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January 2, 2009

UA Daily Rewind: Loston makes his choice

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.- Friday brought the first commitment of the week at the Under Armour All-American Game, as the nation's top safety decided to take his skills to the SEC. Review all of the day's action from Disney with the Friday Rewind.

1) LOSTON PICKS THE TIGERS

Five-star safety Craig Loston of Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower became the first of seven players expected to make their commitment announcements at this week's UA All-American Game festivities. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound prospect surprised few people by picking LSU over Texas A&M, Alabama and Oregon. After announcing during the taping of the skills competition, Loston was joined on stage by his cousin and fellow five-star prospect, quarterback Russell Shepard. Shepard, who is also committed to the Tigers, gave Loston a celebratory hug. Expected to announce at Sunday's game are Branden Smith, Andre Debose, Ray Ray Armstrong, Dyron Dye, John Martinez and Mark Brazinski.

2) PROSPECTS SHOW SKILLS

The players had a fun break from practice Friday afternoon while also having a chance to show off their competitive side during the taping of the Skills Challenge. All six quarterbacks competed in the Pass Attack accuracy challenge with the winner being five-star Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei's Matt Barkley, who impressed with every throw and was the most consistent of all contestants. An obstacle course event challenged the running backs and linebackers. South Carolina four-star all-purpose back commit Jarvis Giles took home honors in that event. The Lineman Challenge was the next competition and it was won by Las Vegas Bishop Gorman four-star defensive end Justin Chaisson. In the final event of the afternoon, a late addition to the roster took home the title. The Hands Competition, which was open to receivers, tight ends and defensive backs, was won by Honolulu Punahou three-star wide receiver and UCLA commit Roby Toma.

3) PEERS GIVE RAVE REVIEWS

A couple players drew rave reviews from their fellow teammates on Friday. When the three University of Texas offensive line commits in the game - Mason Walters, Thomas Ashcraft and Paden Kelley - were asked who the toughest player they had faced all week was, the answer was unanimous. Not a single one of the three paused before saying, without a doubt, that it was Florida State defensive tackle commit Jacobbi McDaniel. Walters, one of the game's largest lineman at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, said he had trouble getting leverage on the big five-star defender. Quarterback Russell Shepard singled out a few of his receivers for performing at high levels throughout the week, including Andre Debose and Nu'Keese Richardson. However, he agreed with many observers when he said that Ohio State commit Duron Carter was the top performer of the week. "(Carter) catches everything thrown to him. I'm not sure how he makes some of the catches that he does," Shepard said.

4) READY FOR GAME TIME

Both teams practiced in shorts Friday for the final full speed workout before Sunday's game. Despite only wearing shoulder pads and helmets, the players still had quite a bit of intensity since they only have a Saturday walkthrough remaining before kickoff. "Just because we didn't have full pads on didn't mean that we weren't getting after it," White team linebacker Manti Te'o said. "I think everybody wanted to make a last impression before the game. Everybody wanted to show what they could do. We definitely can't wait until Sunday, though. We really want to hit the other team."

5) BOWL GAME SMACK TALK

With players committed to many different schools, friendly trash talk has been common this week. With the Fiesta Bowl between Texas and Ohio State fast approaching, Walters, Kelley and Ashcraft let it be known they had full confidence in their future team to defeat the Buckeyes. Kelley said that he has made sure that Ohio State commits Melvin Fellows, Jack Mewhort, Duron Carter and Jaamal Berry were aware of their confidence. "I don't have to talk trash," Kelley said laughing. "They know that (Texas) is going to win, so it's pointless. They act like they have a chance, though. They're talking a little bit of trash. Duron, he's been jawing all week. We'll see on Monday. We won't be around here anymore, but I might just have to call him up."



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