USA TODAY High School’s Sports’ Jim Halley is at practice in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., this week for the Under Armour All-America football game, to be played Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Here are five things he learned at the opening practice Sunday:
1. Hoover’s Humphrey is holding onto choice
Hoover, Ala., running back and cornerback Marlon Humphrey is the son of former Alabama running back Bobby Humphrey. As one of the few undecided players at the Under Armour Game and an American Family Insurance ALL-USA first team cornerback, he said he plans to announce his choice on Feb. 1. Though Alabama and Florida State are said to be his top two, he said he doesn’t feel pressure to follow his father’s footsteps to Tuscaloosa.
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“The only kind of pressure is the pressure you put on yourself,” Humphrey said. I don’t really see any pressure. (My father) told me he’s going to let me make my decision, so he really hasn’t told me, Bama or FSU. He just tells me things: 'Don’t go for the money or girls’ or whatever. He’s been through the same process, so he tells me the do’s and don’ts about recruiting.”
As far as his future position, that’s even less clear. Cornerback, running back, or both and kick returner, as he played at Hoover? They’re all a possibility.
“I definitely like to play corner, but wherever I go is going to be a big program, so wherever they use me, I’ll be more than happy to play at,” Humphrey said.
2. O’Connor coming full circle
A year ago, quarterback Michael O’Connor played in the Under Armour All-America Underclassman Combine. This year, after leading IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) to a 9-2 record in its first varsity season, he’s back as a player in the Under Armour All-America Game.
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“It was really awesome being the first team ever to play at IMG, but it also took some getting used to with the playbook and teammates, but by the end of the season, we were really rolling,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor, who is from Ottawa, Canada, has committed to Penn State and said he plans to enroll early.
3. Plenty of support for Ulmer
St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) quarterback Will Ulmer, who has said he plans to sign with Maryland, will not be lonely this week.
“Everybody is coming here, all my grandparents, my mom, my dad, my family, probably 15 people,” Ulmer said.
He’s listed as a wide receiver in the game, but still hopes to play quarterback for the Terps and could play in the game as a quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
4. Cook has a decision
Miami (Fla.) Central running back Dalvin Cook, a first-team ALL-USA selection, has committed to Clemson and to Florida. He backed out of the Clemson commitment in April and though he hasn’t publicly changed his mind about Florida, has been taking visits to other schools. This week, however, he plans to announce his decision on television, preferably at the Under Armour Game.
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“I’m done with my recruiting, I know where I’m going,” Cook said. “It will be on TV.”
He said that University (Fort Lauderdale) safety Quincy Wilson, who has said he will sign with Florida, hasn’t been subtle about pushing Cook toward the Gators.
“He’ll come in my room, start doing the Gator chomp, things like that,” Cook said.
5. Evans will wait for his choice
Many undecided players will announce at the Under Armor All-America Game because it’s a chance to give their choice on ESPNU. Rashaad Evans, a linebacker from Auburn, Ala., needs a little more time than that, however.
He’s considering Auburn, Alabama, UCLA and Georgia.
“It’s probably going to be signing day,” Evans said. “All the schools are even right now because it’s a dead period and colleges can’t get in touch with me. Also, I need to take my official visits.”
Evans led Auburn to a state 6A runner-up finish with 37 tackles, 17 sacks and 20 hurries.