In the 2007 All-American Bowl Game Classic, we had 101 All-American Players who played in the Independence Bowl Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana and we were able to help 63 of them to get a College Football Scholarship.
That 2007 Game also it had another incredible story in it. Coach John Shuman of Fork Union Military Prep called me one day in December and said that he had a great cover cornerback by the name of Kareem Jackson. He went on to tell me that he was a great player from Georgia, but he could never get him on any of the Recruiting Lists. Coach Shuman asked me if I would take a Prep School player and I told him that I would.
So, In the 2007 Third Annual All-American Bowl Game Classic, Kareem Jackson #3 came to our first Monday practice, without a single scholarship offer, but he was impressive all week and was the “Buzz” of all of the practices. Then after he recorded two interceptions in the 2007 All-American Bowl Game Classic, on Saturday, he was offered a scholarship by the University of Alabama. Jackson, formerly from Macon Westside, Georgia and Fork Union Military Prep, would then start at cornerback for Alabama in two SEC Championship Games and on the 2010 BCS National Championship Team. Jackson came out one year early and he became a #1 Draft Choice in the 2010 NFL Draft for the Houston Texans.
The most interesting part of this incredible recruiting story about Kareem Jackson is what really happened before and after the All-American Bowl Game. Before all of the players got to the Hotel in Shreveport, I had paired everyone-up with their roommates. There was another great cornerback on the East Team named Chris Lett from Pensacola, Florida. Lett was already a Verbal Commitment to Alabama and I decided to pair them-up as roommates.
Being roommates for a whole week, Jackson and Lett becames great friends and after the game, The Crimson Tide invited the two roommates to come to Tuscaloosa for an Official Visit on the weekend after the game and they did just that.
The intriguing thing about this Official Visit for Alabama was that Lett was already Committed and Jackson was already a High School graduate; already had a passing Test Score; and was not obligated to go back to Fork Union Prep to graduate. The great opportunity for Alabama was that Kareem Jackson could sign with them immediately and enroll immediately and that is exactly what he did.
Jackson became the Starting Cornerback in the Fall after being a backup in the Spring. Jackson then was the Starting Cornerback for Alabama in two SEC Championship Games and the 2009 BCS National Championship. Jackson came out a year early and was the Houston Texans #1 Draft Choice in the 2010 NFL Draft.
The Kareem Jackson Story is one of the most Amazing Stories of the All-American Bowl Classic, but the Alfred Morris Story is just as incredible. I drove to Pensacola, Florida to do a one hour Radio Show near the end of the 2006 Football Season. As we were starting the Radio Show, there were several callers wanting to know about a Running Back named Alfred Morris of Pensacola Pine Forest. Morris (6-0, 222, 4.46) had gained a modest 391-yards and scored six Touchdowns as a Junior and he had never made a College Recruiting List and started his Senior year without any Fanfare or Publicity.
Then the Pine Forest rushing game became a dominating force and made it to the State Championship Game. Also as a Junior, Morris was more noted as a Linebacker, as he recorded 106 tackles and 8 sacks. After the Radio Show, I called the Head Coach of Pine Forest and asked him if he thought that Morris would be interested in playing in my 2007 All-American Bowl Game Classic, and he said that he would.
So Morris comes to our First Practice without a single Scholarship Offer. In the Practices, Morris was so outstanding on both sides of the football, that both the Offensive and Defensive Coaches wanted him on their side of the ball and so we decided to let Morris play on both sides of the Football. In the game on Friday, Morris returned a fumble for a Touchdown, ran for a Touchdown, and returned the Second Half Kickoff 95-yards for a Touchdown. Morris is still the only player in Nine Games to Score on both Offense and Defense. He was Voted as a Unanimous AABG Game MVP and on National Signing Date, Morris Signed with Florida Atlanta University.
Morris #46 was a Four-Year Freak for Florida Atlanta University and then he was Drafted in the Sixth Round and #173 Overall Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins along with RGIII who was the Redskins #1 Pick. Both Morris and RGIII were Starters in the Backfield for the Redskins as 2012 Rookies. Not many NFL people thought that Morris would rush for 1,613-yards and score 13 Touchdowns in his Rookie Season, especially with Super-Star RGIII in the same backfield. Incidently, RGII holds the MEARS RATING World Record with an incredible 2,224 MEARS RATING. RGIII did a 42-Inch Vertical Jump and ran a 4.36 in the Forty.
Another interesting player that was in the 2007 All-American Bowl Game Classic was a Tongan named Sam Fehoko from Hawaii. On the 2011 Texas Tech Football Guide Cover, Fehoko, was on the Cover. In 2007, Fehoko was a Defensive End freak who had just recorded 22.5 sacks as a Senior at Honolulu Farrington. He had a few offers, but he was still Flying Under the Recruiting Radar.
Lee Ziemba, was a big Offensive Tackle from Rogers, Arkansas who had over 40 offers and he was one of the Top Offensive Linemen in the Country. They showed-up as West Team players in my Third Annual All-American Bowl Game Classic.
Fehoko (In Photo) and Ziemba were both great players, but on Wednesday, after about five practices, I noticed Ziemba and Fehoko hanging out together and eating lunch with each other. I could not resist asking them what was going on. “Sam is the best Defensive End that I have ever faced,” said Ziemba. “We have really had some battles in practice.”
After Fehoko recorded three sacks and two other tackles for a loss in the game, Ziemba wanted Fehoko to be his teammate in college and who wouldn’t. After Ziemba committed to Coach Tommy Tuberville and the Auburn Tigers, he then tried to get the Tigers to sign Fehoko, but they did not have room for him.
Lee Ziemba #73 was the Offensive Lineman MVP of that 2007 All-American Bowl Game Classic, and he had 52 consecutive career starts for Auburn University; made Concensus First Team All-American; and played in the 2010-2011 BCS National Championship Game. Ziemba was also Drafted in the Seventh Round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers and later Coach Tuberville Coached Sam Fehoko after going to Texas Tech University.
DT Drake Nevis #92 (6-2, 298, 4.9) of Marrero John Ehret, Louisiana was one of the greatest Defensive Linemen in the Country, in 2006, but he Committed to Ole Miss early in the spring and he never got the publicity that some of the others were given. I don’t think that he was ever really blocked as a Senior in High School or even as a Senior in college. I went to see him play in one of the toughest games of his Senior year in High School and he had an incredible six Quarterback Sacks and then in another game, he recorded four sacks in the first half alone.
Nevis #94 was never blocked in the LSU Nike Camp and his name surfaced more than once as being the #1 recruit at that Super Combine. As a Senior, Nevis was selected to the 5A All-State Team. After weighing many offers from most every team in the South, Nevis decided to stay in state and he came to our First Practice as a Verbal to LSU. After being one of the best Defensive Linemen in the Country for LSU, I thought that he would be a #1 Draft Choice, but the Indianapolis Colts Drafted him in the Third Round and #87 Overall Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
I actually got a call on the 4th of July from Ben Bruneau of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, California, telling me that he had just signed a National Letter of Intent with UCLA. Bruneau was a phenomenon that had gotten lost in a Coast-to-Coast Transfer. Bruneau played at Miami Pace, Florida as a freshman and sophomore, but he moved to California to live with his Sister when his Mom got sick. The California CIF ruled that he had transferred for athletic reasons and made him sit out of football for his entire Junior season.
Bruneau was a Super Combine Freak as he recorded a 4.25 in the Forty and a 4.12 clocking in the Pro-Shuttle, but because of the transfer and then having to sit out his Junior season, College Coaches lost track of him and then there was no film to watch. Bruneau never made it to a College Recruiting List, until UCLA watched his 2007 All-American Bowl Game highlight film in which he caught a touchdown pass for the West Team, and then they offered!
At the 2006, NIKE Combine in Houston, Texas, I saw an unbelievable physical specimen by the name of Quentin Castille #19 from La Porte, Texas. He had just run a 4.5 in the Forty while weighing-in at around 220 pounds. Castille did not have any offers, and I invited him to play in the 2007 All-American Bowl Game Classic. Castille played in that game, signed with Nebraska, and then he scored two touchdowns for the Cornhuskers in their 2009 Gator Bowl Game win.
Another linebacker from Mobile Davidson, Alabama named Brandon Maye looked fabulous on his highlight film and I invited him to play in our 2007 All-American Bowl Game Classic. When he came to the game, he did not have a single scholarship offer. While at the game, he became good friends with three other players on the East Team that had already committed to play for Clemson. Those three players talked the Clemson Coaching Staff into offering him a scholarship and on National Signing Date in 2007, Maye signed with the Clemson Tigers and he then started for them as a True Freshman in 2007 and he also started for the Clemson Tigers in their 2009 Gator Bowl Game against Castille and the Cornhuskers. Maye was the Tigers leading tackler for the last three years for Clemson.
Maye is one of the most interesting players to ever play in our All-American Bowl Game Classic. Maye Started at Linebacker for Three Years for Clemson, but he also graduated in Four Years from Clemson and then he Transferred to Mississippi State with one Year of Eligibility Left and played his Post Graduate Season for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Terrell McClain (6-2, 290, 4.9) of Pensacola, Florida was a Super Combine Freak coming out of High School, but for some crazy reason, he was Flying Under the Recruiting Radar. McClain could Bench Press an amazing 425-pounds and he might have been the strongest High School Football Player on the Planet in 2006. McClain came to our first practice as a Verbal Commitment to South Florida, but he only had that one offer.
McClain was so strong and dominant, he could not be blocked in our 2007 All-American Bowl Game Classic, as he recorded nine tackles including two tackles for a loss, two quarterback sacks, and two quarterback hurries. All of the Coaches Voted McClain as the AABG Defensive Game MVP and after the game, he received several more offers, including South Carolina and NC State, but he stayed with the South Florida Bulls and signed with them on National Signing Date.
McClain started his last three years for the Bulls and recorded 19 Quarterback Sacks, including a key sack against QB John Brantley and the Florida Gators as a Senior. McClain then was Drafted in the Third Round and #65 Overall Pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft and he is currently playing for the Houston Texans.
Jerry “Jaye” Howard (6-3, 250, 4.6) of Orlando Jones, Florida was one of the Top Football Players in the Country in 2006. Howard was a Devastating Pass-Rushing Defensive End Freak on his Highlight Film as he recorded 116 tackles as a Junior and then he recorded 80 solo tackles as a Senior, including 18 Quarterback Sacks. What made this so impressive was that every person in the game and in the stands knew that the opposition was always running to the opposite side of the field that Howard would line-up.
Howard was a fabulous athlete who could play a lot of different positions at the next level and he was also a Super-Star in basketball. I will never forget his great loyality. Howard had committed to play in our 2007 All-American Bowl Game Classic, and he was very excited to play in our game. Then, about a week before we were to meet in Shreveport, Howard got a call from the US Army people wanting him to play in their game. Howard had a teammate that was supposed to play in our game, but he switched and played in the Army Game, but Howard made the decision to still play in our game.
Howard gave the Florida Gators a Verbal Commitment and he was Committed to the Gators when he came to our first practice, but Florida State was still trying to get him to switch, but he did sign with the Gators on National Signing Date. Howard was pretty sensational as a Defensive Lineman for the Gators and he was Selected several times as SEC Defensive Player of the Week, including the 2011 Opening Game Victory over Miami Ohio University when he recorded two sacks and led a Defense that allowed only four yards rushing in 22 trys.
Howard was released from the Seahawks before the 2013 Season started and was picked-up by the Kansas City Chiefs and is currently playing for the Chiefs.
Phillip “Speedy” Livas (5-7, 179, from Houma South Terrebonne, Louisiana was one of the most electrifying little backs that I had ever seen play. As a mere Sophomore, Livas rushed for 1,048-yards and scored 15 Touchdowns while earning District MVP. As a Junior, Livas scored 18 Touchdowns while averaging an incredible 46.5 yards per kick return. Then as a Senior, Livas rushed for another 1,936-yards, and scored 25 Touchdowns, while averaging 9.2-yards per carry.
I heard about Livas and I went to see him play. When I got to the game, I realized that every opponent was never going to kick the football to him, but in that game, the other team kicked the second half kickoff away from Livas, but he raced-over and still caught the football and ran 67-yards.
Livas was again Voted District MVP, but he still was not on any Recruiting Lists and he came to our first practice with only one offer from Southern Miss and he had given them a Verbal Commitment. Livas was pretty impressive in our early practices. In fact, in one Tuesday practice, Livas was so electrifying as he caught a pass and made at least four defenders miss him on his way in scoring on a long touchdown. Livas did this in front of about 40 College Coaches and a Louisiana Tech offered him and he accepted and later signed with the Bulldogs.
Livas #6 broke all of the Louisiana Tech and Western Athletic Conference Kick Return Records. As a True Freshman, in 2007, Livas ran a 76-yard Kickoff for a Touchdown against Nevada. As a Sophomore in 2008, Livas averaged 155 All-Purpose Yards per game and was selected to the All-WAC First Team as a Return-Man. As a Junior in 2009, Livas had Turf-Toe, but still averaged 98.6-yards per Touch.
Then as a Senior in 2010, Livas became one of the most dynamic players to ever play for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs as he tied the NCAA Record for career returns for a Touchdown. “Livas is the only player that has scored a Touchdown four different ways (reception, rush, punt return, and kick return) with each score being a play of 70-yards or more,” said Head Coach Sonny Dykes. Livas also averaged 137.4 All-Purpose Yards per game and even some of the Top Teams in the country struggled to stop him. As a Senior, Livas was Selected to the WAC Special Teams Player of the Week four times.
In 2011, Livas was an Undrafted Rookie for the Miami Dolphins and in a Pre-Season game against the Atlanta Falcons, he gave the Dolphins great Field Position as he averaged 28-yards on three Kickoffs. His greatest moment came with five minutes left in the Fourth Quarter when he returned a punt 75-yards for a Touchdown to give the Dolphins a 28-20 lead.
Alfred McCullough (6-2, 303, 4.9) of Athens, Alabama was considered to be one of the Top Defensive Tackles in the South. As a Junior, in 2005, McCullough was a Beast as he recorded 67 tackles and 11 sacks, but he saved the best until his Senior Season when he helped lead his team to the Alabama 5A State Championship by heating a very good Eufaula Team by a 10-7 score. Every team tried to Double-Team him, but did not have any success as he completely dominated every single Football game.
McCullough #52 gave the Alabama Crimson Tide an early Verbal and although every team in the South tried to change his mind, McCullough came to our first practice as a Verbal to Alabama. McCullough went to Tuscaloosa as a Defensive Tackle, but he was converted to an Offensive Lineman where he started in the BCS National Championship against Texas.
One day in 2006, my Cell Phone rang and it was the Mother of Marquis Maze. “Can my Son play in your All-American Bowl Game?” When I found out who it was, I said, “Of course, I would love to have Marquis play in our game.”
Maze (5-10, 180, 4.37) of Birmingham Tarrant, Alabama was a very dynamic little Running Back who was going to be destined to play Slot Receiver at the next level. I thought that Maze was sensational on his Highlight Film, but for some reason he was not being heavily recruited. Michigan had offered him, but Alabama and Auburn had not offered and since the two Alabama teams had not offered, Maze Committed to the Wolverines and he came to our first practice as a Verbal to Michigan.
Maze #4 was impressive all week in practice at our All-American Bowl Game and he was later offered by The University of Alabama and he accepted and Signed with The Crimson Tide on National Signing Day. Maze joined Alfred McCullough and Preston Dial on the Alabama Team in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game against The University of Texas and their Super-Stars, Lamarr Houston and Vondrell McGee.
Maze came into that 2010 BCS Championship Game with a second leading receptions of 56 catches for 627-yards behind Julio Jones who was the #1 Receiver for The Tide. I will never forget Maze pulling up lame in the First Quarter at the end of a fabulous 49-yard punt return. Maze was the University of Alabama leading receiver in his 2011 Senior Football Season and he Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers in April 2012 and he is still with the Steelers.
O’Neal Wilder (6-5, 205, 4.33) of Carthage, Mississippi was a Super Combine Freak and sensational at the 2006 Max Emfinger Jackson Super Combine. Wilder also had an outstanding Junior season when he caught 18 passes for 428-yards and a 23.8 yards per catch average. The amazing thing about Wilder was that he only played Football one year before his Senior Year and he never made any Recruiting Lists.
Wilder was a Track Super Star, but he showed-up at my Super Combine and did a 38-5 Vertical Jump and ran a 4.2 Pro-Shuttle. This was outstanding, but later in the passing drills, Wilder made two unbelievable catches and I offered him a chance to play in our game. Then, as a Senior, Wilder caught 26 passes for 643-yards and scored 11 Touchdowns; while averaging 24.7 yards per catch. In the Spring of 2007, after our All-American Bowl Game, Wilder won the Mississippi State 3A Championship in both the 200-Meters and 400-Meters.
On National Signing Day, Wilder Signed with Mississippi State to play Football and run Track. Then in the Spring of 2008, Wilder was still juggling Football Spring Training and Track to prepare for the Olympics. As a Freshman in 2008, Wilder was the USA Junior National 400-Meter Champion and was ranked as the #2 Ranked Junior in the 400-Meters in the World. Wilder won the Bronze Medal in the 400-Meters at the IAAF World Junior National Championship. Wilder was also a member of the 4×400 Gold Medal Relay Team and was Selected to the All-American Track Team as a Freshman. Don’t be surprised if Wilder is not in the NFL some day.