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January 15, 2005SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Cornerback Derek Pegues of Batesville (Miss.) South Panola did something at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday that none of the East cornerbacks could do throughout the week in practices in preparations for the game - stop Patrick Turner.
Turner, the standout receiver from Nashville (Tenn.) Goodpasture had been the hottest player on the turf all week long, but Pegues put him on ice with man-to-man coverage that would have made Deion Sanders proud.
"I had a good week of practice, and I knew that everybody was talking about how great the East receivers were," Pegues said. "So I made it my goal to go out there and take care of business. I wasn't going to let them, even Turner, get open on me."
And he didn't, helping him be named Rivals.com's West defensive most valuable player for the game.
The East coaches tried a number of times to throw the ball deep with Turner and almost every time Pegues was there sticking to him stride for stride. A few times the balls were over thrown because Pegues' physical play in coverage didn't allow Turner to hit full stride. And then when Turner was able to go up and get the ball, Pegues was often there to knock it away.
Turner finished with two catches for six yards and both of those came on slip screens in which Pegues helped come up and support the tackle.
And also don't forget that Pegues picked up a key first down on the fake punt in the second quarter. That fake punt eventually led to a touchdown and kept the momentum going for the West squad, helping them win 35-3 on Saturday.
Pegues was solid throughout the week of practice, but he wasn't as impressive as he was on Saturday. He definitely brought his best game when the lights were turned on.
The 5-foot-10, 183-pound cornerback is already ranked as the nation's No. 9 cornerback, and he could move higher after his performance on Saturday. It's easy to see why LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Tennessee are all battling hard to land his commitment.
"Derek was the most impressive player to me in the entire camp," Allen, Texas, defensive end Marcus Shavers said earlier this week. "I would put him right up there with (five-star outside linebacker) Ryan Reynolds."
While the other most valuable player honors were somewhat easy to pick, the West defensive honor was a tough one to figure out.
Along with Pegues, defensive tackle Roy Miller of Killeen, Texas, had a monster game. He was able to make several big tackles in the first half and then again late in the third quarter. But the game was nothing but par for the course for the newest Texas commitment.
Miller, who is 6-foot-2 and 302 pounds, took over on Wednesday when he dominated - no took over - an 18-play full-padded scrimmage. If the scrimmage were a live game situation, Miller would've had four or five quarterback sacks.
"He's (Miller) been a force since the first practice," West coach John Barnes said. "He's just a very intense kid and he had a great day and he's going to be a great player for somebody in college. He was a dominating player and we enjoyed watching him today."
Miller said his high level of play this week can be attributed to the way he carries himself on the field.
"I don't want to say it like this, but I'm crazy," Miller said jokingly. "I constantly think about making big plays and getting to the quarterback."
There were numerous standouts along with Pegues and Miller on Saturday for the West defense.
Linebacker Travis Beckum seemed to be all over the field early in the game, and linebacker Phillip Dillard had an interception and made one of the bigger hits of the day. Defensive back Reggie Smith was impressive also as he almost broke a punt and took it to the house, along with picking off a pass in the second half.