The DMV was represented very well at the Under Armour All-American High School Football Game on Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla. A total of 11 players hailed from the area – three from Baltimore, four from Washington, D.C, and four from Prince George’s County, Md.
It wasn’t much of a surprise to see so many players from the local region, with Under Armour global headquarters stationed in Baltimore. Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of the 20-year-old sports apparel company, is from D.C. and attended St. Johns College High School, which had two players, Aaron Hansford and Terrell Hall, selected for the game.
In its ninth season, the Under Armour All-American Game showcases the top 100 high school football players from all over the country. Former NFL players and coaches also participate in the event. This year’s game included former coaches Herm Edwards and Steve Mariucci, along with NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. They both served as coaches.
In the inaugural game, current Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones was named MVP; he eventually went on to become the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Since 2008, the UA All-American game has produced 94 NFL draft picks, 23 first-rounders, and a Heisman Trophy winner.
DeMatha High School defensive end Shane Simmons is currently ranked the No. 1 player in the state of Maryland and third best player at his position in the country, according to ESPN. Simmons is 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 227 pounds. He’s already committed to Penn State University. He has a great combination of speed and power to rush the passer, but his long arms are probably his best attribute. For Simmons, playing in the All-American game is all about competing with other top athletes in the country.
“It’s been fun being out here with that are also highly ranked and competing like me,” Simmons said. “We all have the same goal and it’s just fun going through this experience.”
At DeMatha, Simmons learned how to be a student-athlete, balancing school and sports.
“Only certain people can make it there; we’re built differently,” he said.
The same could be said about the other 10 area players that were selected to the UA game, all of whom are students at private institutions.
Shane’s future teammate at Penn State, Ellison Jordan, hails from one of the top institutions in the country, Gilman School in Baltimore. Jordan and Simmons have known each other since their days in grassroots football and now have the potential to become one of the top pass rushing duos in college football by the time they reach their junior year.
Unlike Simmons, Jordan doesn’t have the prototype size and frame – only standing in at 5-foot–11 – but he has a nonstop motor that can’t be mimicked. Speaking with Jordan off the field, you wouldn’t believe that he is an aggressive beast on the field. In the final game of the season against rival school McDonogh, located in Owings Mills, Md., Jordan helped close out the game while suffering from a sprained MCL, barely able to walk off the field.
Playing the Under Armour game is a “blessing from God,” Jordan said, but it was also gratifying to see the influx of DMV talent playing in the UA game, he added.
“It’s great! DMV is bringing out talent and I don’t think a lot of people notice that,” Jordan said. “You can even count Rashaun Smith, who went to St. Frances and Calvert Hall before playing at IMG Academy (in Florida).”
Smith is the 11th player represented from the DMV area, and third player from the Baltimore area but is listed on the roster as a resident of Florida. The DMV has never been known for producing great football talent – more known to be a hotbed for basketball – but this year’s recruiting class is probably one of the best in a long time.
Good Counsel linebacker Keandre Jones, who will attend the University of Maryland, is another star athlete. He is part of “The Movement” which was started by the in-state commits that will attend College Park next season. Jones describes “The Movement” as just their way of getting guys to stay home. He understands that they will not be “great” in just one season, but he believes they will catch on as time goes by.
Tino Ellis, Dwayne Haskins, and Terrance Davis are also part of “The Movement” – Davis announced his commitment during the live broadcast of the game.
Haskins is the biggest name out of all the players and most appealing. The quarterback out of Bullis School committed to University of Maryland before his senior season, but coaching changes has forced him to keep his recruiting period open. Though he is still verbally committed to Maryland, he will take a couple more recruiting trips before National Signing Day on Feb. 3.