Under Armour All-America Game Preview

Early January is a time for new beginnings and for five future Texas Longhorns it will also provide a unique opportunity to get a small taste of what college football is all about, as Mark Buchanan, DeSean Hales, Antoine Hicks, Jarvis Humphrey and D.J. Grant will participate in the inaugural Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 5, 2008 at the Disney's Wide World of Sports® Complex.

Unlike many All-Star games, the players will not be assigned to teams based on geographic location. This means that the five Texas commits will not be on the same squad.

Team White will feature offensive tackle Mark Buchanan and wide receivers D.J. Grant and Antoine Hicks.

At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, Buchanan possesses that rare breed of size and athletic ability that college coaches crave. His quickness allows him to pull from his tackle position and set up blocks down field with ease. Buchanan talked about what it meant to be playing along side many of the nation's elite.

"It's pretty exciting. I'm really looking forward to it," Buchanan said. "It's going to be kind of exciting to test myself against some of the higher echelon of high school talent. It's going to be cool to kind of gauge myself and to see where I am physically heading into college in January."

"As a tackle, I think I am pretty unique in the way I play. As far as downfield blocking goes, I feel like I have the speed to keep up with backs downfield. I expect to start for my team and hopefully have a big impact in the game. I want to make my family proud and represent Texas as a school," Buchanan added.

Joining Buchanan as a member of Team White will be wide receiver Antoine Hicks and Texas' newest commit D.J. Grant.

Hicks is a tremendous athlete with the skill set to play multiple positions on the next level. As the signal caller at Mansfield Timberview, Hicks helped lead Wolves into the third round of the 5A state playoffs in 2007. His future position may still be up in the air, but one thing is certain; Hicks is very dangerous with the ball in his hands.

Grant enters the game with plenty to prove. After missing his junior season, he was overlooked by the majority of college football recruiters, but thanks to an outstanding senior campaign the offers came pouring in. Grant appears to have all the skills to be a productive college wide out. The hands, route running ability and explosiveness are all there and he could see some early playing time in Austin.

The members of team White haven't had much of a chance to get to know one another to date, but a week full of practice should provide yet another opportunity for them to get more familiar with each other on and off the football field.

"That's a cool deal," Buchanan said about the opportunity to get to spend a week with several of his future teammates. "It's exciting to get a chance to see some of the people that you are going to be playing with and hopefully see them succeed and do well also. It will also be good to get to know them a little bit. The guys that are going down there with me, I haven't gotten to know as well as some of the other guys. Pretty much the only time I have seen them was on the official visit, but it's going to be fun to play with or against them."

DeSean Hales and Jarvis Humphrey will be suiting up for Team Red. If one word could be used to describe Hales, electrifying seems to fit the bill. He did it all at Klein Oak. He played running back, wide receiver and even returned kicks. From all indications, he should see time at each position this weekend as well. Hales is a threat to score every time he touches the football. He talked about what it meant to be named to the Under Armour game.

"It's a big honor because it is a once in a lifetime deal. Not very many people get the opportunity to play in a game like this. It's just going to be fun to be down there. I'm just going to try to enjoy the experience," Hales said. "I just want to go down there and have fun and see how well I match up with some of the other players from across the country."

One objective that this week is supposed to accomplish is to place the participants in an atmosphere similar to what they will see on the collegiate level. They will go through an entire week of practice leading up to the game and many will also participate in the Burger King All-American Varsity Skills Challenge.

"I think it's going to be a good experience if they are trying to make it feel like a college atmosphere," Hales said. "It gives us the opportunity to go ahead and get a taste of what practice is really going to be like and to see how you match up against other people like you would in college. Everyday is going to be a battle in college, so I guess it's going to be a battle out there too."

Texas has three wide receiver commits playing in the game and Hales talked about what it meant to be able to get to know them a little better.

"Actually I am," Hales said when asked if he was looking forward to spending time with his fellow wide receiver commits. "When we get down there (Austin), that is going to be like your new family and you always want to be able to get along with your teammates. I've already hung out with Antoine and Jarvis, so I just want to develop a bond with D.J. for the future since he is going to be playing receiver for Texas."

Humphrey is a versatile defensive lineman but is most effective lined up at nose tackle. He has good size for a defensive tackle, but also has the explosiveness to get quick penetration and disrupt plays in the backfield. Humphrey talked about what it meant to play in a game like this.

"It's just great that they even considered me let alone invited me to come play," Humphrey said. "I'm really excited to see how it feels to go up against people that just as good as me."

With the five Texas commits being split up between the two teams, Humphrey may get a taste of just how good future teammate Mark Buchanan is on game day.

"We are going to be doing it in practice anyway, so I guess it should be just the same. Football is a contact sport and we both play hard. I know we're not going to take it easy on each other just because we are going to be teammates," said Humphrey.

See the IT Members board for practice updates.

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