USA TODAY High School’s Sports’ Jim Halley is at practice in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., this week for the Under Armour All-America football game, to be played Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla. Five things he learned at practice Monday:
1. Deion is still a draw
There are plenty of coaches with years of NFL experience at the Under Armour All-American Combine, but when Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders came trotting out in his Prime Prep gear on Monday, he was the one the players noticed. Sanders, who coached in last year’s game as well, was working with the defensive backs Monday. He coached in last year’s game and even gave players a Prime-time primer on how to do his touchdown dance last year.
2. Speedy to the rescue
Several players have stood out in the first two practices, but DeVante “Speedy” Noil leads the list. While he played mostly quarterback this past season for Edna Karr (New Orleans), he’s seen more as a receiver at the next level. Hoover, Ala., cornerback Marlon Humphrey said Noil was a step ahead of the rest of the players. After one touchdown catch Monday, Noil spiked the football over the goal posts. He’s expected to announce his college decision between Texas A&M and LSU at Thursday’s game.
3. Delightful D linemen
Da’Shawn Hand of Woodbridge, Va., and Lorenzo Carter of Norcross, Ga., both of whom were named to the 2013 American Family Insurance ALL-USA team, have played well among the defensive linemen. Hand, who has committed to Alabama, showed his power to win a battle with Paramus (N.J.) Catholic offensive lineman Juwann Bushell-Beatty, one of the more impressive offensive linemen. Carter, who lists Florida, Florida State, LSU and Georgia as his top schools, was quick to get around the end, though he may have difficulty overpowering players to the inside as Bushell-Beatty, who has committed to Michigan, threw him to the ground on one rush.
MORE: Hand picks Alabama
4. One day away for Fournette, sort of
St. Augustine (New Orleans) running back Leonard Fournette, the ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year, said he will announce his college choice during Thursday’s game but will make his choice Tuesday after talking with his parents. His final three schools are LSU, Alabama and Texas.
5. Adams puts his best feet forward
Just getting to Orlando was a struggle for Jamal Adams, a safety from Hebron (Carrollton, Texas). He flew from Dallas on Saturday to Cincinnati, but missed his connection in Cincinnati to Orlando and had to take the next flight, four hours later. Once he landed, he made up for lost time, playing well Sunday and Monday. He said he plans to choose between Florida and LSU at Thursday’s game. He also showed off his dancing moves during the practice.