Worlds collide in Miami on Saturday
It might be the NFL Pro Bowl weekend, but before the professionals take the field Sunday, 90 of the best high school-aged players in the world will take the field in Miami on Saturday in the USA versus the World game to be televised on the NFL Network.
Jacob Ruby is a 6-foot-8, 285-pound offensive lineman who began playing football in Canada.
"I played one year [in a minor Canadian league], but I really started getting into it in high school. We played with 12 people, but we played a lot of American rules," Ruby said. "All the rules were the same except we played with 12 people and the motion toward the line."
Ruby transferred to Fork Union Military Academy (Fork Union, Va.) to help increase his college exposure and is now committed to Connecticut.
Bjorn Werner is from Germany and started playing football at 12 years old in a flag football league. He did not start playing tackle football until he was 14.
The 6-foot-4, 258-pound defensive lineman transferred to Salisbury School (Salisbury, Conn.) to help reach his dream of playing major college football and eventually moves on to the NFL.
"I was happy for the opportunity and I wanted to check it out," Werner said of his choice to move to the United States. "I really wanted to be successful."
But for all the accolades and offers, the World still feels it has to prove that football is played well outside of the United States.
"My goal is to prove that not only the Americans can play this game," Werner said. "My point is to show that outside of the USA there is a lot of potential to play at the highest level."
"The U.S. has always been known as a football powerhouse, but it's something on everybody's mind that we're going to show that other countries do have good athletes and we can play with the best of anybody," Ruby added.
The players arrived in Miami on Monday, but the teams have not had much interaction due to amount of team obligations. However, that has not stopped the American players from checking out their competition.
"There are some big linemen, especially those Samoans," said defensive back Titus Till of Henry Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.). "They walk around in tank tops, they got these swoll tattoos. I'm glad I don't have to come in contact with some of them. Some of their skill position players look like they could be all right."
But even with some talented players on the World Team, many would expect the U.S. to come away with a victory. An idea shared by its players.
"Our main goal Saturday is to whoop up on this World team because you can't come into our country and play our sport and beat us in it," Till added. "That's not going to happen."
The USA versus The World game will be televised on the NFL Network beginning at noon Saturday, Jan. 30.
Mike Loveday is the Contact Sports Editor for ESPN RISE and can be reached via e-mail at Michael.Loveday@espn.com.
ESPN TOP HEADLINES
- Kobe to sit out again vs. Bulls, cites 'old age'
- Westbrook lifts Durant-less OKC past Spurs
- LeBron gets standing ovation in Miami return
- Wall, Wizards race past struggling Knicks