National high school football all-star games seem to be increasing in popularity, earning television contracts, and receiving corporate sponsorships. This weekend there will be at least four all-star games, and three of which will feature Kentucky football commitments and recruits.
The results of the games matter little but the players will be exposed to a week's worth of college and NFL caliber coaching staffs during practice sessions leading up the game. If not already known, their flaws should be highlighted and they will learn what they need to improve on going forward. Additionally, the various recruiting services (Rivals, Scout, 24/7, and ESPN) will have journalists present during the week of practice and for the games. Prospects that have strong weeks may see a boost to their star rankings.
It's another measure for a healthy program to have players invited to these all-star events. It validates the coaching staff's recruiting, and provides opportunities for further promotion of the Kentucky football program among coaches, scouts, recruits, parents, and the national television audience.
Kentucky commit Drew Barker will be participating in one of the more popular all-star games: the US Army All American Bowl. In addition, UK target Matt Elam will be present as well and is expected to announce his college destination during the broadcast. Elam will be choosing between Kentucky and Alabama. According to practice reports, both Elam and Barker have had pretty good weeks facing top competition. Additionally, UK target - and current Ohio State commit - Marcelys Jones is also participating in the bowl game and has supposedly being rooming with Elam this week. Finally, big news broke Thursday afternoon by Rivals and 24/7 Sports. It seems that four star defensive back Erick Smith - currently believed to be favoring Ohio State - and defensive tackle Travontae Valentine - current Miami commit - are now seriously considering UK. The US Army All American Bowl will air on NBC this Saturday at noon EST.
Not to be outdone by a rival military branch, the US Marine Corps also sponsors its own all-star game named the Semper Fidelis All-America Bowl. UK commit Mikel Horton will be participating in this game. It will air on Fox Sports One Sunday evening at 9pm EST. Other players participating in this game that UK has an interest in are Kendall Randolph and Benjamin Knox.
Finally, Kentucky commits Blake Bone, Kobie Walker, Stanley "Boom" Williams, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Nick Richardson, and Adrian Middleton are all participating in Offense-Defense Bowl All-Star game. Reportedly, UK commit Denzel Ware turned down an opportunity to participate in this game due to its interference with his high school basketball season.This game will air online via ESPN3.com Friday at 5pm EST. It will be Bone's second all-star game after participating in the annual North Carolina versus South Carolina all-star game in which he hauled in seven catches for 55 yards.
The final all-star game, and possibly the biggest, is the Under Armour All-American Game which airs today at 4pm EST on ESPN. The talent on hand is staggering. Despite there not being any UK commits in this game I will definitely be tuning in to check it out. This will be the earliest opportunity to watch players who will likely come to dominate future Saturdays and Sundays.