Ragland to participate in Under Armour gamePublished 1:58pm Monday, January 2, 2012
BY LINDSAY VAUGHT
Reggie Ragland, who wrapped up a stellar football career in November at Bob Jones, has one more football game to play before he moves on to the University of Alabama to continue his playing career.
The top-rated inside linebacker in the nation, Ragland departed for Orlando, Fla. Dec. 31, where he will join 90 of the nations top high school senior football players in the fifth-annual Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
The game will kickoff at 7 p.m. Thursday Jan. 5 and will be televised on ESPN.
The players will practice for three hours once a day starting on Sunday January 1 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. For the game, the players will be divided into the White team (Blur) and Black team (Highlight). Ragland will wear his traditional #19 on the White team.
“I am real excited to get to play against some of these top guys from around the country. I am fixing to see what I’m made of,” Ragland said in between basketball games at the Huntsville Times Classic last week.
Notable teammates will be fellow Alabama commitments Dakota Ball at defensive tackle, Amari Cooper at wide receiver, Eddie Williams at linebacker, Brandon Greene at offensive tackle, and Chris Black at wide receiver. Also on the White team will be Jameis Winston, the top rated quarterback in the state from Hueytown who has committed to Florida State but is still being recruited by Auburn and Alabama.
“Most of the guys I already know from camps and seeing them on visits. The only way to get prepared is to get your mind right for it,” Ragland said.
The coach of the White team will be former NFL coach Steve Mariucci. His staff is composed of some of the top high school coaches from across the country. Coaching linebackers will be Charlie Ragle who coaches at Chaparral High School in Arizona.
The event has quickly become the nation’s premier high school all-star showcase. The game’s roster is selected by the scouts of ESPN’s Scouts Inc., who have decades of college coaching, recruiting and playing experience between them.
For the past seasons, the Under Armour All-American game has featured the nation’s top recruit. In 2011, it featured defensive end Javadeon Clowney, 2010 the nation’s top recruit was Michael Dyer who also played in this game, in 2009 Matt Barkley of the University of Southern California was one of the top performers in the contest and in the game’s first year, Clemson defensive end DaQuan Bowers participated. Other players who have played in the game and have now moved on to the NFL include receivers A.J. Green (Georgia) and Julio Jones (Alabama).
“It’s a big deal for me because I will be playing in a big arena and I am going to try to get used to the depth of the arena,” said Ragland who has been committed to Alabama for over a year now.
Many of the other players in the game are uncommitted and still being evaluated by college coaches.
“I don’t need any more exposure but I do like for these coaches and the people down there to see me play and the fans back here to see me on TV.”
Ragland said he has been lifting weights, running, and working out with his trainer to stay in football shape.
He has also been playing a key role on the basketball team for undefeated Bob Jones. The Patriots will play without Ragland in an area game Jan. 3 against Florence at home and on Friday Jan. 6 at Sparkman.
The Patriots are 2-0 so far this season in games that Ragland has missed. He played in the Alabama-Mississippi High School All-Star game in Montgomery in December.