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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
By Allie Davison, Wharton High
With only two Tampa Bay area players making the cut for the 2012 ESPN Under Amour All-America Game, and one of them sidelined by injury, my job as tb-two* football beat writer was not busy in the usual way Thursday night at Tropicana Field. Instead of focusing only on Berkeley Prep’s Nelson Agholor (nagging shoulder problem) and Lakewood’s Dante Fowler Jr., I wanted to soak in the moments likely to make the highlight reel on ESPN’s Top 10 or, if I were picking them, Top 3. (By the way, Team Blur and Coach Herm Edwards topped Team Highlight and Coach Steve Mariucci, 49-16).
1. Don’t tick off your mother on national television: Landon Collins, No. 1 safety in the country according to ESPNU, was one of the few top recruits in the undecided category heading into last night’s game. Many assumed Louisiana State University was his front runner because of his New Orleans roots. However, when an offer arises from Tuscaloosa and coach Nick Saban tells you he wants you to Roll Tide, that offer becomes quite intriguing. Last to make his announcement during the game, Collins and his family sat around ESPN’s Dari Nowkhah while he told the country for the first time where he would be suiting up next season. As he said “Roll Tide Roll,” cameras caught the face of the woman seated next to him turning to disgust. It was his mother. LSU was a better place for her son, she said. Her reaction sparked quite a rile in the press box; we and a gazillion viewers had just witnessed a young man get silently grounded by his mother (or worse) on national television. The family disagreement became an instant Twitter trending topic. If you missed it, don’t worry, this will air on every sports channel for the rest of the weekend.
2. If I was a betting man, my money would be on another SEC team to win the BCS Championship again next year … and the year after ... and the year after: With the 150 ESPN high school recruits making more than 30 verbal commits to Southeastern Conference teams the talent these schools are pulling in is insane, but not shocking. That doesn’t even count half the recruits who are still undecided whose top three schools all have shiny SEC logos next to their names. While few from the Under Armour class of 2012 will make the team as true freshmen, there is no doubt that in two years these athletes will be producing yards and tackles for their teams. Recruiting for most schools is about building a foundation for the years ahead. Alabama’s Saban, along with LSU’s Les Miles, Florida’s Will Muschamps and Auburn’s Gene Chizik, build for future championship rings, and with the talent I saw last night all of those schools will have bids for a title in the upcoming years. No one can pinpoint for sure why the SEC has become a “super conference,” with the winner of this year’s BCS title game bringing the total to six consecutive victories for the conference. Maybe it is the history woven throughout, or maybe it’s the good karma of southern hospitality.
3. “Announced” attendance record for the game: Late in the third it was announced by the Under Armour crew that the official attendance was 24,710, which ranked second all-time. According to HomeTeam writer Matt Baker, only 18 Rays home games drew more than last night’s crowd. Although a lot of the people in the stands were family and friends, and this game is only a once a year thing, that still doesn’t excuse the fact that a professional team can’t rack in nearly 25,000 fans at home more than 18 times. Most likely many of those 18 games were against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, whose fans filled the seats. I don’t know which is crazier, that a HIGH SCHOOL football game brought in that many or that a professional sports team can’t do as well? You tell me.