Whether he participated in the bowl game or not, donning a jersey that has "U.S. Army All-American" embroidered on it was not something Marquez North takes lightly.
The FOX Sports NEXT four-star voiced those sentiments after his East teammates edged the West 15-8 at the Alamodome on Saturday.
"I just feel real blessed to be here. It's a great experience. It's an opportunity even only if you get to come and watch. So, it's just great to be here, and I'm thankful."
The No. 9 wide receiver in the country admitted the East sideline was great to be a part of when fellow wideout James Quick (Louisville commit) came up with the game-winning touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
"It was real exciting and dramatic," North said. "It was a fourth down, what was it, about 40-something yards out? Against a good defense like the West Coast, you like lose hope in a lot of stuff. But, James made a great play and the quarterback saw it cause I definitely didn't see it. They just capitalized and the East won."
Now that he is back home from the Lone Star State, the Charlotte, N.C., product plans to make progress toward selecting a school from his three finalists.
"My plans are just to go see Clemson, Carolina and Tennessee again," he said. "That's my top three, and I feel real comfortable with those three schools. It's between them."
The trip to Chapel Hill is scheduled for Jan. 18.
"An official visit is for them to show me more in-depth on stuff," North said. "I go up there on unofficials because it's close and local, but I'm just going to try to get more in-depth."
He hopes to visit Clemson before seeing North Carolina again. The Tigers lost pledges from wide receivers Demarcus Robinson (Florida) and Ryan Jenkins (Tennessee) this week, so a pursuit of North may get cranked up a notch.
"Clemson is to do the same thing. I've been there more than Tennessee, but I still need to go to get a better feel for it," he said.
He visited both officially (Oct. 20) and unofficially for games in Knoxville during the fall. This trip is to get better acquainted with the new head coach Butch Jones and new assistant coaches. The one holdover from the Derek Dooley regime is running backs coach Jay Graham, who has been North's lead recruiter for the Volunteers.
"Me and Jay Graham, we're pretty good," North said. "We've got a good relationship, but I don't really talk to any coaches because I don't really answer the phone. I mean we have the best relationship I guess you can have."
At events like the USAAAB, committed players tend to grab the ear of other top targets to steer them toward joining them on the next level. North got his dose from a future Florida Gator.
"My boy Ahmad Fulwood, he's been talking about Florida all the time but I'm not sure though."
Don't expect a decision to go public until National Signing Day on Feb. 6. Whether a ceremony will be broadcasted or not remains to be seen.
"I'm more of a low key guy. Whatever my coach decides to do with it," North said.
A shoulder injury and subsequent surgery forced North to miss the NCHSAA state playoffs at Mallard Creek (N.C.) High School. He was named to the Associated Press all-state team and was offensive player of the year in the I-Meck 4A Conference.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder caught 20 balls for 322 yards and seven touchdowns his senior season. He also ran the football 45 times for 642 yards with 18 TDs.
North explains plans for top three
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