plenty of value in the SEC as an h-back that can be moved around before the snap in hopes of creating the right mismatch. Kentucky signee Khamauir Anderson seems to be in a similar mold as he lacks length, but he too has what it takes to move the chains in key situations.
More notes from Friday
– FSU offensive line signee Lucas Simmons is definitely the tallest player in attendance. That was clear after the two teams huddled up. LSU signee Zalance Heard is another monster. The same could be said about Alabama signees Miles McVay and Olaus Alinen. It was hard to dissect the different offensive line combinations for both squads, but there should be some more clarity Saturday on potential starting fives.
– Unsigned freak New York Harbor was with the tight ends and wide receivers. He started off strong, but faded a bit down the stretch. Harbor (to little surprise) just moves differently than others his size, but he’s got to learn the finer points of how to actually play offense at a high level and put himself in position to make plays. Can he consistently create separation against Power Five defenders? We will know Saturday.
-There was no real tackling, but Alabama signee Richard Young flashed on a counter as he beat a defender to the edge and probably would have generated a big game had the rules been different.
–Rohan Davy was a late addition for NC State. He’s got tweener measurables, but picked off a pass when Team Phantom was in 11-on-11.
-Oregon wide receiver signee Ashton Cozart hauled in a long pass from Arnold. Ohio State wide receiver signee Noah Rogers also made a series of difficult catches look relatively easy.
247Sports’ Greg Biggins, Brian Dohn, Allen Trieu, Bud Elliott, Mike Roach, Seam Bock and Gaby Urrutia all helped contribute to this report.