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January 8, 2003
All-American Bowl East Standouts
With a dominating 47-3 win over the West in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this past Sunday, the East squad was loaded with standouts. Here's our take on the Top 10 in the game from the East.
QB Chris Leak -- Concerns about Leak's height still remain, but he had no problem raising his game to the level of his opponents on Sunday. Leak threw three touchdown passes and looked mature beyond his years compared to the other quarterbacks in the game. Gator fans rejoice, Leak is going to be fun to watch for years to come. And remember, Rex Grossman wasn't that tall either and he did pretty good for himself at Florida.
DE Victor Abiamiri (right) -- If Jorrie Adams from the West is the No. 2 offensive tackle in the country, what does that make Abiamiri? The talented defensive end, who was one of the youngest players in the game, beat Adams a few times with speed and power in the first half. Abiamiri was held in check for the most part in the second half, but he dominated the early part of the game and was too much for anyone to handle one-on-one.
WR Andre Caldwell -- The No. 1 wideout in the country didn't disappoint with a 70-yard touchdown catch and a long kickoff return. Caldwell showed great hands and excellent speed in the open field. When he touched the ball, things happened.
WR Jayson Swain -- Swain showed off his combination of speed and strength and displayed his red zone ability and scoring potential by grabbing two touchdown passes in the game. He's too big for most cornerbacks and too fast for safeties so he'll provide some serious matchup problems for Tennessee opponents over the next four years.
TE Louis Irizarry (left) -- The athletic tight end from Ohio made two huge plays on special teams by blocking one punt and pouncing on West punter Cody Freeby for a safety after a poor snap. Fans didn't get to see Irizarry in the passing game, but he's clearly a playmaker on special teams.
S Ryan Mundy -- Mundy was the talk of the week's practices for the East squad and had a great game with two interceptions. Going up against some very talented wideouts from the West, Mundy didn't miss a beat and has to have Lloyd Carr and company drooling over his potential.
WR Adarius Bowman -- Bowman was the most impressive wideout in practice during the week leading up to the game and he showed flashes of that potential throughout the game. He hauled in a touchdown pass, like every other East wideout, but also showed off his speed, hands and physical ability. The UNC Tar Heels have themselves a future star.
S Prescott Burgess -- Michigan brought in the Fab Five in basketball less than a decade ago and now they're spoiled with riches in the defensive backfield. Mundy and Burgess played together for the first time and the duo look to be an amazing team for the next four or five seasons. Burgess' pass deflection in the first half led to an interception and he also showed his ability to support against the run with a few nice tackles. The only question regarding Burgess is whether he'll stay a safety or become a linebacker, but either way he'll be an impact player.
DE Bryan Mattison (right) -- OK, Mattison was blocked by a tight end for most of the game and the West's offensive line scheme was awful, but he still showed excellent quickness off the edge and that all-important motor that never stops. He's a perfect fit for the Iowa Hawkeyes defense and looks to be a much better pass-rusher than we first thought.
CB Ambrose Wooden -- How good an athlete is Wooden? Although he hasn't played defense in three years and was never a true cornerback, he took on the explosive West wideouts in man-to-man coverage after just a few practices. Wooden seems to be a natural at whatever he does and showed good hands on his interception and excellent closing speed throughout the game.
Additional kudos are in order for the East offensive line for a dominant effort.