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January 1, 2012

Under Armour matchup: Blur QB vs. Highlight DB

MORE: Under Armour storylines | Full coverage

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Under Armour All-America game is set for Jan. 5 (7:30 p.m. ET) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, and the contest will feature many standout players from across the country. The Blur team has three excellent quarterback prospects, most notably five-star dual-threat standout Jameis Winston, a Florida State commit. When on, Winston and the others are three players who can absolutely pick apart a defense, especially an opposing secondary. The Highlight defensive backs, led by five-star safety Landon Collins, are sure to be tested early and often. Will that group be up to the challenge? It better be if the Highlight team is to have any chance in this game. Here's our breakdown:

The players:

Blur quarterbacks: Jameis Winston (Hueytown, Ala.), Zach Kline (San Ramon Valley, Calif.), Tanner Mangum (Eagle, Idaho).

Highlight defensive backs: Landon Collins (Dutchtown, La.), Bryson Echols (DeSoto, Texas), Chaz Elder (Banneker, Ga.), Trae Elston (Oxford, Ala.), Joshua Holsey (Creekside, Ga.), Terry Richardson (Cass Technical, Mich.)

The breakdown:

Winston is the obvious headliner of the quarterback group. He's tall, athletic, quick, poised under pressure, can throw from the pocket or on the run and typically has been very accurate. Winston is talented and agile enough to make something happen even when there's nothing there. Using his feet, he can keep a play alive longer than most quarterbacks his age. That can put a lot of pressure on an opposing secondary. Kline, a Cal commit, and Mangum, who is committed to BYU, are four-star signal callers. It will be particularly interesting to see how Mangum does this week. Rated as the country's No. 2 pro-style quarterback, being from Idaho he no doubt has never seen the speed he will encounter this week at practice and in the actual game. How well - and how quickly - can he adapt to that? One thing we know: He certainly has excellent skills and, like Winston, is known for his accuracy. All-star games typically install offenses that rely on short, quick throws so the quarterbacks don't have too much to take in and too much to think about once kickoff arrives.

The Highlight secondary counters with more than a few fine prospects of its own. Collins, who is currently uncommitted, is the headliner and has schools such as Alabama, LSU and Tennessee in a furious fight for his services. The 6-foot, 199-pounder covers a ton of ground and is a big-time hitter. He also is capable of providing excellent run support. Elder, who will commit at the game (South Carolina has long been his leader), has an excellent frame and always seems to find the action from his spot at safety. Among the cornerbacks, Holsey, an Auburn commit, stands out because of his excellent speed and coverage skills. He is, however, listed at only 5-9, 171 pounds. The opposing quarterbacks have receivers with good size, so you can bet Holsey will be challenged. A confident player, he likely won't be intimidated by the prospects of that happening.

Keith Niebuhr can be reached at Keithrivals@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @KeithRIVALS.



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