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Updated Apr 30, 2015 - 2:13 pm

Top football recruiting class from Arizona leaving a lasting impression

Photo by Jim Redman

Desert Mountain’s Kyle Allen was one of many Arizona recruits to impress in last weekend’s national high school football showcase events.

The impression the 2014 class will leave on Arizona football has only gotten deeper in recent days.

The annual showcase games — the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl and the like — are just about over, and area players kept up its high standard heading into signing day.

Four players from Arizona were selected for the Army’s All-American Bowl as quarterback Kyle Allen of Desert Mountain (Scottsdale) was the starting quarterback for the West squad and one of his main targets was Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) receiver Jalen Brown.

Photo by Lester Rosebrock

Mark Andrews, Desert Mountain

Desert Mountain wide receiver Mark Andrews, who had one catch and is headed to Oklahoma, and Mountain Pointe offensive guard Natrell Curtis, who is undecided after decommiting from Washington, also logged plenty of minutes in the 28-6 win for the West.

Allen, who is enrolled early at Texas A&M with hopes of replacing Johnny Manziel behind center if he leaves for the NFL, completed his first eight passes and finished 12 of 18 for 183 yards.

He started 8-for-8 with three of those completions going to Brown, who had three catches for three first downs in his final high school game before starting classes at Oregon this week, and showed his accuracy while eluding some defenders.

Allen, who is considered the top pro-style quarterback recruit by most services, including 247Sports, showed the confidence and swagger in the taped skills contest and in-game interviews that will serve him well during Texas A&M’s spring ball.

“If they are saying I am going to replace him, I like it,” Allen said during the broadcast. “I have to get there first and I have to do it first. Nothing is for sure, but I am trying to get the starting position.”

There was another handful of players in Carson, Calif., for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Sunday:

Hamilton (Chandler) defensive end Qualen Cunningham (Texas A&M), Greenway (Phoenix) long snapper Nate Adams (Maryland), Chaparral (Scottsdale) wide receiver Tyler Whiley (Arizona State), Sabino (Tucson) tight end Matt Bushman (BYU) and Sabino offensive tackle Andrew Mike.

Photo by Jim Willittes

Jalen Jelks, Desert Vista

Both bowls introduced the players to the discipline and resiliency it takes to carve out a career in the military.

“I want to take back these life lessons I’m learning,” said Cunningham. “That’s what I value the most. … It’s real cool to be out here and to have this experience.”

Desert Vista (Phoenix) defensive end Jalen Jelks is next up, as he will represent The U.S. Under-19 National Team when it takes on Team Canada at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 at Maverick Stadium at the University of Texas-Arlington in the International Bowl.

Jelks, who had 10 sacks and is committed to Oregon, was selected as a defensive end.

The Under-19 competition kicks off two days after National Signing Day, when Team USA and Team Canada players will sign national letters of intent during a morning breakfast event.

Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona Republic and current Ahwatukee
Foothills News staff writer, is a 19-year sports writing veteran. Follow
him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN and contact him at

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