The Army Bowl is one of the top showcases for high school football recruits in the country, and the SEC has obviously had numerous players put on outstanding performances in the game.
The 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl is scheduled to kick off Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on NBC. Plenty of future SEC players will be trying to start their legacy that day.
Some of the game’s more recent impact players have already shown a ton of promise at the college level. And while not all prospects deliver on their potential, the game has been a springboard for future national title winners and Heisman finalists. If a player wants to have a phenomenal college career, this game isn’t a bad place to start.
So let’s take a look at our completely subjective top five performances by SEC players in Army Bowl history:
5. RB Derrick Henry, Alabama – 2013
10 rush, 53 yds, TD, 2-point conversion run
Derrick Henry gave fans a nice preview of what he would become at Alabama in the 2013 Army Bowl. The future Crimson Tide running back carried the ball 10 times for 53 yards and scored a first-quarter touchdown from the 2-yard line for the East.
It was one of only three scores in what was otherwise a very defensive-minded game. He also ran the ball in for a two-point conversion late to help push the East to a 15-7 win.
Henry would of course go on to win the Heisman and a national championship with the Tide in 2015.
4. DE Dante Sawyer, South Carolina – 2014
3.0 sacks, total loss of 17 yards
The only defensive player to make this list, Dante Sawyer was an unstoppable force for the East in 2014. Sawyer had three solo sacks, an Army Bowl record, and was the only player on his team to bring the quarterback down at all. The South Carolina commit had to spend his first season at East Mississippi C.C., but he enrolled in summer 2015 and could have a greater role with the Gamecocks as a senior in 2017.
3. QB Shea Patterson, Ole Miss – 2016
6-of-9 passing, 90 yds, 2 TD, 1 rush, 9 yds
Shea Patterson energized the Ole Miss fan base when he committed in 2015, and he put on a nice show just a few days before arriving on campus in January 2016. The future Rebel was extremely efficient, averaging 10 yards per attempt and connecting on two touchdown throws from 35 and 10 yards. His performance earned him the game’s MVP award and helped the West cruise to an easy 37-9 victory.
Patterson made good on his 5-star status as a recruit this season, starting Ole Miss’ final three games and throwing for 880 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions.
2. RB Derrius Guice, LSU – 2015
2 receptions, 153 yds, 2 TD
Everyone knows Derrius Guice for his running ability, but his skills as a receiver made him the star of the 2015 Army Bowl. The future LSU star touched the ball twice, and that’s all he needed. He scored touchdowns of 91 and 62 yards on those two catches en route to MVP honors and a 39-36 win for the West.
Guice filled in shockingly well for Leonard Fournette this season. Some even think he may be the better NFL prospect of the two backs. If that ends up being the case, he will be another success story from this game.
1. QB Chris Leak, Florida – 2003
7-of-12 passing, 165 yds, 3 TD
We go way back for the Army Bowl’s top SEC performer, because it’s a performance that has yet to be matched. In 2003, Chris Leak was an easy choice for the game’s MVP. He threw for 165 yards and three touchdowns, including a 78-yard strike to future teammate Andre Caldwell. His performance led the East to a dominant 47-3 win.
Leak committed to Florida at halftime, and it was the beginning of something special for the Gators. Leak helped lead them to an SEC title and a BCS national championship in 2006.