Locals migrate to Florida for football
by Nick Birdsong
Jan 03, 2012 | 4370 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The same weekend three players from The Star’s coverage area arrived in Orlando, Fla., to prepare for Thursday’s Under Armour All-America game, two that could play in next year’s game visited the area to participate in a training combine with the nation’s best.

Piedmont junior Jamie Major and Handley offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman were among a select group of high school football players from across the country chosen to showcase their skills at the Under Armour Combine at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

“I’d seen it on TV and saw guys playing it,” Major said of the camp. “But I never thought I’d be playing in it.”

Major is coming off another stellar season.

A starter at linebacker since he was a freshman on a Bulldogs’ team that brought Piedmont its first state title in the sport, the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder switched to defensive back as a junior. He tallied 98 tackles and three interceptions on his way to being named a first-team selection to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 3A All-State team for the second consecutive season.

He was also Piedmont’s primary option at running back, carrying the ball 95 times for 760 yards and a team-best 17 touchdowns.

Major and Bozeman, an Alabama commit, were two of 150 players invited to participate. Autauga Academy wider receiver O.J. Howard, also committed to Alabama, participated as well. Huntsville linebacker Cameron Toney was invited but didn’t attend after having surgery.

Players participated in a battery of exercises and drills to test their mettle, including the bench press, 40-yard dash and speed and agility circuits while being overseen by a group of coaches who had NFL and high-level college experience.

“It was great to meet new people and vibe with people who you may have seen but never met,” Major said. “It was also helpful to me to ask guys how they got where they are and what it takes to get offers. It helped me.”

The 6-4 Bozeman, who’s slimmed down to 309 from 325, his playing weight during the season, to help with his quickness, posted the top performance on the bench press with 32 reps at 185 pounds.

For Bozeman it was his first trip on a plane and his first trip to Florida. But make no mistakes about it, the trip was all business for the player expected to be one of the top-ranked players in the state in the Class of 2013 when those rankings are released.

“I felt like I did pretty good,” Bozeman said. “But I could’ve done better. I want to be the best and whenever I’m not the best, I’m upset with it. I can improve on everything, technique, foot work, hand placement, anything that will make me better.”

Bozeman logged more than 60 pancake blocks this past season and is candidate for 3A Lineman of the Year and Mr. Football.

• SEEDING MEETING: With Alabama and Auburn trading taking trips to the national title game like Run and DMC trading lines on Run DMC’s classic rap records back in the day, the focus seems to be all on football until mid-January around these parts. But the one event that ushers us all into hoops hysteria is the annual Calhoun County tournament.

The seeding meeting for this year’s tournament will be held Wednesday at 6 p.m. at host school Donoho. Anniston took home the girls’ title while Oxford won the boys’ crown last year.

The tournament will take place Jan. 14-21 at Pete Mathews Coliseum in Jacksonville.

Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.

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