UGA commitment Da’rick Rogers was among 84 high school blue-chippers who took to the field Saturday in St. Petersburg at the Under Armour High School All-America Game. But much to the chagrin of Bulldog faithful, the receiver from Calhoun struggled throughout while a band of future Florida Gators stole the spotlight at Tropicana Field.
A week of wavering by Urban Meyer regarding his future at UF apparently did little to dissuade the future plans of several top Gator commitments, including game Co-MVP Dominique Easley. The defensive end from Staten Island, who had originally committed to Penn State, was one of two players that committed to UF in a showcase event that featured six live verbal commitments in all.
Easley spearheaded a Black Team defense that harassed White Team passers throughout the first half, efforts that led to the first touchdown of the game. Safety Jonathan Dowling, who had already committed to play in Gainesville, roamed 54 yards to paydirt on the first of his two picks, snatching an errant pass from Jesse Scroggins early in the opening quarter. The PAT attempt by Auburn-bound Cody Parkey was no good. It was the first of four misses on the day by Parkey (two FG, two PAT).
Solomon Patton, who will be joining Dowling in Gainesville, hauled in a pass moments later from Nick Montana to make it 12-0 for the Black. Montana, the son of NFL legend Joe Montana, is slated to sign with Washington. A bad snap on the PAT stayed the margin.
The first White Team score of the day came on a fumbled punt return that Brandon Coleman returned 26 yards. The ensuing PAT made it 12-7 at 6:24 of the second period.
While the game also featured safety Alec Ogletree of Newnan, who like Rogers, has committed to UGA, it was Rogers who was in the spotlight and mostly for the wrong reasons.
Rogers made his lone catch of the day on the White Team’s second drive of the game but experienced nothing but futility afterward. Rogers first failed to come up with a catch on a fade route late in the first quarter.
Miscommunication with his signal-caller, Boston College commitment Chase Rettig, also cost Rogers in the first half. An overthrow late in the second resulted in yet another missed opportunity. Rogers then failed to make a grab off a scrambling run just seconds before the half.
As Rogers struggled to get untracked, teammate Jordon James, a California athlete bound for UCLA put the White Team in scoring position with a 40-yard catch and run midway through the third period. The ensuing play, however, saw Rogers drop another pass. The white team coughed it up a play later when Easley sacked Rettig.
Texas product Darrius White, the nation’s top-rated receiver, returned a punt 35 yards for a touchdown to boost the Black Team’s lead at 5:48 in the third. Parkey’s PAT made it 19-7 at that point.
The Black extended its lead to 26-7 with 1:58 left in the third on a 24-yard strike from Phillip Sims to Texas commitment Michael Davis.
White scored his second TD of the game, hauling in a short pass from Detroit QB Devin Gardner (Michigan) just minutes into the fourth period. Parkey missed the extra point, leaving the count at 32-7.
Rogers returned Parkey’s ensuing kickoff 27 yards to the 29-yard line to give his team one of its best starting positions of the game. But Rogers suffered yet another drop moments later on a fade route. Two snaps later, he missed on a diving attempt near the sideline. The teams then traded interceptions, the latter coming by UF commitment Josh Shaw of the White Team, who victimized Montana.
Late in the fourth, White made his verbal selection of Texas over of Florida, LSU and Oklahoma State, giving the Longhorns their seventh representative in the game.
At that point, though, the Black Team had all it would need for the 32-7 victory.
The game’s commitment showcase also featured new verbal announcements from cornerback John Fulton, who had been considering UGA. However, Fulton became one of seven Alabama commitments in the game when he gave his verbal to the Tide late in the first quarter of the game. The Manning, SC product also shunned UF and LSU with his selection.
The Gators also missed out on WR Kenny Shaw from Orlando, who opted for FSU. The Gators, though, earned a verbal Saturday from another wideout, Chris Dunkley of Pahokee.
Meanwhile, cornerback Tony Hurd, Jr. from Missouri City, Texas didn’t let Georgia’s domination of Texas A & M in the Independence Bowl beset his plans to become an Aggie as his selected A & M during the contest.
The game also featured highly-touted running back Mack Brown of Lithonia. The standout ball-carrier from M.L. King, ailing recently from a hamstring injury, was among the first to re-affirm his commitment to UF last Saturday, upon the original announcement that Meyer would be stepping down.
Despite Rogers’ disappointing afternoon and the fact that the Dawgs missed out on Fulton, UGA still has much to look forward to in the days ahead. UGA currently boasts the #4 class among the ESPNU Top 150, behind Florida, Texas and Alabama.
National Signing Day is February 3.
Jimmycrackedcorndawg is a self-appointed recruiting guru with way too much time on his hands.