By: Cam Smith, USA TODAY High School Sports | October 9, 2017
Each stop on the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the Under Armour All-America Game has the opportunity to be epic because of what selection means to the players involved. Still, few could ever compete with the one that took place Monday.
In one stop at Bradenton, Fla., IMG Academy, the Under Armour Game officially added Ayodele Adeoye, Curtis Dunlap Jr., Houston Griffith, Stephon Wynn, Verdis Brown, and Daniel Faalele. All six Ascenders accepted their official Under Armour jerseys in a ceremony at the school.
Of the six players, only Houston Griffith spoke to USA TODAY, but did so on behalf of the group, saying that his experience and that of his teammates was a testament to both their individual talent and IMG’s ability to help them develop into the player they can become.
“(Being an IMG player is) really cool. I’m with a bunch of guys who are going to be able to go play big time Division I football,” Griffith said. “All these guys are like my brothers since I got here, so it means a lot to be able to be recognized alongside them for the Under Armour game.
“It’s kind of hard to adjust (to IMG) right away, but these guys become your brothers and you live and eat with them. Being able to travel all over the country and play the best teams and talk about school and recruiting, that’s really cool being down here at IMG. Having these amazing facilities, too.”
As for the rundown of elite talent headed to the Under Armour All-American Game, the list is awe inspiring: Ayodele Adeoye is a 6-foot-1, 230-pound four-star linebacker who hails from St. Louis and has committed to Texas. Curtis Dunlap Jr. is a four-star offensive lineman committed to play for the Gators. Houston Griffith is a four-star defensive back committed to Florida State.
Stephon Wynn is a four-star defensive end committed to Alabama while Verdis Brown is a 6-foot-4, 232-pound four-star center and a Florida State commit. Daniel Faalele is a huge offensive tackle who stands 6-foot-8, 395 pounds and holds scholarship offers from nearly every college football dynasty in the country.
Both Houston and Brown hail from Chicago, with Houston saying their goal is to inspire fellow Chicago youth to believe they can achieve anything they want in football, not just basketball. Griffith, whose father was Denver Broncos Super Bowl champion Howard Griffith, said that the honor of playing in the Under Armour Game would go a long way toward increasing exposure for the two Chicago teens, ideally putting more attention on their rise up the ranks in the process.
“It’s an honor being able to recognized with some of the guys who have played in the game in the past,” Griffith said. “And being able to be honored with a bunch of my teammates here at IMG Academy. “I just want to compete on a high level (in Orlando). I’m excited to play in front of my friends and family and against guys I’ll be seeing on Saturdays and Sundays in the next few years.”
The Under Armour All America Game is scheduled for Jan. 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. and will be televised live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. EST.
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