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December 30, 2013

Team Highlight: Day 2 news and notes

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LAKE BUENA VISTA- The second day of the Under Armour All America Game practices are underway at ESPN's Wide World of Sports.

88 of America's most talented high school seniors are gathered to camp and play. 20% of those players hail from the Sunshine State, those 18 players are showcasing speed, skill, and strength that will be displayed on Saturdays throughout the country for the next four years.

The players are divided into Team Highlight and Team Nitro. Florida studs Kain Daub, Michael O'Connor, Sean White, Travis Rudolph, Nick Linder, Bo Scarbrough, and Jacob Pugh represent Team Highlight.

Team Nitro sports Ermon Lane, J.C. Jackson, Isaiah McKenzie, Dillon Bates, Joseph Yearby, Quincy Wilson, KC McDermott, Trevor Darling, and Chad Thomas from the state of Florida.

Players participate in one-on-one drills, team practices, position groups, and get personalized training from coaches and former stars like Deion Sanders and Chris Weinke.

With so many elite players, it can be difficult to jump out and make a name for yourself, but Cardinal Newman four star wide receiver Travis Rudolph did just that.

After recording three touchdowns in scrimmage yesterday, Rudolph repeated his standout performance with three trips to the endzone today. Rudolph consistently found separation in passing drills, making tough catches in traffic repeatedly. His highlight came on a fly route, though. After a double move off the line, Rudolph burned Texas commit Jermaine Roberts down the left sideline, hauling in a scoring pass from Penn State commit and IMG Academy star Michael O'Connor.

Rudolph is still deciding on his commitment saying, "it's still up in the air, I haven't made my decision yet." He does plan on announcing his collegiate choice after Thursday's game. He did reveal a leader, "Alabama is still the leader." Said Rudolph, citing his relationship with coach Saban, though noting that he spoke to Auburn assistant coach Dameyune Craig most recently.

Other impressive wide receivers from Team Highlight's morning session included Bo Scarbrough, who is committed to Alabama, but is rumored to be interested in visiting Florida and Florida State. Scarborough found room to work on the edge, taking advantage of the fact that his high school quarterback at IMG, Michael O'Connor, was still connecting with him on passes.

O'Connor was in rhythm for the majority of practice, checking down against aggressive DB play, coached by Deion Sanders. O'Connor had a coach of his own giving him advice, O'Connor and Scarbrough's high school coach and fellow FSU legend Chris Weinke was shepherding the Team Highlight quarterbacks.

O'Connor showed both touch and strength on his throws, he will be an asset to Penn State, where he is set to enroll early. O'Connor said after practice that he is firm to Penn State even if coach Bill O'Brien leaves for the NFL, as he is rumored to.

"Penn State is still a great school with a great history. It's a great program." O'Connor said, "Coach O'Brien did a lot to turn them around. If he decides to leave, he still has them pointed in the right direction."

If O'Connor sticks it out with the Nittany Lions, he will already have some wide receivers he has connections with in the impressive Chris Godwin and the still converting from RB De'Andre Thompkins. Both are headed to State College as wide receivers.

The best name of the event, Speedy Noil, lived up to his named billing. The Louisiana based WR burned several talented defensive backs. He will be dangerous in space wherever the uncommitted prospect ends up.

University School (Davie) QB Sean White also impressed, though three inches shorter than O'Connor. The Auburn commit looked to be a good fit for the system he is on his way to, making his best throws on the run.

Team Highlight did not have formal linemen one-on-ones, but Alabama commit Cameron Robinson dominated the trenches. Robinson tips the scales at a behemoth 330 pounds and manhandled whatever defensive linemen was unlucky enough to be matched up against him.

Tuesday's practice begins at 10:00 tomorrow.



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