For several players, the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game will not just be their last taste of high school football. It will be their last days of high school period.
Such is the case for Lemont (Ill.) offensive tackle Ethan Pocic, who will enroll early at LSU. With freshmen orientation just a few days after the Under Amour Game, Pocic will likely head straight to Baton Rouge from Orlando.
Although the game and his LSU career is still a few months away, Pocic took one step closer Friday when he received his game jersey as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour.
"I'm looking forward to the competition, being down in Florida, meeting up with Logan Tuley-Tillman, who I played on [U-19] Team USA with," Pocic said. "It's just a good experience from what I hear. A lot of cool, free stuff."
Pocic is eager to get back down to Florida. He took a vacation to Orlando a few years ago -- he missed the theme parks, though -- and was there earlier this year visiting Gainesville following his offer from the Gators.
As much as Pocic wants to get down to Florida, he is much more anxious to finally return to LSU. The nation's No. 5 tackle pledged to Les Miles shortly after a visit to Baton Rouge in May. But he has not returned since. The Tigers could sure use him now, as the team has experienced a rash of injuries across the offensive line. While Pocic is chomping at the bit to don his LSU jersey, he remains focused on his final HS season and maintains regular contact with LSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and Miles.
"I want to hang with the coaches, get a better feel for being there," Pocic said about his upcoming official visit, "and hang out with the commits my age."
But the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Pocic is showing this season he would not be too bad of a defensive lineman either. Pocic said he is playing more defense this year than ever before, and his play along the line has helped Lemont to a 6-1 record. In one game, Pocic's fumble recovery set up a Lemont win with just seconds remaining.
"It was sometime late in the game and they were driving in a tied game, I think I was at nose [tackle] and I scooped up a fumble at the 20-yard line," Pocic said. "We just drove down with eight seconds left, kicked the field goal and won."
Lemont will need a dominant Pocic on both sides of the ball to avenge a loss as the No. 1 seed in the 6A playoffs last year. Lemont lost to a No. 5 seed by three in the semifinal game, and that loss has motivated Pocic through the offseason and his senior year.
"We came real close last year," he said, "and I'm trying to do this with my buddies I've been with since I was playing football in the seventh grade."