NORCROSS, Ga. -- ESPN 150 running back Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) remembers watching the Under Armour All-America Game in middle school, telling his friends how cool it would be to play in the event.
On Thursday, as the 5-foot-10, 192-pound running back scanned the packed stands at Blue Devil Stadium, he could not believe it actually became a reality. Kamara accepted his jersey for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour.
"It is a blessing," Kamara said. "For me, this all boiled down to working hard and being consistent. It has been really heart-warming to be categorized as one of the best."
When Kamara was in third grade, he met Ryan Jenkins (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter) in P.E. class, and the two became inseparable. Then standing under five feet and around 65 pounds, Kamara was playing left guard, and remembers being a killer blocker at the time. Kamara ended up quitting football until Jenkins' father, Lee, encouraged him to come out and play for the sixth grade youth team he coached. Lee, a former football standout at Tennessee, made a decision that would alter Kamara's future.
"The first day he came out, I made everyone learn the fundamentals of the game – blocking, tackling, running and catching," Jenkins said. "I put the ball in Alvin's hands and within 10 seconds, I knew that I was looking at maybe the next Walter Payton. He has been a running back ever since."
It was a natural transition for Kamara, although he had no idea of his potential as a running back.
"Coach Jenkins saw something in me that I did not see," Kamara said. "He put the ball in my hands and I just started running like crazy."
As a junior, Kamara had 1,300 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Through 10 games as a senior, the No. 37 prospect in the country has 171 carries for 1401 yards 18 touchdowns. He's also become a threat in the passing game, tallying 11 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Jenkins has watched his older son Martin go on to play football at Clemson, and his younger son Ryan follow suit with the Tigers' 2013 incoming class. In seeing Kamara's success, he displayed a similar sense of pride.
"He has really matured as a man, and I am just so proud of him," Jenkins said. "I knew he had the potential to be great, but there are a lot of the people who take that potential all the way to the grave and never realize it. Alvin rose to the challenge."
Ryan was also in attendance to see his close friend honored as an Under Armour All-American.
"It means a lot to see him be named to the Under Armour Game because I know how hard he has worked for it," Jenkins said. "He used to talk to me all the time when we were kids about being an All-American and playing big-time football, so it is good to see him accomplish that."
His accomplishments at Norcross were possible because of Kamara buying into the team philosophy instilled by head coach Keith Maloof.
"From day one he knew what I expected, and that is why we have worked well together," Maloof said. "He plays in one of the toughest regions in the nation every Friday night, and I told him if he can do it at this level he should have no problem at the next level in the SEC or wherever he chooses to play."
While Jenkins and many of Kamara's other friends have made their college decision, the Norcross star remains undecided. After turning 17 over the summer, Kamara thought he might be ready before his senior season but was unable to pull the trigger on a college. Coach Jenkins has helped him narrow his choices down based on people, the football program and academics, with proximity to home also factoring in. While Kamara expects to set up official visits in a few weeks, right now he has his mind on something else.
"I have been trying to stay low-profile when it comes to recruiting so I can try to focus on leading my team to a state championship," Kamara said. "Until I accomplish that goal, my decision will take a back seat."
Schools like UCLA, USC and Oklahoma State are trying to crack Kamara's top group, which includes two SEC programs and a Pac-12 school.
"Alabama and Georgia are up there as the top two, and Oregon is still trying to talk to me," Kamara said. "Oregon is out there, but their fast-paced offense is exactly what I do, so I am pretty interested to see what they have to offer."
There is no timeline for a decision for Kamara, who says he intends to go off his feelings in regard to making a commitment. Oregon has two commitments from ESPN 150 running backs, while Alabama has three. Georgia got its first running back commitment on Tuesday in ESPN 300 prospect A.J. Turman (Orlando, Fla./Boone). As with the other programs, Kamara was unfazed by the possibility of joining a recruiting class with another heralded back.
"Seeing Georgia getting a running back commitment does not affect me at all," Kamara said. "I do not know much about him, but if Georgia offered and he committed, then he must be a high-caliber back. That will not sway my decision at all. If I want to go to Georgia I will go to Georgia."
His best friend said he and Kamara have discussed the possibility of the two seeing each other across the field next fall.
"We talked about how we would be playing each other next year if he goes to Georgia," Jenkins said. "I will have to give him a little beat down when he comes to Death Valley."