ST. PETERSBURG — Dalvin Cook represented Team Nitro, Travis Rudolph and Kain Daub Team Highlight. But at the conclusion of the Under Armour All-America Game, the three recruits met at center field.
“Here go the start,” Cook told the others.
Thursday at Tropicana Field, Rudolph and Daub were Cook’s opponents. Next fall, they’ll be his teammates at Florida State.
Cook, ranked the second best 2014 running back recruit by 247 Sports, committed to the Seminoles on Dec. 31, flipping on his previous commitment to Florida. Rudolph, a four-star wide receiver from West Palm Beach, entered as the game’s only uncommitted player from the state of Florida, but announced his decision during the first quarter.
Daub, a linebacker from Jacksonville, had two tackles. Both Cook and Rudolph scored a touchdown in the game Highlight won 31-21. Those scores, Cook assures, won’t be their last.
“We fixing to start, and we fixing to go make plays at Florida State,” said a grinning Cook.
Team Highlight went into halftime ahead 10-0 after Sean White, Highlight MVP, connected with Jacory Washington for a 23-yard touchdown pass and Adam Centers kicked a 25-yard field goal.
The fourth quarter saw four touchdown passes from four different quarterbacks, two for each team, including an 18-yard reception from Nitro MVP and Minnesota commit Jeff Jones.
But the third quarter, much to Cook and Rudolph’s delight, was simply a Seminole show.
Just minutes into the second half, Cook — who had four touchdowns in Miami Central’s 52-7 win against Armwood in the 6A state championship on Dec. 14 — got Team Nitro on the board with a 12-yard touchdown run, capped by a celebratory tomahawk chop in the end zone.
“I felt good when I scored,” Cook said. “I just felt like, man, I’m a Seminole now. I can do it.”
Five minutes later, Rudolph received a 10-yard touchdown pass from IMG Academy quarterback Michael O’Connor. He chose to celebrate with some familiar dance steps from a famous former Seminole.
“That little touchdown dance, I always practice that during the regular football season at my school,” Rudolph said, a neon Florida State hat sitting atop his head. “I was like, ‘this is the perfect opportunity to try and do the Deion.’ ”
Rudolph finished the game — which featured seven FSU commits, tied for second most of any school — with 48 yards on four receptions. Cook led all rushers with 78 yards, an Under Armour All-America Game record. He ran for 35 more than the next best rusher, the nation’s No. 1 recruit and LSU commit, Leonard Fournette.
Cook, an early enrollee, said he plans to leave for Tallahassee this weekend, just before the Seminoles play Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. He already has plans to watch it with other brand new Seminoles on campus.
Florida State’s recent success, Rudolph said, had little to do with his decision to go there. He chose the Seminoles because he felt comfortable around the coaches, and, Rudolph added, he looks forward to catching passes from Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
Still, Rudolph knows just where he’ll be on Monday night at 8:30 p.m.
“I’m definitely going to be tuning into that game and rooting for the Seminoles,” he said.
Kelly Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @_kellyparsons.