MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama and Georgia ruled the regular season, while Auburn and Georgia Tech struggled.
The trend persisted into early 2013, when Christian Robinson, Quentin Dial and the Stripes squad hammered the Stars 31-3 in the inaugural Raycom College Football All-Star Classic at the Cramton Bowl Saturday afternoon.
With a bevy of NFL draft scouts in attendance for mostly players hoping to crack into the later rounds, those wearing the red jerseys left a much greater impression with their wire-to-wire dominance in front of 18,615 fans.
Robinson, a former Georgia linebacker, hauled in one of the Stripes’ three interceptions, following with an impressive 28-yard return dodging through traffic.
“We had very simple plays,” Robinson said. “By the time the game came, we’d been disciplined to be able to go out there and eliminate errors.”
Dial, a 6-foot-6 Alabama defensive tackle, recorded three tackles, two solo. Crimson Tide tight end Kelly Johnson was a game captain and had a 17-yard catch.
Alabama’s Jeremy Shelley, Carson Tinker and Damion Square and Georgia’s Michael Gilliard were also named to the victorious all-star squad.
Auburn was represented by linebacker Daren Bates (three tackles), tailback Onterio McCalebb (one carry for minus-5 yards and an 18-yard kick return) and left guard John Sullen. None are guaranteed to hear their name called in the NFL Draft’s seven rounds April 25-27.
“It’s an interview, this whole process for a couple months, everybody you talk to,” said Bates, the Tigers’ two-time reigning leading tackler. “This is something you can do for your life, or it’s something you can be doing for a year and you can be gone. It’s a business, so you have to go in with a business mentality.”
Bates switched from safety to linebacker after his freshman year, and while he played outside linebacker Saturday, he plans to take his shot at the pros back in the secondary at his natural position.
“It’s been hard. It’s like selling – you have to persuade them, you have to tell them I’ve done this before,” Bates said. “I’m going to keep on grinding and getting to it.”
Amassing 4,570 total yards in his college career, McCalebb is a little weary from his all-star tour – he participated in the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game on Jan. 11, and now prepares for the Senior Bowl in Mobile next Saturday.
“After my last class in Auburn, I started training early,” McCalebb said. “I started training before Christmas, so I got a headstart on everybody.”
Sullen got the start at left guard for the Stars, and was all smiles with his teammates even after the defeat.
“Everybody out here has the same goal,” Sullen said. “It’s a great thing to be able to find (people) to share those experiences and activities.”
Georgia Tech product T.J. Barnes recorded a sack of Jon Richt in the second quarter. An Enterprise, Ala. native, Barnes started all 14 games this year for the Yellow Jackets.
Columbus native Chris Hubbard, a UAB graduate and 2012 first-team all-Conference USA offensive lineman, got his crack at right guard, helping block for a Stripes squad that gobbled up 410 total yards.
A Carver product who was part of Jarvis Jones’ class, Hubbard played in 40 games for the Blazers, named to the league’s all-freshman squad in 2009.
“It was very fun, a lot of energy going out there playing everybody from different colleges,” said Hubbard, who’s training in Birmingham and has yet to sign with an agent. “It’s been busy, working out, finding agents, trying to work my way up to the next level.”