Top prospects set for Under Armour game
Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 9:24 p.m.
LAKE BUENA VISTA — Some of the nation's top high school seniors will showcase their skills in the 2011 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game tonight.
In its fourth year, the game will take place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg at 7 p.m. ET, on ESPN.
More than 90 players selected by ESPN Scouts Inc., have split up to create the Click-Clack (Red) and Micro G (White) teams. Ten of those players are ranked in the ESPNU 150 player rankings., including the nation's No. 1 player, Rock Hill, S.C., South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Players have been practicing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports since Jan. 1.
NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka and former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci will serve as the teams' coaches. Ditka will coach Team Micro G, while Mariucci will coach Click-Clack. Both coaching staffs, selected by ESPN, will consist of former NFL coaches and players acting as offensive and defensive coordinators. Ditka will be assisted by former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, while former cornerback Deion Sanders will assist Mariucci.
"I cannot be more excited about coaching these kids and being a part of this game," Ditka said. "Coaching is my blood. It is what I do and what I love. Under Armour and ESPN bring out the best high school kids in the country, and I can't wait to help make them the best NFL players in the country."
Four current members of Florida's 2011 recruiting class will be on display as well. Click-Clack will be manned by Oviedo Hagerty quarterback Jeff Driskel, who is the nation's top quarterback prospect. Driskel will have the luxury of throwing to future passing targets in tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville University Christian) and receiver Ja'Juan Story (Brooksville Nature Coast). DeLand cornerback De'Ante "Pop" Saunders will suit up for Micro G.
A handful of prospects will make verbal pledges during ESPN's broadcast, including Miami Monsignor Pace safety Jabari Gorman. Gorman (Micro G) will choose among Florida, Ohio State or Miami. For him, having the opportunity to announce at this game is very special to him.
"I'm blessed to be here," Gorman said Monday. "Not too many athletes can actually say they played in the Under Armour All-America Game.
"The importance of (making his commitment) is doing it here. This is a great place to make a decision on national television with thousands of people looking."
Wadesboro, N.C., Anson linebacker Stephone Anthony, who is on Micro G, has been a fan of high school all-star games for most of his life. He grew up watching San Antonio's long-running U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but his interest has increased in the Under Armour Game over the years. Since watching 2008's inaugural game, Anthony made it a goal to be a apart of the Under Armour festivities.
"From that moment, I knew I was coming to this one," he said. "I'm really blessed to be here. You can see where you're at and if you can run with the big dogs, but were out here to have fun."