Big Win for Little Man in Lopsided Under Armour Prep All-Star Game
After several days of entertaining practices featuring the top high school players in the 2024 High School class, the Under Armour All-America Game was a runaway Wednesday when Team Ice dominated Team Fire wire to wire, putting up an onslaught of 24 first-quarter points. Ice scored on two pick-sixes in the first half.
That was a microcosm of the 39-9 game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. in which quarterback Michael Van Buren starred in a nationally televised, ESPN game. He certainly strengthened his standing with Mississippi State, which won a surprisingly lively recruiting battle to get him. Scouts and recruiters have a mixed bag of opinions on the 5-11 1/2, 180 pound quarterback from, St. Frances Acade,om Bowie, MD, whose ratings range between three and four stars. But he is a player who everybody agrees is as solid a citizen as they come. More on that later.
Wide receivers Ryan Williams (committed to Alabama) and Jeremiah McClellan (signed to Oregon) put together solid games for themselves as well, with Williams catching the first touchdown of the game and McClellan being a favored target of Van Buren.
Fire did manage to score a touchdown, albeit with its defense, with Florida signee Aaron Chiles getting a scoop-and-score toward the end of the game.
While the game was never especially competitive, Chiles and Myles Graham were standouts on the Fire defense throughout. The game also featured two commitments, with wide receiver Braylon Burnside committing to Mississippi State and 2025 No. 1 running back Harlem Berry committing to LSU.
As for Van Buren, he was impressive enough to receive offers from Oregon, Maryland, Penn State and Rutgers. In the end he chose Mississippi State on Dec. 10, 2023 after decommitting from Oregon on Dec. 2, 2023. Van Buren had been committed to the Ducks since May and chose them over Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, Maryland, Tennessee, Miami, Oklahoma and others. He was ranked as the seventh-best player in Maryland and the 13th-best quarterback by 247Sports’ composite rating.
The personable nature of Van Buren is reflected in a story by Baltimore St. Francis Academy coach Messay Hailemariam.
After throwing four touchdowns in his first varsity start — against California powerhouse De La Salle — Hailemariam said Van Buren helped him wash the team’s uniforms.
“He was helping with the laundry,” Hailemariam told 247Sports. “That's the type of guy he is. The type of leader. He is the whole package. From Day 1, he has been very coachable. He’s extremely humble but he's confident. He had a different swag to him.”
Away from football, Van Buren likes listening to Lil Durk and his favorite food are fruit snacks. He plans on majoring in physical education. His parents are Monique Walker and Michael Van Buren Sr.
Notes, Quotes, Observations
The 2024 Under Armour All-America In Orlando from Camping World Stadium showcased college football's next wave of future stars all week in practice.
Here are notes from three days of practice, culled from scouts on location and prep recruiting sites 247Sports and On3.com. This list shows 13 players who may impact college football in the 2024 season (Including Hall of Football ratings on NFLDraftScout.com, where applicable):
CB ELLIS ROBINSON IV, GEORGIA 5-STAR (HOF No. 3 overall, No. 1 CB)
Per 247Sports: It’s not easy to crack the two deep at Georgia as a true freshman, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But if there’s one member of UGA’s No. 1-ranked class that looks destined to do it, it’s Ellis Robinson IV. The New York native put together one of the top defensive back performances in Under Armour All-America Game practice history on Sunday, picking off three passes and getting his hands on a few more. Robinson is exactly how you want a new-age cornerback to look: He’s over 6-foot-1 and blessed with long arms. More importantly, he can run. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him push some older Bulldogs for playing time.
QB DJ LAGWAY, FLORIDA 5-STAR SIGNEE (HOF No. 17 overall, No;. 3 QB)
Per247Sports: Graham Mertz is going to be the starter when Florida opens the 2024 season up against Miami, barring some unforeseen setback, but it’s hard to envision Lagway not seeing the field at some point as a true freshman after sizing him up over the past few days. Lagway is built like a front-seven defender (he’s a legitimate 6-foot-3, 230 pounds) and he’s a dynamic runner who totaled 953 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground as a 12th grader. The quarterbacks were protected by their non-contact jerseys all three days of practice, but Lagway still showcased the ability to create and get outside of the pocket when things broke down.
WR CAM COLEMAN, AUBURN 5-STAR SIGNEE (HOF No. 10 overall, No. 3 WR)
Per247Sports: We keep bringing it up, but we will once again reiterate that Auburn hasn’t had a 1,000-yard wide receiver since the 1999 season. The smart money should be on Cam Coleman bucking the trend. Coleman dominated both Sunday and Monday’s 1-on-1 sessions and looks like a legitimate go-to target on Saturdays with the combination of his length, speed, and hands. His ability to sink his hips at the top of his route and get out of his breaks was impressive, but so was how he fought for positioning at the catch point. Coleman totaled just 532 receiving yards as a junior, but doubled that number as a senior, hauling in 61 passes for 1,372 yards and 18 touchdowns.
OT JORDAN SEATON, COLORADO 5-STAR SIGNEE (HOF No. 14 overall, No. 1 OT)
Per247Sports: Jordan Seaton entered the new year as the top-ranked offensive tackle . ...There’s a good chance that he will finish there once the rankings finalize, as he was solid all three days in practice. Seaton spent his senior season working at left tackle for IMG Academy and graded out extremely well. There’s no question that he’s athletic enough to protect a quarterback’s blindside, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he ultimately settled in as a right tackle at some point down the line. Regardless, he looks like he’s ready to go — which is obviously big for the Buffs, who gave up a Power Five-leading 56 sacks this past season.
DL DAVID STONE, OKLAHOMA 5-STAR SIGNEE (HOF No. 7 overall, No. 1 DL)
Per247Sports: From a pure competitor standpoint, there aren’t many wired like David Stone, who had one of the loudest voices on the field. Stone was excellent as a senior at IMG Academy and picked up right where he left off when the 1-on-1 drills started Sunday, as he was able to win with both speed and power. The Sooners spent three years fighting for Stone and the investment should pay off as he’s the type of interior rusher that can dent protection and create plenty of pressure in the middle. He was also very active when his team scrimmaged and able to make some stops in backside pursuit.
ATH TERRY BUSSEY, TEXAS A&M 5-STAR COMMIT (HOF No. 25 overall, No. 1 ATH)
Per 247Sports: Terry Bussey is one of the most versatile prospects in the country. While there’s still plenty of debate as to whether his ceiling is higher on offense as a wide receiver or defense as a safety, our big takeaway coming out of Orlando is that he’s way more physically developed than we thought coming into the event, and likely won’t need a year or two in the weight room before he can make an impact on Saturdays. Bussey will play offense on Wednesday after showing plenty of wiggle as a route runner during practices. He’s also expected to be featured on special teams, which will likely be the case at the next level, as well.
WR JOSHISA TRADER, MIAMI 4-STAR SIGNEE (HOF No. 27 overall, No. 11 WR)
Per247Sports: Joshisa Trader has spent the past few years playing in the shadows of five-star Jeremiah Smith, the nation’s top-ranked prospect. With Smith at the All-American Bowl and not the Under Armour All-American Game, it didn’t take long for Trader to signal that he’s also pretty dang talented. Trader proved to be one of the best at creating separation and tracked the football extremely well, making a few highlight reel-worthy snags in the end zone. Miami wants to air it out with Shannon Dawson calling plays and Trader has the makeup of a potential weapon that can streak into the deeper third.
LB MYLES GRAHAM, FLORIDA 4-STAR SIGNEE (HOF No. 40 overall, No. 4 LB)
LB AARON CHILES, FLORIDA 4-STAR SIGNEE (HOF No. 87 overall, No. 8 LB)
Per247Sports: From a physical standpoint, there might not have been two better-looking linebackers in attendance than Aaron Chiles and Myles Graham. Chiles (6-foot-3, 222 pounds) has been billed throughout the cycle as more of a downhill linebacker that can get home on the blitz. He can do just that, but he also caught our eye in coverage on Monday, breaking up a pair of passes out by the sidelines. Graham (6-foot-1, 212 pounds) is also rocked-up and has the makeup of a potential Day 1 contributor just based on the build. The biggest obstacle for Chiles and Graham is likely going to be adjusting to the speed of the SEC, but the Gators — who have had plenty of roster turnover — might not have a choice but to get them on the field early.
CB IFY OBIDEGWU, OREGON 4-STAR SIGNEE (HOF No. 148 overall; No. 20 CB)
Per 247Sports: Oregon’s No. 6-ranked recruiting class has been lauded plenty behind the scenes at 247Sports because of its pass rushers. We remain bullish on that group but are ready to buy some stock in the defensive backs after watching Ify Obidegwu prepare for the Under Armour All-America Game and Aaron Flowers compete during the initial All-American Bowl practice. To put it simply, Ify was sticky. He was credited with multiple pass breakups as he stuck with wide receivers of all different sizes and fought through hands to make plays. The Ducks return plenty of talent in the secondary, but Obidegwu might be able to carve out a role sooner rather than later.
IOL EUGENE BROOKS, OKLAHOMA 4-STAR SIGNEE (HOF No. 357 overall, No. 24 IOL)
Per 247Sports: Eugene Brooks was by far the most consistent interior offensive lineman Sunday and Monday as he manhandled opponents during 1-on-1s. We knew that Brooks, who owns some of the top shot marks in the class, was full of power in the lower half, but we didn’t know that he was so polished from a technical standpoint as he constantly put his hands in the right place and was able to mirror with his feet. Oklahoma is losing five offensive linemen that started a bunch of games in 2023. Brooks could very well find himself fighting for one of the guard spots if he can quickly find his bearings.
WR CHANZ WIGGINS, VIRGINIA TECH 3-STAR SIGNEE
Per247Sports: Chanz Wiggins was one of the biggest surprises of the week as he saw plenty of targets come his way Monday when a few wide receivers were absent from practice. Back in the spring months, we saw Wiggins takeover multiple 7-on-7 games, but we wondered how he would fare against blue-chip defenders in a padded setting. He passed the test. The Hokies return their top three receivers from this past season, but Wiggins — who has plenty of size — could certainly avoid a redshirt, especially after going through Military Bowl practices with the team.
IOL ELYJAH THURMON, CLEMSON 3-STAR SIGNEE
Per 247Sports: Dabo Swinney remains lukewarm on the transfer portal, which means that true freshmen have to contribute for the Tigers. Elyjah Thurmon is one of the lower-ranked prospects on the game’s roster, but he got rave reviews from the UA coaching staff and had his moments during 1 on 1 drills. Thurmon, who just turned 17 years old, is far from a complete product, but he moves well on the inside and can find leverage. There might be some initial growing pains, but the developmental upside is there for Thurmon.
Some data in this article was aggregated from wires, On3.com and 247Sports.