Berkeley Prep senior Nelson Agholor says he's in no hurry for high school to end.
He seems keenly aware of how soon he will be on his way to college and playing on a much more visible and pressure-filled stage.
So as Agholor took part in this week's activities leading up to tonight's Under Armour All-America High School Football Game in St. Petersburg, the five-star national recruit took time to reflect on his stellar prep career and the people who helped him to such heights.
"It's just a wonderful opportunity and an honor to be named an all-American and a privilege to be a part of something like this,'' said Agholor, who was primarily a running back in high school but is being recruited by college coaches as a wide receiver.
"A lot of great players — some players who put up great numbers throughout their high school careers — didn't get picked for this but I'm proud to be a part of it."
The Under Armour game, scheduled for 7:30 tonight at Tropicana Field, is one of three nationally televised prep all-star games featuring many of the top seniors in the country.
Also on the schedule is Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, where Jefferson defensive end Tyriq McCord and Land O' Lakes tight end Kent Taylor are members of the East squad. Another major high school game, the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, was played Tuesday in Phoenix.
Agholor had 28 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 yards rushing last season, leading his team to the Class 3A state semifinals. After this final game, it will be time for Agholor to turn his attention back to the recruiting process.
Agholor said he still has two official visits to take in January, one to Florida State and the other to the University of Southern California. His three other finalists are Florida, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
Agholor has scholarship offers from nearly every school in the Southeastern Conference, all the big state schools including South Florida, as well as major programs such as Oregon, Texas, Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan and UCLA.
As much as he is looking forward to joining his Berkeley teammates on the basketball court, Agholor said his primary focus now must be on preparing for college. He gave credit to his parents, Felix and Caroline Agholor, and Berkeley coach Dominick Ciao.
"I've got a great support system, they understand what it takes to be a competitor and a good person and they've put me a position to do that,'' Agholor said. "With them, I've been able to learn about one thing and one thing only, and that's succeeding.
"Obviously, as an athlete, coach Ciao has been at the head of everything we do at Berkeley. Our character, our performance, we owe it all to him, especially myself. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor than coach Ciao and he will always be my mentor.''
Ciao has coached many highly recruited players, including former Jesuit and Notre Dame tight end Gary Godsey. Ciao said Agholor has handled the pressure with poise.
"I've always said I've been more impressed with Nelson as a young man than as a football player,'' Ciao said. "I've been impressed with how he's dealt with everything and I've been proud to coach him.''
UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICAN BOWL
WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg
WHEN: 7:30 tonight
LOCAL PLAYERS: Nelson Agholor, WR, Berkeley Prep; Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Lakewood; Brian Poole, CB, Bradenton Southeast.
NEED TO KNOW: Head coaches for the teams are former Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant and former Kansas City and New York Jets coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards along with former San Francisco and Detroit coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. Notables who have played in this game are Bucs defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Landry Jones, of USC and Oklahoma, respectively, and running back and Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson of Alabama. ... As of earlier this week, Florida and Florida State each have six verbal commitments playing in the game, Miami three and South Florida one (tight end Sean Price).