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Reggie Ragland bounces back

Bob Jones High School coach Kevin Rose knows that playing in the Under Armour All-America Game is unique. Not everyone gets that opportunity. That's why he is elated his star player, linebacker Reggie Ragland, will get that chance. On Friday, American Family Insurance presents the Under Armour All-America Game selection tour made its stop at Bob Jones HS to present Ragland with his game jersey.

"I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Rose said. "This is my 19th year coaching, and I have never had one. It's an honor, and I am so happy for Reggie and our program. It means a lot."

Ragland understands what's in front of him, with the chance to play in this game. And it didn't come easy for the Alabama commit.

"I know a lot of hard work went into this," Ragland said. "For me, it means a lot because I know what it took to get here. I always wanted something like this. I am really excited about it."

Ragland is a unique talent. There are not many linebackers, at least at the high school level, who are already 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. He's the No. 2-ranked inside linebacker in the country and a member of the ESPNU 150. As a sophomore, he sustained a pretty severe ankle injury, and it somewhat slowed him down as a junior but not this season.

"Reggie came in, in a lot better shape," Rose said. "I think last season he had a little too much weight. He hurt his ankle and got a little bigger and never lost [the weight] after the injury. Right now Reggie's in great physical condition.

"He can really run and is extremely explosive. He also has super ball skills for a big kid and an NFL body right now."

That suits Alabama coach Nick Saban very well. Ragland committed to the Crimson Tide at the end of the last calendar year, and he looks like a perfect fit for the Alabama defense.

"I think I have the size to play in that defense," Ragland said. "I can play in the middle or the outside. They hope I can be the next Courtney Upshaw there. That's the plan. But I know I have the versatility to play either position at Alabama."

Ragland can't wait to show what he can do, especially in front of the passionate Crimson Tide fans.

"There's so much that I love about Alabama," he said. "The coaches are terrific, and so are the players. I felt comfortable there. Their defense is always tremendous. And I love the fans. They are terrific and have a passion for the Crimson Tide. I can't wait to get there."

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.