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Under Armour All-America Game Players dish on recruiting, concussions and hairstyles



Crete-Monee (Crete, Ill.) receiver Laquon Treadwell says head-to-head hits are inevitable. / Tom Lemming

ORLANDO -- They may not be able to agree on the best use of the Cover 3 zone, but top football recruits are in sync when it comes to recruiting rule changes they would  like to see, the impact of greater concerns about concussions and whether the Honey Badger's blaze hairstyle is a good look.

USA Today High School Sports held a casual roundtable discussion with several players Wednesday after practice for the Under Armour All-America Game.

The recruits wouldn't mind seeing greater limits on phone calls by coaches, though texts aren't a problem.

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"I would change all the phone calls," says Crete-Monee (Crete, Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, an American Family All-USA First Team player who hasn't announced his college choice.

"I'm big on texts, not calls," says linebacker Kendell Beckwith of East Feliciana (Jackson, La.), who is also undeclared. "You can answer a text on your own time."

The recruits would also like to see greater flexibilty on official visits.

"Now that coaches can contact you earlier, you should also be able to make official visits sooner, like the summer," says running back Ty Isaac of Joliet (Ill.) Catholic, who has committed to Southern Cal. "During the school year, you're busy with football and now I have basketball, so there's not a lot of time to make all my visits before signing day (players can sign a letter-of-intent from Feb. 6 through April 1). You should also be allowed more official visits, like eight or nine, if you're interested in that many schools."

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Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) quarterback Brice Ramsey, who is enrolling early at Georgia, says by the time many players make their official visits, they've already made up their mind.

"Most people know where they're going to go to school already," Ramsey says. "They take officials just to go and have fun."

Beckwith agrees.

"I'll be one of those guys."

Ramsey, who started drawing recruiting interest as a sophomore, wouldn't mind slowing the process.

"I would change maybe when they're allowed to recruit you, make them wait until maybe your junior year, so you could focus on school and everything else," he says. "I was seeing interest from Georgia my sophomore year and it got really hectic. … It was kind of overwhelming at first."

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Despite the increased concern about head injuries, the players, all of whom said they haven't had a concussion, say they haven't seen much change in dealing with concussions.

"This game is violent and concussions will always be part of the sport," says defensive end Carl Lawson of Milton, Ga. "You really can't change that."

Ramsey says that at Camden County, players take preseason cognitive tests. If they fail the test after a concussion, they can't take the field until they perform better on the tests.

As a receiver, Treadwell says he worries about the hits he doesn't see coming.

"People now are more aware of the head-to-head hits," Treadwell says. "That's changed a lot, but it's still football and people are going to hit hard, no matter what. As a receiver you always have to worry about the blind-side hits. I went dizzy a couple of times, but I've never had a concussion where I had to sit out. Whether you make a big hit or somebody puts a big hit on you, you don't talk too much about it, you just go out and play."

If anything, players are concerned the increased protection of offensive players has gone too far.

"They call a lot of helmet-to-helmet hits and so much of football now consists of protecting the offense, but I'd like to see the defense have a little more leeway and I'm on offense," Isaac says.

"There are guys who lead with their helmets and you're not supposed to do that," Beckwith says. "But sometimes helmet-to-helmet hits are accidental and just happen because of the speed of the game."

While a lot of high school players have copied former Louisiana State player Tyrann Mathieu's dyed blaze of reddish-blonde, the recruits say they don't plan to emulate it any time soon.

"That's not my style," Beckwith says. "I like my look, just fade it a bit on the sides."

"That's not for me," Isaac says. "There is a guy at my school who has a mohawk and it's bleach blond in the back. Some people try to do it and it doesn't look good, but he pulls it off."

Ramsey, with close-cropped blonde hair, wouldn't try to copy the Honey Badger, but he sees another 'do he wouldn't mind trying.

"Most of the linemen now have 'the flow' going on. I think that's what's in right now. I'm trying to grow mine back out."

Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @JimHalley.

 

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