St. Petersburg, Fla. – Georgia’s attempts at building a Dream Team recruiting class for 2011 got off to a bad start here at the Under Armour All-America Game Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
Xzavier Dickson, one of the Bulldogs’ main targets in achieving that stated goal, decided to go in another direction. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end from Griffin chose Alabama over Georgia. The AJC Super 11 made the announcement during the first quarter of this national-televised high school all-star game.
Troup running back Quan Bray, another member of the projected “Dream Team,” chose Auburn over Georgia, Alabama, Florida and LSU.
“I just felt like it was the best fit for me,” Bray told me. “I was comfortable there and I have a real good relationship with all the coaches.”
Dickson and Bray were two of the 10 players from Georgia chosen to play in the Under Armour Game but the only ones from the Peach State to agree to make their college decisions public during the telecast.
Six other Under Armour All-Americans are announcing their choices during the game. The others were wide receiver Devon Blackmon of Fontana, Calif.; WR Jabari Gorman of Mirimar, Fla. (Florida); CB Doran Grant of Akron, Ohio; defensive end Greg Townsend of Los Angeles; and Robenson Therezie of Miami.
And this from Mike Ditka:
NFL legend Mike Ditka, who is serving as head coach of the White Team here at the Under Armour All-America Game, insists he was leaving the coaching to “the real coaches” Wednesday night. But he certainly wasn’t acting like it before the game.
Ditka gave a rousing pregame speech to his 45-player squad of national high school all-stars in the pregame locker room here at Tropicana Field. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was granted access into the locker room to witness the moment.
Ditka kept it mostly serious and inspirational as he spoke to the group for more than five minutes. Here’s some of what he said:
“You guys are 17- and 18-years-old and you’re playing in front of a national TV audience. Do you understand that? Do you realize how many kids play high school football in America? And you have 45 guys here in this room that are going to play on national TV on ESPN. Only in America. That’s unbelievable. When I was coming up years ago, bnobody would have believed that. So you have a unique opportunity here. Make the best of it.”
He wrapped up by telling them, “I don’t know that much about football but I know this: If you whip your man most of the time you’ll win the battle, and if you win the battle you’ll eventually win the war. So go out there, have fun and win.”