It's all-star game season, the time where top recruits get pitted against top recruits and fans can catch a glimpse of what may be coming their way in the form of their signees.
The practices for the Under Armour All-American Game got started Tuesday, the first such event to get going this year. Michigan has three commits – running back Kareem Walker, offensive lineman Ben Bredeson and linebacker Devin Bush – in the game.
Bredeson was highlighted by Scout national analyst Greg Powers as one of the top performers during a somewhat light day one.
"They did not do a whole of one-on-ones, but what I saw of him in limited action was really good," Powers said. "He is really put together. He's a strong kid, big, and you see the word 'guard' next to his name, but for how good his body looks, he looks like a tackle."
A high school offensive tackle who is expected to move to guard in college, Bredeson's early performance suggests the Wolverines may have position versatility with him.
"I could see him playing some tackle at the next level," Powers said. "He has good feet and he played right tackle today against some good guys and showed tackle skills. It was only about four reps against defensive end type guys in one-on-ones, but between the two teams, he was one of the top two or three offensive linemen here. He's a 'get off the bus' guy for sure."
All-star game practices do not typically make for an ideal forum for running backs to show their skills because of the limited contact and live reps. As a result, Walker, a five-star back, will have to wait until game time to truly show himself, although the flashes of his considerable talent were noticeable on the first day.
"It was tough to gauge Kareem," The Michigan Insider's Josh Newkirk said. "I stood over there for a long time to see them running offensive plays and he had a nice run at the end and caught a ball out of the backfield, but there was not much run for the running backs today. I stood next to him and he looks close to 210 pounds and he looks like he can still add a lot of weight. I think he will be a bigger back at Michigan. It wasn't full speed out there, but you can see why he's rated as high as he is."
The lack of contact makes it a similarly difficult situation for a linebacker like Bush to truly showcase his abilities. Practice can be a good indication of a linebacker's speed and athleticism, which happen to be two of his best attributes.
"He is about 5-foot-11, 230 pounds," Newkirk said. "He moves well. You see that he has some baby fat still, but once he gets into a college weight program, he will be able to compete based on what I saw today. He can move, run with running backs and go sideline to sideline. They weren't hitting, but the way he moves, he looks like a guy who can eventually be a starter for Michigan."
One uncommitted prospect Michigan fans will have their eyes and ears on all week in Orlando is defensive tackle Rashan Gary, the nation's top overall recruit and one who has Michigan in his final group of schools.
Gary told Newkirk on day one that he considers Walker a "best friend" and that he will visit Walker, an early enrollee in Ann Arbor, in January.
When he put the pads on, Gary left little doubt about why he has been so highly ranked and recruited.
"He was the cream of the crop today," Newkirk said. "He's such a luxury because you can put him outside at end or inside and no one could really contain him. He can bull rush you, use a swim move, run around you; he's the elite of the elite. There is a reason he is the number one player in the country. There was nobody better than him and he said he was a little out of shape, but I couldn't tell at all."
The Under Armour All-American Game will take place on Saturday at noon. It will be televised on ESPN2.
Other all-star games
* The Semper Fidelis All-American Game will be on Sunday. Michigan wide receiver commit Brad Hawkins and defensive end commit Ron Johnson, both from Camden, N.J., will participate in that contest.
* The U.S. Army All-American Bowl will begin their practices next Monday, with the game being played on Saturday, Jan. 9. Quarterback Brandon Peters, offensive lineman Michael Onwenu and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott are the three Wolverine commits participating. Several targets, including cornerbacks David Long and Lavert Hill, and wide receiver Dylan Crawford, are also playing in the game.
* The Offense-Defense All-American Bowl practices are all this week before the game takes place on Saturday. Michigan offensive tackle commit Erik Swenson and running back commit Chris Evans are playing in the game. Penn State kicking commit Quinn Nordin, who takes an official visit to Michigan next month, is participating, as is Nittany Lions defensive line commit Michael Dwumfour, a prospect who Michigan may still have interest in.
Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.