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January 2, 2012

Catching on: West receivers impressing

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SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Army All-American Bowl draws many of the top high school football players in the country. But when the players arrived Sunday, one player drew all of the attention.

Dorial Green-Beckham.

Beckham, a wide receiver from Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest, is the No. 1 overall prospect in the country. And even though the 6-foot-6, 225-pound pass-catcher broke the national record for career receiving yards this fall, he has remained a bit of a mystery to most of the other top players as he has not done many interviews and has never attended camps.

So far he's fit in on and off the field.

St. Louis (Mo.) DeSmet's Durron Neal said he doesn't mind taking a backseat to his teammate.

"There are all the tops guys in the country here and I think we're all confident in our own abilities," Neal said. "He's the No. 1 player in the country so we knew coming in that, of course, he was going to be the focus so we knew that we all had to come in and do our parts."

Rosenberg (Texas) Terry head coach Tim Tekyl, who is coaching the West wide receivers this week, liked what he saw from Green-Beckham on the field.

He was even more impressed with the receiver off of it.

"I had no idea anything about Dorial being the top player in the country until about 30 minutes ago," Tekyl said after Monday's practice. "They were telling me all his accomplishments and everything. From the way he carries himself you never would know that. He is a great kid. He is incredibly humble and all these guys look up to him. He and Bralon Addison, they're the glue that keeps these guys bonded together."

It was easy to tell at practice that the receiving corps already has become a close-knit group. Addison says it is no coincidence.

"We had an immediate bond," Addison said. "As soon as we got the hotel, everybody figured out what position we were. Coach Tekyl had talked us being a small family and that's what we feel like already.

"You hear about some of the guys, and I was at The Opening with some of the guys, so I knew who most of them were coming in. It became pretty much an immediate friendship. We all have the same goal and that's to beat the East."

With only one day of practice under their belts Tekyl says he is blown away by what he has seen so far. By all the receivers.

Tekyl said the players all seemed to come prepared both physically and mentally.

"We told them you cannot go any farther than where we are until they grasp what we're doing as far as putting in our packages," he said. "We put 29 plays in today. That's ludicrous. That's absurd. These guys are so far ahead of the curve.

"They've got great work ethic. They're like dry, crusted-up old sponges on the shelf - everything you tell them they're absorbing it and it's sticking. That means they're very hungry to succeed."

Green-Beckham towers over the rest of his fellow receivers. They are not the biggest group. Neal, however, sees a lot of advantages to having quite a few guys on the shorter side.

"We've got a lot of speed among us," he said. "The guys can play - they're fast, they're quick and they can catch. We've got one big receiver and I think it's to our advantage because he can spread it out and go deep and then we're open underneath.

"I've honestly been impressed with every single receiver out here. I hadn't seen Bralon Addison before and he definitely surprised me. He's quick and has great hands. He's a really good player."

Addison agrees that there is a lot of depth that will be tough to stop in Saturday's game.

"Every receiver out there has their own thing that they do well," he said. "Dorial, he's the No. 1 receiver in the country and you can see why. He does a lot of great things. Durron Neal, he's really good. Jordan Payton had a really good day as well."

Tekyl says he is in awe of the group and says he is simply excited to spend time around them. He also has been pleasantly surprised at how down to earth they seem when many younger athletes all seem to have huge heads.

"They're incredible," he said. "They're very gifted, there's no doubt about it. There's no doubt they're playing in this marquee event, though, because they worked to get here.

"They're very complimentary of each other. The chemistry is amazing. That's what's blowing me away because usually when you come to an event of this caliber they all have an ego. These guys left their egos at home. They didn't have to be told about their egos by the coaches."



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