DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) safety Nick Cross received his All-American Bowl jersey Monday morning at his school as part of the All-American Bowl Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance.
“It’s kinda hard to explain [my emotions] — this is a dream come true,” Cross said before a ceremony on the school’s campus. “I’ve always wanted to play in this game, I’ve always watched it every year. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of excitement. I’ve always dreamed of this, it’s just a great feeling right now.”
The 6-foot, 207-pound Cross is the No. 1 overall player in Maryalnd, and fifth-best safety in the country, by 247 Sports’ Composite Rankings. A Florida State commit — and one of 13 recruits carrying either a four-star designation or better in the Seminoles’ top-10 recruiting class for 2019 — he took his official visit to Tallahassee back in June, and doesn’t plan on going anywhere else.
As for the Seminoles team currently on the field, which is woefully underwhelming expectations in their first year under Willie Taggart, Cross said “they’re taking steps in the right direction.”
“The defense has shown flashes of being great at times, I just think it needs to be more consistent,” he said. “I think that they’ve improved from the first game to now. I’m really excited to see whether they can keep at it throughout the season. I know they’re headed into a tough stretch of games right now. But I think they have the talent and they have the work ethic to continue to grow as a team, so I’m excited. I plan on trying to contribute in any way possible when I come down there, just try to be the best player I can be.”
The Stags (7-1), a perennial nationally-ranked program currently teetering outside the USA TODAY Super 25, started off the season with a 38-0 humbling at the hands of No. 10 St. Thomas Aquinas, a loss that Cross says “brought us closer together”. But since then they’ve strung together seven wins in a row, culminating with arguably their best defensive performance of the season last weekend in a 32-2 near-shutout of previously-ranked Good Counsel (Olney, Md.).
And now comes one of the most anticipated games of the year in the vaunted WCAC cauldron — No. 5 St. John’s (Washington, D.C.), Friday night in Landover, Md. The Cadets boast some of the nation’s most talented skill-position players — including five-star junior Rakim Jarrett, who should provide appointment viewing when he matches up with Cross.
What should fans expect out of DeMatha Friday night?
“I’m happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far,” Cross said. “We’re just working hard, getting better every day.”