Three Represent NC

Derek Nicholson

Three North Carolinians will be among the 78 blue-chip recruits strutting their stuff during Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Sometimes referred to as "NC's Big 3," QB Jonathan Crompton from Waynesville Tuscola, TB Toney Baker of Jamestown Ragsdale, and LB Derek Nicholson of Winston-Salem Mount Tabor have been representing well against the nations best with all three having solid odds to start the game.

"The North Carolina guys are doing a good job holding their own," stated Scout.com East Coast Recruiting Analyst Miller Safrit. "I think that Crompton is doing a good job fighting for the starting position, Toney Baker, I wouldn't be surprised to see him start, and Derek Nicholson is probably going to start."

Although Greg Paulus is penciled in as the East's starting quarterback, according to many on hand, Crompton has made a strong case to be the first North Carolina starting quarterback in the All-American Bowl since Chris Leak took the helm two years ago.

"I think right now Paulus is the starter for the East," explained Safrit. "But Crompton is looking really good. Jonathan is right there with Paulus."

Injuries to Rashard Mendenhall of Skokie (Ill.) and Elan Lewis of Hampton (Va.) have provided Baker with a slightly better chance then Crompton to start the game. But in true Toney fashion, the Scout.com five-star recruit remains modest.

"I'm having a great time being around all these quality players from all around the country," stated Baker. "I'm just trying prove to people I belong."

Nicholson, on the other hand, will start by default. Using a 4-3 scheme and only owning four linebackers on their roster, Nicholson will man the middle linebacker position. However, don't think just because the starting slot was given to him that he hasn't impressed those in attendance.

"He's doing a great job filling up the middle and trying to make the reads," remarked Safrit of Nicholson.

Regardless, Nicholson is just trying to represent the Tar Heel State and show all recruiting and high school football fans throughout the nation that North Carolina produces talent with the best of them.

"We're representing," exclaimed Nicholson. "We're doing good. Me, Tony and Jonathan are doing our thing up here. We're trying to showcase North Carolina's talent."

Crompton seconds that thought.

"There's a great collection of talent out here," stated Crompton. "I know North Carolina players are just as good as anyone else and we're trying to prove it out here."

In closing, Nicholson had a message for the North Carolina fans at home.

"Tell all the people in North Carolina we're having a great time up here."

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