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Players talk injuries at Under Armour All-America Game practice

ORLANDO — Jordan Cunningham, a wide receiver from University (Fort Lauderdale), was already playing on a bad right knee when he reinjured it earlier this week at practice in Orlando for the Under Armour All-America Game, to be held Friday at 5 p.m (ET) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

In San Antonio, Notre Dame recruit Torii Hunter Jr. of Prosper, Texas, broke his femur in a practice Tuesday for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

The concern about injuries is rarely far from a football player's consciousness, but most players push those concerns aside for a chance to play in a televised all-star game. The  Under Armour All-America Game airs on ESPN while the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday on NBC.

MORE: Players dish on recruiting, concussions and hairstyles

Cunningham hasn't announced his college choice. He's looking at Vanderbilt, Stanford, Florida State, Notre Dame, Alabama and Oklahoma State. He knew before this week that he would likely have to have surgery on his right medial colleratel ligament, but he hoped he would be healthy enough to be on ESPN on Friday instead of walking around on crutches.

"It's a big game, the best of the best out here, so you want to go ahead and play, but my knee started getting worse," Cunningham said.

Though this is the only postseason All-Star game Crete-Monee (Crete, Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is playing in, he said he would play in more if he could.

"Injuries are in every player's mind and your coaches are the ones that don't want you to play (all-star games), but most players want to play in as many all-star games as you can play in," said Treadwell. "I wouldn't say this is a risk. I'm out here to see where my game is against the best. It's like an early college game. If I didn't go to this game, I would be more nervous about college."

Waianae, Hawaii defensive tackle Kennedy Tulimasealii, who has said he will sign with Hawaii, said there are rare times you can't help but think about injuries.

"Once I'm on the field, the only time it crosses my mind is when I see somebody get hurt and I'm like, 'What  if that happened to me?' " Tulimasealii said. "My coaches just said to go out there and have fun, do what I do but not get hurt."

DeSoto, Texas, running back Dontre Wilson, who has said he will sign with Oregon, said there's a certain cooperation from players in an all-star game.

"You talk to some of the guys, we tell them to not to hit low and take care of us," Wilson said. "As long as the hits are up, it's all good. As long as it's nothing low or dirty, it's fine. It's football, you can't expect guys to be sissies."

Santa Monica, Calif., wide receiver Sebastian LaRue is listed at 5-11 and 185 pounds, but may be a little shorter and lighter than that. As such, he's accustomed to protecting himself on the field.

MORE: LaRue on his love of football

"Whenever you play this game, it's a physical game," LaRue said. "You can't go out there thinking about getting hurt. That's the quickest way to get hurt. There are some unwritten rules (in all-star games). Are you really going to cut block me or are you really going to low blow me on the side or blindside me? But some guys are not going to follow those rules. They're not trying to be selfish, they're just trying to make the play and it happens."

Skills challenge: Linebacker Alex Anzalone of Wyomissing, Pa., who is a Notre Dame recruit, won the American Family Insurance Obstacle Course. Quarterback Zach Greenlee of Lincoln (Stockton, Calif.), who has said he will sign with Fresno State, won the American Family Insurance Pass Attack. Marcus Baugh, a tight end from North (Riverside, Calif.) who is headed to Ohio State, won the American Family Insurance Lineman Strength Challenge and Loranger, La., cornerback Jeryl Brazil, who says he plans to sign with Louisiana State, won the  Under Armour Hands Competition.

Helping out: After practice on Thursday, players were bused to Barnett Park in Orlando, where they put down sod for a recreational football field that is being updated. Though the actual work was mostly ceremonial (small squares were left open for players to put down sod), the event reminded several players of their own humble football beginnings.

"When I was growing up, our field (Arthur Fisher in Dayton) was terrible. It was rocks and dirt, with no lines," said cornerback Cam Burrows of Trotwood Madison (Trotwood, Ohio), who said he will enroll at Ohio State next week.

Another Ohio State recruit, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) defensive tackle Joey Bosa, the son of former Miami Dolphins defensive end John Bosa, said he enjoyed helping out youth football players.

"It definitely makes you feel a lot better about yourself when you help out little kids like this," Bosa said. "I played on a crappy field when I first started out playing football at Cagni Park in North Miami."
 
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @JimHalley.

 

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Players talk injuries at Under Armour All-America Game practice
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