Commentary

Players roundtable: All-Americans sound off

Originally Published: January 3, 2008
By Christopher Lawlor | ESPN.com

Tyler LoveGary Bogdon for ESPN.comTyler Love took time off from practice to speak about hot button issues facing today's high school prospects.
ORLANDO -- Eighty of the nation's top high school football players are here this week to participate in the inaugural Under Armour High School Football All-America Game at Disney's World of Sports Complex on Saturday (ABC, 2 p.m. ET). The game caps their high school careers, 67 of whom are in the ESPN 150 player rankings.

The players took time to opine on certain hot button issues concerning football.

Participants
• Quarterback Mike Glennon, Westfield (Chantilly, Va.). • Lineman Tyler Love, Mountain Brook (Ala.). • Safety Will Hill, St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) • Quarterback E.J. Manuel, Bayside (Virginia Beach, Va.)

What will you miss the most about high school?

Will Hill: "Mostly my teammates; who knows when we'll see each other again."

E.J. Manuel: "Friday night lights because it's a special time. The whole town shows up because it's genuine. My favorite time was Saturday morning reading the paper and seeing what they say about you. High school football is still raw."

Mike Glennon: "All the kids I grew up with -- players, students and band members. Fridays were special, we'd go to Brendan McDonald's house and his mom would cook for us and we'd play video games before heading over to the stadium at 5 p.m."

Tyler Love: "Mainly my teammates. We played together for various years and have developed a close bond over a course of time."

What can be done to make football a safer game?

Manuel: "Improve the equipment. The advances in the protective gear seems to have grown each year."

Hill: "Players have to stop going for the kill shot. Instead of going for the man, go for the interception. This will cut down on injuries."

Glennon: "Teach better discipline; it leads to a cleaner game."

Love: "Eliminate the cut blocking. No way should there be blocking below the knees. That's a good way to end a career. I've seen it happen too many times especially to linemen."

What do you think of the current BCS system? Would you prefer a playoff?

Glennon: "I want to see a playoff system. Play the best against the best to find who really is No. 1. I think the playoffs would generate more money and create an atmosphere like March Madness."

[+] EnlargeWill Hill
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comWill Hill is Florida's top-rated 2008 commit.
Hill: "I want to see a playoff system. Let's get a true No. 1."

Love: "No way. The bowl system is fine. I grew up a fan of the Southeastern Conference and traditionally watch the Sugar Bowl."

Manuel: "I like the bowl system. It's considered a reward at the end of a season. Even if you go 7-4 (record), you get another chance to play. The only way you could play for the BSC championship is to go undefeated."

What is the most annoying part of the recruiting process?

Love: "Probably the constant nagging by fans and people all asking me where I'm going to school. Additionally, text messaging was a bad thing; thank goodness it has stopped. I awoke to too many texts and had too many before going to bed. Besides my text charges were high."

Manuel: No doubt, text messaging. At first, it was cool. I was getting them from all the big coaches but when they started coming in at 2 a.m. from the West Coast, I'd had enough. Thank goodness my cell phone had an unlimited text messaging plan.

Hill: "Getting calls at 4:30 a.m.; that's just nuts. I was glad they (the NCAA) stopped text messaging."

Glennon: "Saying no to a college coach who you've built a relationship with."

Which game is better, college or the NFL? Why?

Love: "I grew up with the college game but any football game is good."

[+] EnlargeEJ Manuel
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comE.J. Manuel is the top-rated quarterback in the Class of 2008.
Manuel: "I'm headed to college in the fall and I find myself watching the games more closely. I'm watching the players today I'll play against next year."

Hill: "I'd say the NFL; after all it's my ultimate goal to play in the league. Right now my goal is college but to play in the NFL would complete everything; it would sum things up."

Glennon: "College by far. There's no greater feeling than running out of the tunnel and onto the field. The fans are cheering and the music is loud. I can't wait."

Are high school players ready for the NFL?

Chorus (laughing): No way.

Manuel: "High school players' minds and bodies aren't ready. It's like a boy playing in a grown man's world."

Love: "Not a chance. That's like an elementary recreation player jumping to the high school level. Players aren't ready; they need at least three years of college. The pro game is full of players with speed, strength and great technique."

Hill: "No, because there's so much more to learn about the game. College helps you to get ready for the NFL but there's a player somewhere who's ready, though."

Glennon: "No. It's hard enough to play in college as a true freshman. Mentally and physically it's too demanding."

What do you think of the New England Patriots' perfect regular season? And will they win the Super Bowl?

Love: "It's really unbelievable. The Miami Dolphins (in 1972) went the whole season without a loss and won the Super Bowl. That's what is left for the Patriots. If they lose in the first round (of the playoffs), it's not the same. When they do win it's because of leadership and they play as a team."

Hill: "I hope they go 19-0."

Glennon: "The Patriots have the total package -- coaching and unselfish players. I think they'll run the table."

Manuel: "I think it's tremendous. I model my game after Tom Brady. Even though I'm a Cowboys' fan, there's no way the Patriots will be beat."

Christopher Lawlor

High School Basketball
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA TODAY, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball. He also ran the Gatorade national player of the year program for nine years.