Daytona Beach Mainland defensive end Leonard Williams is hoping there weren't too many scouts around watching practice on Sunday during Day 1of preparation for the Under Armour All-American Game (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Tropicana Field).
Because of an injury to another player, Williams, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound rush end who creates plenty of havoc with his size/speed combo, saw duties at defensive tackle during practice at ESPN's Wide World of Sports, the Orlando training site for Thursday's game in St. Pete.
“It was all right. I don’t have a problem with playing in there every once in a while, but I mostly want to play end,” Williams said.
Williams said he currently has Auburn and Florida leading the recruiting race, with Florida State also in the picture with just 28 days left before National Singing Day on Feb. 1. Williams said he does not plan to make his announcement until signing day.
He does still have official visits left to Southern Cal on Jan. 21, and then to Miami on Jan. 27.
So what will it take to win over the big fella?
“A good relationship with the coaches and early playing time,” Williams said.
Williams said his first day of practice was just what he needed to get the pre-event jitters out of his system.
“Oh yeah, in the beginning I was kinda nervous. I’m not gonna lie,” he said. “After being out here at practice, it just feels kind of normal.
There were a lot of people looking around for Nelson Agholor at the Under Armour All-American Game’s initial practice session Sunday at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
He was there, but he was on the sidelines, not the usual place to find the player who is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the state in the Sentinel’s Florida Top 100.
Agholor (6-foot-1, 180 pounds), who is still nursing an injury to his right shoulder that he suffered in the state semifinals against Delray Beach American Heritage, said he wasn’t sure if he would play in Thursday night’s game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
In fact, the Tampa Berkeley Prep star seemed a bit baffled with his status, as if his opinion of his injury was a bit different than that of those who will determine his availability for the game.
“Day-to-day, man,” he said, lifting both arms in the air and shrugging his shoulders. “Day-to-day.”
Several Notre Dame journalists still on site after covering the Irish in the Champs Sports Bowl were a bit disappointed they were not able to see the standout, multi-position athlete in action, but he did talk after practice. Notre Dame, Florida State and Florida seem to be his top schools, while there are others still courting him like Oklahoma and Southern Cal.
Agholor, who was recently named the Class 3A Florida Dairy Farmers Player of the Year, has not really given much indication who is leading for his services.
There had been some “experts” who questioned the Florida Gators accepting a commitment from Bradenton Southeast cornerback Brian Poole, but the 5-foot-10, 192-pound prospect wasn’t giving away anything easily on Sunday.
Perhaps he’s one of the smaller players on the roster for the Under Armour All-American Game, but he was tough on the jam, letting receivers know he was going to get in his licks when he could.
He was rarely beat during the first day of practice, but one player did exploit his lack of height on a deep route. Orlando Dr. Phillips product Trey Griffey went toe-to-toe with him and came down with a nice reception in a jump-ball battle. The 6-foot-3 Griffey didn’t give Poole much of a chance in shading him from the ball.
Speaking of Griffey, there were several local products on display for the Under Armour opening day. He joined Edgewater WR Alton ‘Pig’ Howard (Tennessee commit), Boone WR Marvin Bracy (Florida State), West Orange S Lucas Thompson (will announce Thursday night), Mainland’s Williams, Noor Davis (Stanford) of Leesburg and Marcus Maye (Florida) of Melbourne Holy Trinity.
Howard, a late addition to the team, was happy to be there.
"It's a great experience," said Howard, who is just 5-foot-9, 175 pounds. "There are a lot of talented guys out there .. a lot of big guys. You gotta come with your A game, try not to make mistakes and just go all out fromthe first snap of the ball."
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