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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — This would have been the week Jordan Sherit tested himself against the 300-pounder headed to Southern California, or the 290-pound tackle from Alabama or even the highly-touted lineman bound for Texas, among many others.
But for a few months now, the Hillsborough High senior defensive end and Florida commitment has replaced the grind of football practice with the drudgery of knee rehabilitation.
So it was again Friday morning, when Sherit attended his first practice of the week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
“I can’t play — it’s not the greatest thing in the world,” Sherit said. “But I’m so privileged to be here.”
One of the nation’s most coveted recruits, Sherit missed much of his senior season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against Jefferson on Oct. 5. He had surgery the next week and is in the midst of a grueling five-day-a-week rehab program.
His invitation to the all-star game came the week of his injury, a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing finish to his high school career.
“I should be cleared to jog in a month,” he said. “It’s been a long process. But coming out here and watching the guys play is a reminder of what I need to do.”
Sherit remains optimistic that he’ll be ready in time to report to Florida in the summer.
“I’m excited to get up there and get started,” he said.
Sherit is the second Hillsborough High player selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, joining Jarred Fayson who played in the game in 2005.
GATOR BAIT: As expected, there were some rough moments for the four Florida recruits in San Antonio following the Gators’ 33-23 defeat to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday.
Jacksonville First Coast linebacker Daniel McMillian said some of his teammates, particularly those headed to other Southeastern schools or rival programs in Florida, have made sure to offer up their opinions of the Gators’ lackluster performance.
“Yeah, they’ve been joking about it,” McMillian said, cracking a smile. “But it’s still a great program.”
“It hasn’t changed anything in my eyes,” Sherit said.
McMillian and Sherit are two of four Gator commitments invited to the game. The others are wide receiver Ahmad Fullwood of Jacksonville Bishop Kenny and defensive back Nick Washington of Jacksonville Trinity Christian.
Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County receiver Demarcus Robinson is thought to be waffling on an earlier commitment to Florida in favor of Clemson.
ON THE RISE: Lakewood junior offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn came to San Antonio eager to face off against some of the nation’s best talent.
Wynn discovered Friday that he’d already been doing that back home.
“I was ready to compete and see what other parts of the nation had to offer me,” Wynn said. “They’re good …but I still feel like Jordan Sherit and some of the other Tampa guys gave me more work.”
The 6-foot-2, 262-pounder held his own — and then some — during the combine, a day-long series of athletic tests and position drills for more than 500 of the nation’s top underclassmen.
Wynn and Bloomingdale defensive lineman Fito Merzier were the only two players from the Tampa Bay area who participated in the event.
Wynn was particularly proud of his performance in the one-on-one competition, where he shifted from his natural tackle position to left guard for the first time in his career.
“The coach said I did pretty good,” he said. “So I’m pretty confident about where I stack up right now.”
Wynn, who is already being recruited hard by Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Indiana, said he also learned that he has lots of room for improvement with his technique.
He will leave for Florida today eager to make a return trip to San Antonio, next time as part of the All-American team.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “I would love to come back.”
Joel Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @jdhometeam.