Where Will Bass Play?

That's the million dollar question in two areas. Which school will <b>Antonio Bass</b> decide to attend, and at which position. GoBlueWolverine visited Jackson, Mich. High School Monday afternoon to chat with Bass about this and watch as he and his Viking teammates prepared for their season opener Friday against Ypsilanti. <br><br> Photos included.

Rolling west along Michigan Ave. the city limit sign of Jackson, Mich. proudly reminds visitors that this is the "Birthplace of the Republican Party." Jackson is also the home of one of the top high school football prospects in the country, Antonio Bass. Though the city signs have yet to reflect the residence of one of its shining stars, he is certainly a 'known quantity'. Of course he is also a kid in high school, trying to live as normal a life as one can with the flood of reporters who want to know the answer to the basic question of recruiting, where will he go to school after Jackson? "Michigan is the leader," he said, as he has all along. "I just want to take some trips and what else is out there. I'm going to visit Virginia Tech over the Labor Day weekend, my coach just set that up a couple days ago. I'll probably visit Syracuse too, I wanted to go there over the summer but couldn't afford the trip."

Bass does have connections to New York State. He was born in New York and has family there. "I moved here to Jackson when I was seven," he said. "I have a lot of relatives there on my mom's side. I like the coaches there too, it's not all about my family. The coaches are really friendly and I like talking to them on the phone." Bass said his mother and father live in Jackson and he lives with his mother. Where would they like to see their son play? "My mom is the one who wants me to go wherever I want," he said. "My dad would rather I go to Michigan."

So what is the connection to Virginia Tech? "Michael Vick is my boy," he said. "My favorite pro team is the (Atlanta) Falcons." One bit of proof as to who his hero is can be seen on Bass' jersey. He wears No. 7, the same number worn by Vick, who quarterback's the Falcons. The recent suspension of current Hokies quarterback Marcus Vick, Michael's brother, has caused Bass to take a closer look at VAT as well. "Yeah, it's made a little bit of difference," he said. "But I've always liked Virginia Tech." He has no other official visits set up at this time, but would like to get things over with. "I'm getting tired of all the attention," he said. "I was hoping to make my decision before the season so I could just concentrate on the season, but we start Friday and I need to check out some places before I decide, so now it will most likely be sometime in the middle of the season."

"I like Notre Dame too," he said. "That was probably the best visit of the summer, they really impressed me so they're in it too." Bass said his final visit will most likely be to Florida.

Bass is being recruited by most schools as an athlete and it is known he wants to have a shot at quarterback wherever he goes. "I like being recruited as an athlete because it gives me choices," he said. "I play quarterback and free-safety now and if it turns out that I don't make it at quarterback in college then I have the skills to play wide receiver or somewhere else. I like having those options."

Sports have always been a part of the young man's life. "I've been playing football since I was a little kid," he said. "I started flag in 3rd grade. After that in 4th and 5th grade I played tackle and have played through Jr. high and into high school. I've always been a quarterback and I've always had good speed. When I was a little kid I played everything, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, whatever. But I know my future is in football. I took last year off from basketball to concentrate on my football playing but this year I'm going to play everything, football, basketball, and baseball." Bass plays small forward for the Viking hoops team and center field on the baseball diamond.

The 6 foot 2, 195-pound athlete with 4.38 speed in the 40 says the combination of sports strengthens his skills in a number of areas that can be transferred onto the football field. "Football made me stronger, basketball gave me agility which helps, especially when going along the sidelines. Soccer gave me speed, baseball helped me with my eyes, to be able to see things happen faster," he said. "My favorite is football. There is such an adrenaline rush when I'm out on the field, when I have the ball. I like being in control of things and the action." This upcoming season will be his second as a starter. He is three-year varsity player but played back-up his sophomore season.

In all the recruiting hubbub regarding 40 times, top fives, grade-point averages, and bathroom breaks it is easy to forget that these players are kids enjoying high school and being, well, kids. It should come as no surprise to anyone that even though Bass is in the spotlight, he still likes to do things that kids do. "I like to chill with my boys, you know, and do the kind of activities that we do," he said. "I like to play video games and watch T.V. and just hang out. I play X-Box, right now Michigan is my team."

Bass says he wants to major in business but isn't quite sure what he wants to do after his sports career is over. It is a career he obviously hopes doesn't stop at the college level. "I want to major in business," he said. "Math and science are my favorite subjects in school so I think I can do well in business. What I want to do after the pros is up in the air, I guess I have to get there first."

GBW also had a chance to chat with Jackson Head Coach Jack Fairly, entering his 20th year on the Viking staff and second as head coach. With such a tenure at Jackson he has seen some talented players come through the program, but one stands out. "Antonio is probably the most talented player we've had while I've been here," Fairly said. "It seems to me he wants to get his decision over with but wants to see some places so he has all the information he needs to make that decision, it's starting to be an overwhelming process for him, especially this time of year. He is a great kid and has a lot of things going on. He has a job to go along with school and football, plus all the phone calls and people wanting to interview him, plus he and his mom just moved into a new house today so there is a lot going on. My feeling is the sooner he can get to places the sooner he can get the information he needs and decide. I'd like to see him playing 30 minutes away." Bass is not going through this alone though. He has the guidance of his family plus his coach, and a minister. Lastly, Jackson Athletic Director and former Michigan star Russel Davis have been helping the star along the way. "Mr. Davis isn't giving him undue pressure to go to Michigan, but U of M still leads, it's hard to beat what they have to offer, but one of those other places may catch his eye," Fairly said. "We all just want what is best for Antonio and help him understand what his opportunities are."

Coach Fairly expanded on his description of Bass. "I'd say electrifying is a word I would use to describe Antonio," he said. "When he gets the ball you're not usually going to get him down with the first hit, especially if he's past the line. He can make the first two or three guys miss and he is very explosive. There are kids that can run as fast but don't have the moves he has for someone his size. I think in the right situation he can play quarterback once he works with a top college quarterbacks coach. But being the athlete he is he has a choice. Say if there are four guys ahead of him at quarterback and there is a wide receiver spot open he can move over to that position."

After talking with Bass and Coach Fairly it was time for practice. One of Antonio's biggest fans was in attendence for the days activities. Nine year old Amani, Antonio's little brother, sat along the sidelines as big brother went through drills. Antonio said earlier that Amani is also a football player and may just follow in bro's footsteps.


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