TAMPA, Fla. -- It was another special day in the young life of four-star defensive end Anthony Chickillo.
Yet in spite of his big smile as he accepted his official jersey for the Under Armor All-American game, the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder admits he is very uncertain about his next step.
"It's been a very crazy couple of weeks for me," Chickillo said. "I'm just trying to keep a clear head and see what happens."
Chickillo is still a soft commitment to the University of Miami, he is, however, exploring all options. He took an official visit to North Carolina last weekend but canceled his official to Florida this weekend after coach Urban Meyer resigned. A new potential suitor, TCU, stopped by his school earlier Thursday to make a pitch.
But by Thursday afternoon, Chickillo was ready to be crowned as an Under Armour All-American and take part in the game that will be played just down the road.
"It's a great honor to be part of this event and a game that I feel is the best of the all-star games in high school football," Chickillo said. "The fact that it's going to be held at Tropicana Field and I will be able to play in front of my family and friends makes it that much more special."
With an impressive group of offensive linemen to go against, Chickillo talked about facing strong competition.
"I'm excited to see how I matchup against guys like Big Cyrus [Kouandjio] and Christian Westerman," Chickillo said. "Going up against guys like that in the pass rush drills, you get to see how good you really are.
Chickillo might be slightly disappointed that Kouandjio and Westerman will be joining him on the Red team for the January 5th game, but he will be looking across from a familiar foe on the White team.
"Bobby Hart and I have battled a lot at the camps and I think he's a heck of a player," Chickillo said. "He's got a lot of leg strength and he's just a guy that I really like to go against."
Still the celebratory mood of the event couldn't hide Chickillo's disappointment about the situation at Miami. When he committed to the Hurricanes two months ago it was with the hopes of following his father and grandfather by being the first third-generation Hurricane to play for the program.
"I know it's been real disappointing for the fans down in Miami that wanted to have a stable program," Chickillo added. "I was very close to coach Shannon and I'm close to the whole staff. Right now I have to understand that it's a business and I'm still interested in Miami but there's a chance that it won't work out."
Chickillo said he's talked to several of the now former members of Miami's class including quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Miami, Fla./Northwestern)
To compound that was the recent retirement from Meyer. When Chickillo committed to Miami, he had stated that Florida was his second choice due to his relationship with Meyer and former defensive line coach Dan McCarney. McCarney left last week to take the head coaching position at North Texas.
Meyer had talked with Chickillo on Monday and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio visited him at the school on Tuesday.
"Everything seemed to be just fine," Chickillo said. "Then I heard that coach Meyer was retiring and I was shocked. But in the end, I guess it is what it is."
Chickillo was planning on enrolling early at Miami and now it looks like those plans might be put on hold.
"I know I'm going to end up at a great program and there's a good chance that I will be playing with future opponents and teammates at the Under Armor Game next month," Chickillo added. "I didn't think it would be so hard at this stage of the year, but it is what it is."
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.