January 6, 2012

Tide commits have big night at UA game

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. | It was a good night for Crimson Tide fans. The 2012 Under Armour All-America Game turned into a showcase for the five University of Alabama commitments as well as for the two new additions to the Tide's class, Landon Collins and Cyrus Jones, who committed during the game.

Miami wide receiver Amari Cooper got things rolling in the first quarter when he caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Florida State commitment Jameis Winston. Cooper went up over two defenders to make the catch and took it 40 more yards for the score.

Cooper, who shined all week at the Under Armour practices, made another big play in the fourth quarter when he returned a punt 93 yards for his second touchdown of the game.

"I didn't even know it was that long," Cooper said. "As soon as I caught it, I didn't even know I was going to take it back because there was like 10 people in front of me. I was looking around, I saw a crease and I took it. That's how it went."

With the game nationally televised on ESPN, Cooper saw it as a preview of what it's going to be like when he gets to Tuscaloosa.

"It's great," he said. "It's just like a preview before I go to Alabama because all of the games are going to be on TV, and I'm just excited. I think I played a good game, and I'm happy."

Alabama linebacker commit Reggie Ragland also had a solid game for Team Blur with five tackles, including two for a loss. Like Cooper, Ragland had an impressive week of practice and wanted to showcase his ability during the game.

"I wanted to prove that I'm the best linebacker in the country," he said. "I just wanted to come out here, do my thing, show everybody I can play, and I think I did that a little bit. It didn't even feel like I was playing on national television. I just came out here and had fun with my team."

The biggest hit of the night came from five-star Eddie Williams, another Tide commit, who laid out Miami commitment Randy 'Duke' Johnson in the second quarter. Williams plans to move to wide receiver when he gets to Alabama but got one last big hit in.

"My favorite play, like I said, was when Eddie Williams hit Duke Johnson," Cooper said. "It got me hyped up. I was like, 'yes, he's going to Alabama with us.' We're going to have a strong class."

The class got even stronger during the game when Collins and Jones each announced their commitment to Alabama in the fourth quarter.

Just minutes before putting on the Crimson Tide hat, Jones intercepted a pass for Team Blur off a deflection and returned it 40 yards the other way for a touchdown. The Rivals250 athlete also plans to move to offense when he gets to UA.

"It was great," Jones said. "We were playing cover three, and I just read it. I actually thought the ball was going to go over his head, but it kind of tipped, and I just made the best play on the ball that I could. Fortunately, I was able to take it back for six. It was just a good play overall."

Still, the biggest moment of the night for Alabama came off the field when Collins, a Louisiana native, picked the Tide over LSU. The Rivals100 star held up the Alabama gloves to signify that's where he was going.

During the game, Collins had an interception and also made a key stop at the goal line to prevent a touchdown.

"Alabama had a good night," Ragland said. "Everybody did what they had to do. Eddie had the big hit on sidelines. Amari had that catch. Landon had a bit hit for us, and I think we should be the No. 1 class now.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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