ST PETERSBURG, Fla. — Team Highlight cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and Team Nitro linebacker Reuben Foster were named the Most Valuable Players for their respective teams at Friday's Under Armour All-America high school football game, won 13-3 by Team Highlight, but I'm feeling generous, so I'm willing to hand out the modestly named Halley Awards.
Déjà vu, Me Too Award: When former NFL running back Fred Taylor was playing high school football at Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.), there were no major national high school football all-star games. But watching his son Kelvin, a senior running back at Glades Day (Belle Glade) play brought Fred Taylor back.
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"I played in the Florida-Georgia All-Star Game, which is good, but now you've got the shoe companies with huge marketing and the ESPN partnership, this is huge," he said. "I remember meeting some of my future teammates and guys I would play against. Jacquez Green (who, like Taylor, played for Florida) and Hines Ward (who went on to Georgia) were on the Georgia team. I remember not doing a whole lot in the game. I had one decent run, kind of like what Kelvin had, of the same distance, 13 or 14 yards and that's what I remember. I understand why my grandmother wouldn't watch a game in person. It was nerve-wracking."
O No Award: DeSoto, Texas, running back Dontre Wilson may have gotten the most unpleasant surprise when he found out that Chip Kelly, the coach of his chosen school, is on the verge of becoming the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Even if Kelly departs, Wilson says he's still a Duck.
"That doesn't change anything for me," Wilson said. "As long as coach (running backs coach Gary Campbell) stays, I'm still good. Everything is going to stay the same since the offensive coordinator (Mark Helfrich) is going to get the head coaching job."
Don't Rub It Award: Team Nitro safety Priest Willis may not like big names from small schools. The Marcos De Niza (Tempe, Ariz.) player had two of the day's hardest hits, stuffing Team Highlight running back Kelvin Taylor and putting a lick on tight end O.J. Howard of Autauga Academy (Prattville, Ala). Willis also put a big shot on a punt return on LaQuvionte Gonzalez of Cedar Hill, Texas. But the best hit of the day was supplied by Team Highlight outside linebacker Matthew Thomas, who crushed De La Salle (Warren, Mich.) quarterback Shane Morris. Thomas also had a nice interception in the first quarter that set up his team's first touchdown.
"I really thought he would run to the sideline, but he didn't so I ran up and hit him," Thomas said of his hit on Morris. "Defense wins games and defense wins championships and we showed that tonight."
Best Matchup Award: Crete-Monee (Crete, Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and Hargreaves, both First-Team American Family All-USA players, battled each other several times with Hargreaves stopping Treadwell on a possible touchdown and landing a flying tackle to the legs after a short catch by Treadwell. Treadwell did lead all receivers with six catches for 46 yards, but he did most of his damage late in the game against players other than Hargreaves, who also had an interception of Morris. Treadwell hasn't announced his college choice while Hargreaves is headed to Florida.
"The thing about an All-Star game is it keeps you on your toes the whole game," Hargreaves said. On his interception, Hargreaves said his patience paid off.
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"I knew the quarterback well and I know Shane is a gunslinger. I knew if I got someone in front of me, he would try to throw it behind me, so I backed off a bit and he threw it right to me."
Tough Choice Award: Of the five players who announced their college choice at the game Friday, there were no real surprises. The biggest reverse field may have been onetime Southern Cal recruit Max Redfield of Mission Viejo, Calif., who announced he would instead sign with Notre Dame. The other players and their choices: East Feliciana (Jackson, La.) linebacker Kendell Beckwith to Louisiana State; defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko of Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn) to Clemson; and Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) safety Leon McQuay III to Southern California. McQuay's choice may have been the biggest surprise since he kept his choice closest to the vest. He chose the Trojans over Vanderbilt, Michigan, Florida State, Notre Dame and Auburn.
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @JimHalley.