Georgia’s finest represented in Under Armour game, practices

Note: This is a story I wrote for the Sunday print section advancing the Under Armour All-America Game and practices this week in Florida. I’ll actually be traveling to Orlando early Monday and filing live reports later in the day, so be sure to check back regularly all day all week. . . .

AJC Super 11 tight end Jay Rome of Valdosta is one of 10 elite recruits from Georgia I'll be covering at the Under Armour All-America extravaganza in Orlando and St. Petersburg this week. (AJC photo by Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com)

AJC Super 11 tight end Jay Rome of Valdosta is one of 10 elite recruits from Georgia I'll be covering at the Under Armour All-America extravaganza in Orlando and St. Petersburg this week. (AJC photo by Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com)

Jay Rome, a five-star prospect and the No. 1 tight end in Georgia, had his choice of national all-star games in which to play. The NUC All-World Classic, the Offense-Defense Bowl and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl all sent him invitations. But Rome went with this week’s Under Armour All-America Game in Florida. He and nine other elite recruits from Georgia left for Orlando Friday.

“One of the main things is it’s closer to where I live,” the 6-foot-6, 240-pound high school senior from Valdosta said of his choice. “So it’s easier for my family to come see me play. And it’s on television. All the combines are televised, too, which I like. So you want to perform.”

Rome is going where many before him have gone. While it’s only the fourth year for the annual high school all-star game – the Army All-American, played Saturdayjan8 in San Antonio, is the granddaddy of the all-star games — dozens of Georgia’s finest football players have flocked to the Under Armour, sponsored by the fast-emerging sports apparel giant.

After this year, 40 “Peach Staters” will have participated in the game and its resident practices and combines. They represent the best of the best the state has to offer.

For the second consecutive year the Under Armour roster will include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s top-ranked player in the state. Last year the representative was Calhoun wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, now a freshman at Tennessee. This year it will be Carver-Columbus running back Isaiah Crowell, whose ballyhooed recruitment has yet to be decided.

Other Georgians in the Under Armour this year are Troup running back Quan Bray, Griffin defensive end Xzavier Dickson, Gainesville linebacker A.J. Johnson, Valdosta wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, Pope offensive lineman Thomas O’Reilly, Mitchell County wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley, Carver-Columbus defensive lineman Gabe Wright and Tucker linebacker James Vaughters. They represent six of the AJC’s Super 11 preseason selections and six of the top 10 from the AJC Fab 50, a postseason list of the state’s best college prospects.

Their motivations for this week’s game (7:30 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN) vary.

“The swag,” Dickson said, only half joking.

One of the perks for being invited to the game is the loot its sponsors provide. The players will get sneakers, cleats, warmups, T-shirts and various other work-out gear. In addition they’re provided luxurious accommodations at a Walt Disney resort, great meals and several outings to Disney properties.

“For me it’s both business and pleasure,” said Dickson, who also played in the recent Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) North-South All-Star Classic in Columbus. “I didn’t think I played that well in this last game, so I feel like I have something to prove. But I want to have a good time, too, so it’s sort of fun and business.”

Dickson is one of several players who will announce their college choices during the game. He’s narrowed his list to Alabama, Auburn and Georgia. Bray is also supposed to make known his decision between Auburn and Georgia.

Others have long had their minds made up.

“We play the game on the 5th, I fly back on the 6th, I go to Auburn on the 7th and I start classes that Monday,” said O’Reilly, who will be an early enrollee at Auburn. “I feel like since I’m going in early I’m expected to perform. I need to do well to prove to everyone I can compete against the best.”

And the best of the best is who these players will encounter in the competition these players will encounter. Ninety players are divided, based on national ratings, into the Red team (known as “Click-Clack”) and the White (”Micro G”). They represent 70 of ESPNU’s 150 national-ranked players, including South Pointe, S.C., defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who is generally considered the No. 1 overall recruiting prospect in America. Current UGA star A.J. Green played in the inaugural game in 2007.

Practices and combines, many of which are broadcasts on ESPNU, are conducted at the Disney/ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. But the game will be played for the second consecutive year at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, a more fitting venue for what organizers believe is a big-time event.

“I’m very excited about it,” Rome said. “I’m hoping to have a lot of fun and make some new friends. But I really want to have a good time and make a good impression on everybody, too.”

Just being invited to this game is impressive in itself.

College Recruiting By Chip Towers

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67 comments Add your comment

south eastern chumps

January 2nd, 2011
9:22 pm

you UGA recruits need to run like HeII

1eyedJack

January 2nd, 2011
9:25 pm

I’ll be watching, for sure.

first

January 2nd, 2011
9:27 pm

Good luck guys

bigtime

January 2nd, 2011
9:32 pm

Thanks Chip, looking forward to tomorrows updates. Did Xzavier Dickson tell you what position that he will play next year at Bama ?

1eyedJack

January 2nd, 2011
9:37 pm

bigtime, if he’s at Bama next year the best he could hope for would be special teams…at Georgia though….

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
9:39 pm

I think Bama lands Xzavier Dickson and Malcolm Mitchell. I think Dee Hart took Crowell’s spot. Lets be honest… anyone who would pick UGA over Bama after watching the bowl games.. well I’d question if they were ever truely open to other schools.

Mama says

January 2nd, 2011
9:49 pm

Do any of you recruiting followers believe the showing in the Liberty Bowl, or this past season really helped any good recruit decide on UGA for his next level of education and athletics?

If you really want a kid to play for your school, the school has limited options.

1. Play a system that the recruits sees himself playing in.
2. Have top notch facilities
3. Offer educational support and athletic support beyond others
4. Offer a degree not offered at other schools
5. Win and Win alot
6. Graduate your players
7. Put and prepare players in the NFL
8. Pull an Auburn and just buy your players with slush fund money

After this past season UGA deserves little or nothing in regards of 5 STAR talent to sign

Mama says

January 2nd, 2011
9:51 pm

1eyedjack….that is a losers statement and you know it.

A player commits to a FSU, FLORIDA, or Alabam to win National Championships, wear the ring, play on Saturdays at 3:30 Eastern Time and play in real bowl game.

secbama

January 2nd, 2011
9:58 pm

Bama closes with Cyrus Kouandijo, Dee Hart, Xavier Dickson, Malcolm Mitchell, Jadeveon Clowney, and Isaiah Crowell.

Marces Dareus, Mark Ingram, Donte Hightower elect to go pro as Juniors, and Julio Jones shocks the world and returns for Senior season to win second National Title.

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
9:59 pm

amen mama… tell em like it is.

1eyedJack

January 2nd, 2011
10:04 pm

Mama says, you have no idea why these players commit and neither do I.

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
10:05 pm

secbama… the “insiders” are saying Julio is leaning toward returning. Dareus, Barron and believe it or not Maze are leaving early. Ingram has yet to make up his mind though I’d expect he will forgo his senior year as well. Upshaw thanked Bama fans on his facebook page for a great run… so it sounds as though he’s leaving early.

RRTDawgs

January 2nd, 2011
10:18 pm

Corey Moore knows were his friend is going and Dee Hart has i think helped UGA’s even more with getting Crowell that that green G on X. Dickson helmet will be replaced with a red & black G .

johnny too good

January 2nd, 2011
10:28 pm

this season’s wins & losses dont factor in much when it comes to choosing a school, I think playing time and the actual school itself has more impact on a committent or lack therof

http://www.youtube.com/user/ThatsJohnAnderson

layinlow

January 2nd, 2011
10:28 pm

I’m a diehard UGA fan and I will admit that Richt cannot turn it around and he will be gone next year. How many of these recruits families are worried that Richt will not be at UGA in 2012? I think that the majority of the fanbase has given up on Richt an it has to negatively affect recruiting. Unfortunately, I think we lose some of these guys who were 50/50 and they will end up going to their other option. And we could even lose guys like drew and crowell if other coaches get in their ear about the situation at Georgia. McGarity should have just bit the bulllet and cleaned house now and let the chips fall were they fall.

RRTDawgs

January 2nd, 2011
10:29 pm

Hey Chip do you think the Dee Hart switch helps UGA getting Crowell .

bigtime

January 2nd, 2011
10:35 pm

Blackoutanyone?, secbama, and mama says(mama is that you !?), glad to see some fellow Crimson Tiders on here . Roll Tide. I think Bama also lands Dickson and Mitchell and UGA gets Crowell ,Rome,and Swann. Great pickup today in Dee Hart, I think he could make an instant impact returning kickoffs and punts as well as some Percy Harvin type offensive plays. He is one of the most impressive playmakers in this class hands down.

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
10:37 pm

RRTDawgs..good to hear from you…i hate to be negative but our showing in the Liberty Bowl is going to hurt us severely i believe especially with all the negative talk with Coach Richt and his staff…I hope i’m wrong, but our showing was the worst thing that could happen and Bama, and others looked so good, how can a kid not be impressed..We will get some that are just bound to be a dawg, but others on the fence i believe we will lose…I hate to be negative and you know i’m usually not, but i saw nothing that inspired me in our play or our Coaches…I’m afraid that what others are saying about Coach Richt being a lame duck coach may be looked at by the recruits we are after…Sorry to sound so down, but i watched a coaching staff in my opinion give up on a game as shown by our lack of confidence in not going for it on 4th and inches, inches that is on the goal line….worst bit of play calling by a HC i have seen when you are a 6-6 team…very disgusted right now…give me something to be excited about with this coaching staff…

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
10:39 pm

@layinlow…unfortunately…i have to agree with you, our recruiting is going to take a hit in my opinion, and keep in mind its just my opinion based on what i saw from our coaches and team…the 50/50 players will be told that Coach Richt will be gone after next season and that will turn them i believe…hope i’m so wrong…

gcs

January 2nd, 2011
10:43 pm

Crowell has long known where he is going. He is just waiting for the spotlight to be on him before he announces.

.

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
10:44 pm

@bigtime…i hope your right but i don’t feel as good about the dawgs chances with any of them that you do…of course some could come our way only because you guys will run out of room…Bama was very impressive and made the SEC proud, not so much for the dawgs…no emotion from coaches or players from my vantage point..Up until that game i gave this staff every benefit of the doubt…that changed on Fri nite…4th and inches and you don’t have anyone capable of getting those for your team….whats the worst that could happen there, mayber the other team has to start backed up to their on endzone….

RRTDawgs

January 2nd, 2011
10:45 pm

Hey dawgster i know your angry i am to but we have give this recruiting class a chance LeMay will get a chance to start the way Murray played there will some changes for sure keep your head up its a new year some good news today the Falcons win South East Division GO FALCONS .

bigtime

January 2nd, 2011
10:49 pm

dawgster…hang in there man,UGA will have a great recruiting class (minus Dickson and Mitchell). Some of these players that UGA will sign will be program changers. That is if Coach Richt can somehow find his way back to being a good coach. On the upside if these players on the fence choose UGA it has to be because they WANT to become DAWGS and restore UGA to a proud program. I’ve been there , I feel your pain. Remember Mike Shula ? ROLL TIDE

naganole

January 2nd, 2011
10:56 pm

Well, hello everybody…

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
10:58 pm

bigtime.. roll tide bro! Dee Hart claims to have put on 20 pounds and that’s why Bama started recruiting him as a RB. I think he will be hell returning kicks but he needs to be in the 220lbs range to carry the ball effectively. The 2012 class is already looking like a monster. Bama is already locking down the top instate kids and has hit up Georgia and Florida early. With the Auburn money men going underground I don’t look for them to land anyone who’s not a legacy.

RRTDawgs

January 2nd, 2011
10:59 pm

naganole whats the latest on Ray Drew will he still be a dawg or are we loosing ground .

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
11:02 pm

thanks bigtime and RRTDawgs…i’m just very unsure of this recruiting class and don’t like some of the things i have heard…This may turn out to be a disaster these next few weeks…There is a lot of support out there for dismissing Coach Richt now and take our lumps..I have not been one of those but what i saw in the Liberty Bowl was something i never expected…Also, don’t think Lemay will take Murray’s place, and i don’t think he should, Murray turned out to be very good and should get better…If the dawgs don’t take advantage of the Marshall kid’s talents on offense, then, well i wont say, but they better not waste him as they have with Brandon Smith….And just for additional negative info, has anyone seem the dawgs execute a screen pass that actually gained some yards…I’m sure there has been one or two, but my gosh how many times does it get blown up…

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
11:03 pm

Georgia fans… have you looked at your 2011 sched? SC, Miss St. and Camless Auburn at home… and a Florida team trying to transition from the spread to a pro-syle offense. I’d like to see Georgia get things back on track. Kirby Smart is telling UF no thanks with his eye on UGA job.

naganole

January 2nd, 2011
11:04 pm

@Ryan Yeah, no one is getting Drew. It’s Lemay and him who are keeping that class together. Drew is the last recruit you have to worry about.

naganole

January 2nd, 2011
11:06 pm

@Blackoutanyone? Kirby going to have the pick of jobs soon. Mack Brown has one season to fix Texas or he is gone. Same with Richt. Saban wont hang around Ttown forever. He’s going to get a shot at an elite tier school very soon…

3 Ways to Fix the Football Program Immediately

January 2nd, 2011
11:08 pm

(1) Convince former Dawg quarterback Buck Belue to become the new recruiting coordinator – (he has the connections, loyalty, and enthusiasm – the borders of this state have become more porous than Arizona to Mexico). – and then offer Ralph Friedgen the job of Assisstant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator.

(2) Sign DT John Jenkins and RB Isaiah Crowell – these are the two most important recruits of the Mark Richt era. And then copy all the top SEC teams and work the Junior College ranks for top linemen who can actually play immediately!
.
(3) Keep Bruce Figgins at fullback ( he mowed down defenders in the bowl game for the ONE series he got to play), move Zander Ogletree to defense where he can use his natural ball-hawking abilities, and put Branden Smith on offense to replace the departing A.J. Green.

Oh yeah – never again run the pint-sized Carlton Thomas into the middle of the line and also play true freshman QB Christian LeMay early and often. This simple three-point formula is guaranteed to shoot UGA to 10 wins for the 2011 season. Anything less will be a disaster!

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
11:08 pm

naganole… “He’s going to get a shot at an elite tier school very soon…” Who are you refering to?

RRTDawgs

January 2nd, 2011
11:09 pm

Thanks Blackoutanyone for that inside info hopefully McGarity will repair the bridge for Smart that Evans trashed and Gary Patterson of TCU should on the top list .

naganole

January 2nd, 2011
11:10 pm

@Blackoutanyone? Smart… as a HC.

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
11:15 pm

Saban has 6 or 7 more years left and unfortunatley I don’t see Kirby hanging around that long. UGA will need to make a move soon if they wish to retain him. Very nervous about Muschamp at UF and their switch to a pro-style offense. That will hamper Saban’s and Fisher’s recruiting efforts of top notch RB’s from Florida and Georgia.

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
11:18 pm

Have to agree with the above post about C. Thomas..in our offense he is not going to be productive running between the tackles…he would do fine in a spread type offense in my opinion…as far as Braden Smith..get him some additional touches on offense…dont’ think you can use him all the time, due to injuries, but we should have been able to run some plays with him when he was healthy….

bigtime

January 2nd, 2011
11:19 pm

Blackoutanyone?….. The 2012 class is already stock-piling some serious talent. R. Ragland committing was a great addition especially since he, Kwon Alexander, and Jameis Winston have all stated that they want to play together. With Justin Thomas and Caleb Gulledge already committed from Prattville that certainly helps with J Shanks. We are going to clean up in-state next year. Add Dakota Ball from Georgia and Eddie Williams from Florida and we are off to an awesome class in 2012. Look for another addition soon with C. Casher picking Bama over Florida State……ROLL TIDE

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
11:21 pm

RRTDawg… I don’t think UGA has any bridges to repair with Kirby. He looked at the situation at UGA and decided he didn’t want to leave kids he had recruited to Bama for a lateral move. UGA fans were upset but make no mistake… Kirby would jump all over the HC job at UGA.

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
11:24 pm

Just based on some things i have heard, not so sure that Smart will be considered due some things that took place last year, but hey water over the damn…But if something does happen, not sure it would be Smart anyway….I think this would be one heck of a decision, but i’m afraid that unless a miracle happens next season, we are looking at a change…I hope i am so wrong on this, but right now just don’t have any confidence with this staff….Its going to take someone that will come in here and gain the respect and yes a little fear of the coaches…..

naganole

January 2nd, 2011
11:25 pm

@Blackoutanyone? Not for this cycle or the next one. Muschamp has never recruited the state of FL at any of his previous stops. Feel free to fact check it. Charlie Weis is a great OC, but not a great recruiter. UF hired Hill from UM as WR coach. What a joke. Even if they do decided to work their tales off, they aren’t landing any new blue chip recruits in ‘11 and are way behind in building the relationships needed to get a commitment from any of the ‘12 kids. UF is going to be UF, but they are climbing a mountain right now. Saban still hasthe state of AL locked down. (Congrats by the way, it looked like we were going to take Casher out of Mobile, but not anymore). FSU is taking 8 of the top 10 players of of the state of FL in the ‘11 class (only exceptions are Driskel and Watkins) Think about that. 8 of the top 10 players in the most talent rich state in the country. Both of our schools already have elite guys committed for ‘12 to build upon. Thank you Urban Meyer for deciding that grabbing a California 5* like Easley was more important than owning your own state. FSU, Bama, and UGA thank you. Enjoy retirement…

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
11:28 pm

bigtime… I hope your right on Casher. Depending on what happens with Crowell, I’d expect a national top 5 RB in the 2012 class. Barry Sanders Jr. has Bama and FSU on top. Stockpiling talent. The real recruiting will be within our junior class. Hightower, Upshaw, Barron, Maze, Julio, Ingram and Darious. Interesting to see how the numbers work out if some of these guys come back.

bigtime

January 2nd, 2011
11:30 pm

Blackoutanyone? ….. You know Saban has a plan for everything in “The Process”
ROLL TIDE

naganole

January 2nd, 2011
11:33 pm

Bama can have Barry Sanders Jr all day long as long as you back off TJ Yeldon…

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
11:37 pm

naganole… the gainsville sun seems to think ole Charlie Weis can recruit. He did pull in some big time recruits at the Dame but we know how that turned out. I just never understood why a program like UF would run with a gimmicky offense like the spread. The run version of the spread at that. Minus a player with the skill set of a Tebow or Newton$$ it just doesn’t work in the SEC. FSU appears to be building a monster but like you said UF is UF and they’ll get their share.

naganole

January 2nd, 2011
11:43 pm

Spread worked better before you had multiple SEC and top tier division 1 teams running it. It needs specific types of recruits(re:QBs like Tebow or Cam), and those guys don’t grow on trees. Kinda like the NT in Saban’s type of 3-4. Only so many T Codys out there in the world. The more unique the scheme, the easier it is to find those special kids that make it click…

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
11:49 pm

naganole… lol have you seen Barry Sanders Jr. film? I will take your last statement as testiment that you have not. He is a gamechanger… think Reggie Bush (hopefully minus the bagage).

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
11:52 pm

Well is see that another top notch RB in M. Caffey has left the state of georgia with not so much as an offer…can’t understand that, seen him play several times and he is very good, don’t know what the dawgs were thinking with him as we need to sign at least two, Crowell i understand is priority, but Caffey would have been good, but he is taking his talents to Purdue…maybe Bray will come to the dawgs, though i think he may be an Au lean…Boy if we don’t get Crowell, what a sad situation we will have…Hoping the dawgs know something that we don’t but i’m beginning to wonder….

Blackoutanyone?

January 2nd, 2011
11:55 pm

naganole.. look out for a freak NT named Jesse Williams. #1 juco prospect. Kid bench presses 550 and has a 4.9 40. Supposed to be a stronger more athletic version of Cody. His only draw back is his lack of time on the football field. Has played football for only 2 or 3 years so we’ll see how he developes.

dawgster

January 3rd, 2011
12:02 am

Well another great coaching move on the dawgs part.Nick Williams ant 6-2 and 220 pounds Safety/Lb has been given his release..the coaches can’t seem to find the right spot for him..You would think a guy with those kind of physical attributes could find a place, but our defense is so strong they couldn’t find a place for him…I don’t know about his heart or desire in playing but it would seem like another waste of talent that has been the custom or our staff the last few seasons…Sorry to be so negative, but we act like we can’t coach at times…i understand he was having some problems with the 3-4, but is that all there is to it, or did he just not want to play where the coaches saw him best…Maybe he could have played TE as would have been the case with Cam Newton, although he never was coming to the dawgs anyway, just though i would throw that in…i guess the guys that are on here alot can tell by my comments that i am disgusted with this coaching staff among other things at this moment…In a few days i’ll probably feel better…go dawgs

Blackoutanyone?

January 3rd, 2011
12:11 am

dawgster… I can remember when Rich Rod went into a meeting with his players in WV to let them know he had turned down Alabama. I thought it couldn’t get any worse. While that probably wont make you feel any better… the 2011 UGA schedule should. Richt needs to man up. Remember the stress free no two a days fall camp? I think he’ll coach like his job is on the line.