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January 3, 2009
West wide receivers live up to expectations
U.S. Army All-American Bowl coverage | More all-star coverageMORE:
SAN ANTONIO - In last year's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the top ranked prospect in the nation Terrelle Pryor put on a one-man show as he led the East to victory.
This time around, it was Rueben Randle's turn to prove he deserves the distinction as the best in the land.
He did not disappoint.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver from Bastrop (La.) High hauled in a game-high seven receptions for 75 yards.
Not a dominating performance, but given the circumstances, Randle was pleased.
"My hamstring slowed me down a little bit so I really couldn't run my deep routes like I usually do," he said. "But overall, I was happy with my play, even though it was a little bit of a gimpy performance."
"Rueben is an incredible player, incredible athlete," said West offensive coordinator Mark Logan. "I'm glad I got an opportunity to coach him."
Randle practiced very little during the week in preparation for Saturday's game because of the hamstring injury.
"At the beginning of the week it was bad, really bad," he said. "I didn't think I was going to be able to play. But my mom and dad brought me pills (Celebrex) and that helped make me capable of playing today."
Randle said he first injured his hamstring in August and shortly after returning to full health, he re-injured it during his team's first-round playoff game.
"Now that my season is over and this game is over, I am going to shut it down, get treatment and get healthy," Randle added.
Patrick Patterson also lived up to his ranking as the fourth best receiver in the country. Rivals.com also ranks him as the wide receiver with the best hands from the Class of 2009.
On the West's first possession of the second half, Patterson out jumped an East cornerback and made a one-handed touchdown grab. The 28-yard pass came from Tyrik Rollison.
"We had thrown a couple hitches to Pat so we thought if we called a hitch and go we could get them to bite on it," Logan said. "Tyrik put it up there so he could make a play and Patterson did. It was a heck of a catch.
"I hope I made SportsCenter's [top 10] plays countdown," Patterson said with a smile.
Upon returning home, Randle and Patterson will both shift focus to their future. Neither has made their college decision yet.
Randle has already taken an official visit to Oklahoma and he has lined up trips with Oklahoma State for Jan. 9 and Alabama for Jan. 16. LSU is the other program still in the running for his signature.
"I'm down to those four," Randle confirmed. "I can't wait to make my decision. I wish I knew now. But it takes time, so I am not going to rush it.
"It is a tough decision because all of those schools are great, they are very comparable. Each of them will give me an opportunity to come in and make an impact as a freshman. So I am going to take those official visits, sit down and evaluate everything I need to evaluate. I need to make the right decision because I am going to be there for the next four years of my life."
Patterson has yet to take his first official visit. But he has lined up trips with Alabama for Jan. 9, Southern Miss for Jan. 16, Ole Miss for Jan. 23 and Tennessee for Jan. 30.
"It is going to be a busy month," Patterson said. "But I feel like I want to wait until I take all my visits before I decide."
The only West player to announce his college decision on Saturday was Bryce McNeal. The four-star wide receiver from Minneapolis (Minn.) Breck hinted that he was going to choose Oregon, but instead picked Clemson.