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November 3, 2011
Cape Coral (Fla.) Island Coast four-star safety Jordan Diggs is a goal-oriented person. At the start of his high school career, he was focused on becoming a great player with an opportunity to continue his college career after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Fast forward four years and he is able to check off all three of those goals, somewhat to his surprise.
"It is special," Diggs said. "When I started high school, being a U.S. Army All-American was one of the goals that I had for myself. It was a goal that even I thought may be too far-fetched for me to accomplish. I didn't think I would quite accomplish this. This is something that is just so big for me, this is the top-notch thing to have as far as recruiting and going through this process."
Diggs won't be the first family member to ever play in the game, as his cousin Jaylen Watkins, a defensive back who is now at Florida played in the game in January 2010. Diggs has talked with his cousin, and another pseudo-relative, about the experience of playing in San Antonio, Texas in front of a nationwide audience.
"He really just told me to enjoy it and soak up every bit of it," Diggs said. "He said to just enjoy playing in it. He said it is a great experience and to make sure I get everything out of it. He told me about the practices and the set-up of them. He told me about how the playing time works. I have also been talking to his (half) brother who is kind of like a cousin to me, Sammy Watkins, who was in it last year. We have been talking through texts and facebook, but he has told me about the game and said I should do fine, which made me feel good."
While the week in San Antonio, Texas is first and foremost about fun for Diggs, he admits that when they strap on the helmet and suit up on the field for both practices and the game his mindset will turn towards competition.
"It is definitely going to be fun altogether, but it is going to be both of those things, about fun and competition," Diggs said. "I think everybody will be trying to see how they stack up and compete with one another. We are definitely going to compete."
One of the people that Diggs will compete against in practice and alongside in the game is his high school and East Team teammate, four-star running back Mario Pender.
"I know me and my teammate Mario, we are already prepping for it," Diggs said. "I think we had our best day of practice, liveliest one-on-one session all year (on Tuesday). We went at it. It will be that way out there."
Diggs is looking forward to enjoying the experience in San Antonio alongside his friend and teammate. The two have grown close during a difficult year when Diggs had to appeal to the FHSAA to regain his eligibility after his transfer from nearby Bishop Verot was ruled illegal.
"Mario is more like a brother to me than ever," Diggs said. "We just grew so close during the summer and throughout the season. With everything I was going through with my situation, he was a friend to me who was there after every step. I called him after every appeal and everything I went through. It is great to go into this thing with somebody that I know already."
The game will also provide another experience for Diggs, as it will be the location of where he makes his college commitment.
"Right now that is the plan," Diggs said of announcing his college intentions during the NBC broadcast.
At this time, Diggs top five receiving heavy consideration are Michigan State, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. He has previously taken official visits to Nebraska and Vanderbilt. This coming weekend he is taking an official visit to Tennessee. He also has an official visit scheduled to South Carolina for when the Gamecocks host Clemson, rescheduled from the originally planned date of Nov. 11. As for his fifth and final official visit, it may be Michigan State or it could be another school.
"I am still talking to a few other schools, but right now Michigan State is leading for that fifth visit," Diggs said. "I am talking to Ole Miss and Ohio State also. Those are the two trying to get me on campus. I built a bond with those coaches early on. Those are systems I feel I can excel in but I just wasn't quite sure about. So I am just asking questions and talking with those coaches, doing the best that I can, to figure out if they are teams I will consider when it comes time to make my decision."
Diggs' brother, Jeremy Ware, is a former defensive back at Michigan State. Earlier in the process, Diggs spent five days in East Lansing along with his brother, allowing him to learn a great deal about the Spartans. That being said, it would still be crucial for Mark Dantonio's team to host him on an official visit as they will play a crucial role in his final decision.
"My official visits are very important," Diggs said. "I will be ready to really evaluate and compare the schools after my visits. They are crucial for me making my decision.
"There is no school leading at this point," Diggs added.
Diggs and the East team take on the West in the 12th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be nationally televised on NBC.