Some of the best high school football players in the state and a couple of Super Bowl champions showed up Sunday morning at Longhorn Stadium for the Under Armour All-America Camp.
Invite-only players got up bright and early with the event starting at 8 a.m. They went through registration, warm-ups and measurements before running position drills. Former Dallas Cowboys safety and Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who was on two Super Bowl champs, and another former NFL safety, Ryan Clark, a member of the Steelers’ 2008 Super Bowl champions and now an analyst with ESPN, were among a few NFL players coaching the athletes.
“You want your kids to do well,” Cedar Hill coach Carlos Lynn said. “However you can promote them with the opportunities to be in front of some NFL coaches and really perform, and it’s work. They get the opportunity to work on a Sunday, you really don’t get a chance to do that, so it’s pretty good.”
Area players at the camp included Keller Timber Creek junior receiver Erik Ezukanma, who enters the fall as one of the top players in his class.
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Ezukanma, who had 88 catches for 1,494 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, ran through catching drills, worked with quarterbacks and did 1-on-1 competition with cornerbacks.
He also participated in the UA iLLSPEED competition, which is a circuit of about 50 yards that forces runners to change directions, navigate pylons, shuffle through a confined space, and handle a football. The best time received a trip to Baltimore for the finals.
“It’s a humbling experience,” said Ezukanma, who made the Associated Press Class 6A all-state team in December. “You just want to come out and compete, and want to be the best.”
Ezukanma is up to 11 college offers, according to 247Sports, including TCU and Texas A&M. Justin Northwest junior offensive lineman Darrell Simpson holds 22.
Simpson, whom ESPN ranks No. 9 among offensive lineman in the nation, did lineman drills before going 1-on-1 with the defensive line. TCU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Ohio State are among those offering the 6-foot-7 standout.
“Just coming out to the camp and trying to get noticed,” Simpson said. “Just work the hardest, compete with everybody and to make everybody else better.”
The camp also featured juniors Jalen Knox (Mansfield Timberview), Jaylon Robinson (Fort Worth Paschal), Jagger LaRoe (Colleyville Heritage), Byron Hobbs (Fort Worth Eastern Hills), DaShaun White (Richland); sophomores Kameron Brown (Colleyville Heritage), Chance Cover (Nolan Catholic), Titus Swen (Haslet Eaton) and Jalen Catalon (Mansfield Legacy).
“It’s a great experience here,” said Catalon, the AP 2016 5A Defensive Player of the Year. “Especially the way Under Armour takes care of us and to see all the great talent.”
Even a few freshmen were chosen for the camp, including Southlake Carroll defensive back R.J. Mickens and Keller Central wideout D.J. Graham.
“Feels good, blessed to get an invite,” Graham said. “Being one of the younger kids, I had to step it up and be really competitive.”
“I was excited for it,” Mickens added. “It’s good to go up with some of the best people I’ll see in the next couple of years.”
The Under Armour series has been to Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami and Houston. It will travel to Atlanta, Chicago and Cincinnati in April.