Steve Mariucci has players pumped

During his 20-plus years in coaching, Steve Mariucci has had the opportunity to coach Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice along with future Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Terrell Owens.

Now that Mariucci will be back on the sidelines coaching at the Under Armour All-America Game (Jan. 5, ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), he better get ready to answer a lot of questions. It's safe to say players know his history.

Oviedo (Fla.) Hagerty's Jeff Driskel, the top-ranked quarterback in the nation, looks forward to the opportunity to work with one of football's most innovative offensive minds.

"It's a great experience to work with Coach Mariucci or Coach [Mike] Ditka [the opposing coach] because they've seen it all and they have so much knowledge to pass on," Driskel said. "Steve Young and Brett Favre are two of the greatest in the game of football and to learn something from one of the guys that coached them is an amazing opportunity."

A former quarterback at Northern Michigan University, the 55-year-old Mariucci accumulated a 75-72 record as an NFL head coach and earned four playoff appearances during his six seasons as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Although Mariucci hasn't coached since he ended three-season stint with the Detroit Lions in 2005, he remains involved in the NFL as a studio analyst for the NFL Network and an on-site analyst for the network's Thursday night coverage.

While Luchar (La.) High School's Jarvis Landry won't be on Mariucci's squad, he still hopes to find some time to spend with the coach to learn some of the things he taught Rice and Owens.

"Anyone who worked with Jerry Rice is someone that can offer a lot to me and players at my level," Landry said. "Because Rice is the greatest wide receiver all time and just knowing that one of the coaches in this event worked with him makes me that much more excited to be there."

Even players on the defensive end are looking forward to the challenge of defending some of the plays that Mariucci once ran at Candlestick Park.

"One of the great things about this game is the opportunity to learn from the best on both sides of the ball," Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft DT Antwaun Woods said. "As a defensive player, I want to go against the best offensive minds and learn how to defend what they put on the field."

As always with the players involved at the Under Armor All-America Game, it's all about learning new things.

"I'm ready to get some pointers and learn new ways to read defenses," Driskel said. "Anything that can make me a better player and a smarter player, I'm ready to know."

Landry agreed with that assessment.

"I think it's great that coaches of this caliber are willing to pass along some knowledge to us," Landry added. "It's very exciting to be part of."

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.