January 2, 2008

West notebook: The circus act

SAN ANTONIO - Earlier in the week, the West team developed the nickname "circus act" for Cypress (Texas) Cy-Fair running back Sam McGuffie.

They call McGuffie the "circus act," because no matter what time of day it is, he's always doing something flashy.

"He was randomly doing flips in the lobby yesterday," Oklahoma commit R.J. Washington said. "He was vertical flipping too, he wasn't doing it on the run. He was just flipping right there.

"I don't know how he does it. It's like the white Reggie Bush. He's dangerously athletic."

During the "shake and bake" portion of Wednesday's U.S. Army All-American skills competition in the Alamo Dome, McGuffie's circus act skills stole the show. Washington used McGuffie as his Guinea pig, and did a running front flip over the top of him.

The 6-foot-4 Washington is actually not the tallest person McGuffie has ever gone over the top of either.

"I did one over J.B. Shugarts a couple months ago at this his high school," McGuffie said. "He's 6-foot-7. We were just messing around, hanging out and stuff."

So where does McGuffie's freakish athletic ability come from? When you look at McGuffie in just street clothes, there is no way one could guess he possesses a 43-inch vertical.

Growing up in Houston, McGuffie said he spent some of the early years of his life working out with gymnasts, and that's where he learned most of his acrobatic skills from.

"There was a gymnastics place down the street from me when I was a kid," McGuffie said. "I used to always go up there when I was a kid, because I was bored. I did this like in third grade before I knew what football was. I used to always go over there and watch them practice, and they were like 'what are you doing over here.' I was like 'I don't know, I don't have any money to pay for it.' But they were like, 'we don't care, you can come be on the team with us.' They were like if you like it this much, come hang out with us, so I did."

One of the more notable acrobatic moves that ever happened in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was when current Cal receiver DeSean Jackson did a running front flip in the 2005 game. The only problem was Jackson fumbled the football and landed one yard short of the end zone, giving the East team the ball back, instead of seven points for the West.

McGuffie wouldn't tip his hand as to what we can expect to see from him on Saturday, but don't be surprised if he pulls out a "DeSean Jackson" type moment.

"I told Sam he could a flip if we scored and we didn't need the extra point," West head coach Bob Jones joked. "I said 'you can do a flip.'

"Last year, I did the backward chest bump with Ryan Mallett, but Ryan has a little higher vertical than I do and he's 6-foot-7, so he hit me in the head with his butt and knocked me down. I'm not sure I can do any of that stuff."

Floyd shows off his skills

One of the more impressive moments during Wednesday's West practice in the Alamo Dome was a spectacular one-handed catch made by St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall wide receiver Michael Floyd.

The 6-foot-3, 200 pound Notre Dame commit hauled a ball in from Parkway City (Mo.) West quarterback Blaine Gabbert that had no business being caught. The ball was completely over thrown, but Floyd jumped up and pulled it in with his left hand.

"I was about ready to tell Blaine (Gabbert) don't worry about it because he over threw him," Jones said. "Then his hand came out of nowhere like Spiderman and brought it down. It was great catch. It was unbelievable.

"I don't know about the kids, but I'm just starting to get those butterflies in my stomach to watch these kids play."

The 'Big Tuna'

One of the things Jones installed during Wednesday's practice in the Alamo Dome was a two back goal line offense.

The only problem is, the West team doesn't have an actual fullback on the roster, so Jones worked quite a few different faces in at the position.

Two of the main guys that saw action as a fullback were Denver (Colo.) Mullen safety Nolan Brewster and Mandeville (La.) linebacker Michael Mauti.

However, Jones said he's also looking at using 6-foot-2, 315 pound defensive tackle Solomon Koehler at fullback as well.

"We are really thinking about bringing in the 'Big Tuna', which is Solomon (Koehler) our big Hawaiian warrior," Jones said. "We'll bring in the 'Big Tuna' and just turn him loose. He told me he's an all-conference fullback."

What's the deal with the hair?

Nobody in San Antonio has a prettier hairdo than Keller (Texas) Fossil Ridge defensive end R.J. Washington.

Washington joked and said people have told him he looks like "Sideshow Bob" from the Simpsons.

"I've always had crazy hair," Washington said. "I think I pull it off pretty well."

Quick hits

• The four Oklahoma commits in the Army Bowl have planned watch party for Wednesday night at the Westin to catch the Sooners in tonight's Fiesta Bowl game against West Virginia.

• South Jordan (Utah) Bingham teammates Austin Holt and Justin Sorensen are the first ever BYU commits to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Before this year, the state of Utah only had two Army All-Americans, but in 2008 they have three different players on the West squad.

• The West team held a 90 minute full-padded practice inside the Alamo Dome on Wednesday. The West will come back for morning and afternoon workouts on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Blossom Athletic Complex.


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