With all of the media’s focus surrounding the Rose Bowl, it is easy to forget that the Under Armour All-American game was played on New Year’s Day with the Army All-American game coming up this week. These games are a great opportunity to see who is, and who could be, the next generation of Trojan stars. Although most of USC’s commitments and targets are playing at the Army game, there were a select few who did compete in the Under Armour Game.
USC’s lone commit playing in the game was offensive tackle commit Alijah Vera-Tucker. The Oakland, California product competed on the Armour team and helped in pass protection tremendously. His team only conceded one sack compared to six for Team Highlight, allowing his quarterbacks to throw for a combined 255 yards and two touchdowns. Team Armour ended up winning the game 24-21 and much of this was due to their ability to move the ball through the air. Tucker certainly played a role in his team’s solid offensive performance even if the running game did not get going with only 52 yards.
The Trojans also had a top target and former commit on Team Armour, Amari Rodgers. Rodgers is the son of USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin and was committed to the Trojans at the beginning of this recruiting cycle. He has since committed to Clemson, but from all indications, SC is still pursuing the 4-star talent. In the game, Rodgers earned most of his action on special teams where he returned two kicks for 40 yards. On offense, Rodgers had one reception for three yards, but struggled on the ground with four rushes for -12 yards. The Trojans may not be able to flip Rodgers from Clemson, but the Under Armour game was a good chance to see him in action if Martin is able to bring his son to Southern California.
Three other targets on the defensive side of the ball were outside linebacker Levi Jones, safety/linebacker Isaiah Pola-Mao, and defensive end D.J. Johnson. Jones is a top target for the Trojans out of Texas who just recently included USC in his final five schools. Johnson was once believed to be a USC lean before his commitment to Miami back in July. Lastly, the Trojans have recently stepped up their interest in Pola-Mao who is a relative of former Trojan great Troy Polamalu.
Of those three, Johnson certainly played the best. The Sacramento product recorded two of Team Armour’s six sacks on the day, proving to be an outside pass rushing menace. Jones also played well for Team Highlight, racking up five total tackles and one quarterback hit. Pola-Mao did not show up on the stat sheet, but he did earn some snaps and surely benefited from the coaching throughout the week during the practices leading up to the game.
Most of USC’s commits and targets will be playing at the Army game, but at least one player in the Under Armour game will be suiting up for the Trojans next season. Vera-Tucker is a very solid commit who will be signing his NLI with USC in a month, and there is a good chance at least one out of the group of four mentioned above will be joining him in Southern California. As of now, all of USC’s targets at the game would likely be considered long shots, but a lot can happen between now and National Signing Day. Regardless, the Under Armour game was a great opportunity for fans to see who could be the next generation of players who could lead USC back to the top of college football.