Stars vs. Stripes
Saturday, Jan. 19, 3 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
GAME NOTES: With the 2012 season over, college football players can now focus on their own personal goals as a series of all-star games appear in the calendar over the next several weeks. First up is the inaugural Raycom College Football All-Star Game which will be held at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama on Saturday.
Both sides will be directed by former head coaches from the NFL, as Dan Reeves and Jim Bates call the plays for the Stripes and the Stars, respectively.
For Bates, who spent 17 years in the NFL and was the interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2004, he'll have his pick of three quarterbacks with whom to entrust his offense to for this contest. Of the trio, the most high- profile signal-caller of the bunch is Pittsburgh's Tino Sunseri. Despite finishing with a 6-7 record with the Panthers this season, Sunseri still threw for close to 3,300 yards and 21 touchdowns, against just three interceptions.
Zach Maynard of California is another notable name who will see time under center for the Stars and surely he'd like to finish off this year with a more positive outcome after his team posted a record of only 3-9 and was 2-7 in Pac-12 Conference play. Maynard didn't appear in the final two games of the regular season for Cal when the squad was beaten up by Oregon and Oregon State by a combined 111-31.
The dark horse of the group is Murray State's Casey Brockman who earned 2012 First-Team All-OVC honors at the FCS level, as he completed a staggering 69.4 percent of his attempts for more than 3,700 yards and 28 touchdowns. A finalist for the 2011 Walter Payton Award, which is presented by The Sports Network to the top offensive performer in the FCS, Brockman finished his career with the Racers with 9,990 passing yards and 71 TDs.
Key receivers for those quarterbacks will be Jaron Brown of Clemson, Notre Dame's Robby Toma, Russell Shepard from LSU, Tennessee's Zach Rogers, Alan Bonner of Jacksonville State and Quentin Sims of Tennessee Martin, the latter an All-OVC First Team member who caught 86 balls for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns this past season.
Onterrio McCaleb might be the most recognizable name among the running backs for the Stars, but Jacksonville State's Washaun Ealey showed some moves this past season with 10 rushing touchdowns and three more through the air for the Gamecocks. Derrick Washington made a name for himself at Tuskegee in 2012 as he ran for an impressive 1,679 yards and 14 touchdowns and also caught 20 passes for another 305 yards and a score as he approached 2,000 yards of total offense for the Golden Tigers.
There are a number of powerhouse programs that have representatives on the defensive side of the ball for the Stars, ranging from LSU, Clemson and Ole Miss to some of the lesser-known schools such as Lane College, Elizabeth City and Charleston Southern. Although he played at the FCS level, garnering plenty of attention for himself while at Appalachian State this season was Jeremy Kimbrough, an aggressive linebacker who logged the third-most tackles in the country (143), was named First-Team All-American by The Sports Network and finished second in the balloting for the Buck Buchanan Award, recognizing the top defender in the FCS.
Coach Reeves has an interesting bunch for his quarterback crew, comprised of James Vandenberg of Iowa, Purdue's Robert Marve and Jon Richt of Mars Hill.
Vandenberg suffered through a tough campaign with the Hawkeyes that saw the squad win just four games and he personally ended up with more interceptions (eight) than passing touchdowns (seven), although he did add to his scoring total with four TDs on the ground.
With a late push during the regular season, winning three straight after losing five in a row, Marve was able to guide his Boilermakers to a postseason bout against Oklahoma State, although that meeting resulted in an ugly 58-14 setback for Purdue. However, when Marve was an active participant for the Purdue offense, he was one of the lone bright spots for the group, throwing for a combined nine touchdowns in the last four games on the schedule.
Richt, who originally planned to play for Clemson, is an interesting quarterback for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that his father is the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, Mark Richt. The younger Richt threw for almost 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in his final season with the Lions at Mars Hill, but at the same time had 20 passes picked off.
Since Richt is not known for breaking the pocket and making yards on his own, he'll leave that to running backs Gee Gee Greene (Navy), Perry Jones (Virginia) and Michael Hill (Missouri Western).
Greene was part of a running attack with the Midshipmen that ranked sixth in the country this season, averaging 278.5 ypg, of which he was responsible for a team-best 67.5 ypg. With so many options to turn to, Navy tried to spread the wealth in order to keep backs fresh and ready to go, which is why Greene didn't have overwhelming numbers.
Jones finished his career in Charlottesville with marginal success, generating 2,033 yards and eight touchdowns over the course of 48 games for the Cavaliers, while Hill was an absolute beast for Missouri Western this season as he ran for an incredible 2,168 yards and 16 touchdowns and caught 21 passes for another 220 yards and three scores for the Griffons of the NAIA.
Receivers Roy Roundtree and Jerry Johnson of Michigan and UCLA, respectively, will be sharing the field with Chip Reeves of Troy, Josh Jarboe of Arkansas State, Florida A&M's Travis Harvey and Tyron Laughinghouse of Saint Augustine.
Jarboe is a talent and an enigma, opening this past season with 13 catches for 66 yards and a score against Oregon and then coming up with just three more TDs the rest of the way. For his career he tallied 104 receptions for 1,300 yards and six scores.
Laughinghouse was selected to the Little All-America Third Team as an all- purpose player for the Saint Augustine Falcons of Division II, just the second player in school history named to the team. The streaking Laughinghouse scored three touchdowns on kickoff returns, one on punt returns and another 12 as a receiver who led his team with 59 catches for 801 yards.
Reeves has the luxury of having one of his former players giving the defensive backs a few pointers in Steve Atwater, one of the all-time greats from the secondary of the Denver Broncos. Atwater will be directing Cincinnati's Camerron Cheatham, Justin Green of Illinois, Greg Castillo of Iowa and Iowa State's Jeremy Reeves.
Perhaps even more interesting are the additions of Seth Thomas of McNeese State and Catawba's Jumal Rolle in the secondary. One of the top defenders at the Division II level, Rolle led his team and the South Atlantic Conference with six interceptions and finished his career with 16 picks to place fifth all-time at the school.
Hopefully this will be an opportunity for those players from the big schools who don't get all the glory to take over some of the spotlight, while the huge stars from tiny programs get to shine as well.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stars 31, Stripes 24
01/16 11:00:55 ET