My phone rang late last night, December 26, but on the other end of the line was a kid who sounded like he was in the middle of Christmas morning. Richard Sherman on Monday started a busy and physically demanding week, but he is soaking in the practices and activities leading up to Saturday's seventh annual edition of the CaliFlorida Bowl. Each year the event, which alternating sites in the Golden State and Sunshine State, pits some of the best high school senior football players from California and Florida. You can watch the game live this Saturday at 3:00pm (PST) on Fox Sports West 2.
"It's very awesome," Sherman exclaims. "This is like a D-I experience with all the talent here. The practice tempo is a lot faster than a regular practice I'm used to, but it didn't take me anytime really to adjust. Just know your assignment and know where to be on the field."
Sherman is a two-way standout who has drawn equally rave reviews for his play as a wideout as well as in the defensive backfield. For CaliFlorida Bowl VII, the Compton (Calif.) Dominguez High School senior is proudly representing the west coast crew as a wide receiver. Just a few weeks ago, Sherman and the Dominguez Dons brought home an improbable CIF Southern Section Division III championship, though the team was built primarily running the ball. Though the Dons threw once for every nine times they ran the ball, Sherman will have one great taste this Saturday in an air-it-out offense.
"It's going to be totally different," he explains. "We have four-wide receiver sets in practice, and I could line up in either slot or in either wideout position. We have a lot of different formations, and a lot of ways to throw the ball."
Sherman is joined by a host of other excellent SoCal athletes, including Terrence Austin, Travon Patterson, Darian Hagan and Alterraun Verner. Verner, who has committed to UCLA, is roommates with Sherman this week. The Bruins tendered an offer to the Dominguez dandy during his junior year, so you could expect Verner to give a little chatter on the wonders of Westwood.
"People talk about recruiting, but nobody is really trying to convince anybody to go anywhere," Sherman counters. "People just ask what school you're going to, and then they say, 'That's a good school.' And we talk about what kind of season they had."
With practices twice a day, and a slate full of other activities at Disneyland and elsewhere in Anaheim, there is little time to talk recruiting. The 6'2" student-athlete instead is focused on enjoying the most of this time, and come Saturday putting forth a big performance.
"I hope to score a couple times, stretch the defense and show my punt return ability," Sherman shares. "Yeah, people don't talk much about my punt returns, but I ran back six touchdowns this year, though three were called back."
After he concludes the final football game of his high school career on New Year's Eve, Richard Sherman will turn the calendar and return his attention to the recruiting process. He holds offers from Stanford, Mississippi State, UCLA, UNLV, Nevada and Colorado but has taken just one official visit to date. That brought him to the Bulldogs' campus during Thanksgiving weekend, when he was able to watch a big win (35-14) for Mississippi State over rivals Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.
"I'd say that Stanford and Mississippi State are my favorites right now," Sherman says.
The receiver/cornerback combo recruit will take his official trip to The Farm the second weekend of January, but first he will sashay to Seattle for his only other scheduled official visit.
"Washington hasn't offered yet, but they probably will on the trip," the recruit reports. "They say that they just like me as a football player. They want me to play as an athlete, not sure yet on which side of the ball."
Since his admissions acceptance earlier this month, most observers have pegged this race favorably for the Cardinal, sooner rather than later. But Sherman says that he will not make any college commitment until he takes at least these two upcoming trips. January is still the target, and that time is coming soon enough.
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