T.J. Lawrence made a prominent place for himself on the recruiting map for the Florida Gators when he tore it up at Friday Night Lights. He was uncoverable. Not even ESPN’s #1 rated corner in the country, Patrick Johnson, could stop him. He left the camp with a smile on his face and now he’s got another reason to smile. ESPN Recruiting Analyst Tom Luginbill has called to invite him to the ESPN All-American Game.
“I was real happy when I got the call for the ESPN game,” Lawrence said. “I feel good about it. It’s an honor and I’m excited.”
Lawrence will be one of the many playmakers on display for ESPN’s first High School All-American Game, which takes place in Orlando January 5. While some of the players will be flying in from all over the nation, the 6-1, 185-pound wide receiver from Lakeland Kathleen will have to drive less than an hour to Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.
A week at the Disney complex is only one reason to be excited.
“We get to play on ESPN!” Lawrence said. “That pretty much says it all. We were supposed to play Lakeland on ESPN a few years ago but that didn’t happen. Now even our practices will be on ESPN. It’s like you’re in the big leagues. I’m pumped up.
“I’m excited about showing my talent on a national level. I didn’t think I would get invited to an All-American game because I’m kind of an under the radar recruit on other sites.”
One of the best opportunities provided by games like this is the ability players have to meet other recruits. It gives them a chance to relax and meet other players who are dealing with the same pressures they are with coaches and media.
“I just know of a few guys playing in it,” Lawrence said. “I know Carlton Thomas is from around me, down in Frostproof. I haven’t talked to him, but I know of him.”
Lawrence has spent most of the summer in Lakeland working out with his high school team. He didn’t spend a lot of time going to camps.
“I would say that I’ve been busy so far,” he said. “I only camped at Florida (Friday Night Lights) and then one of my buddies wanted me to go with him to a camp at Troy so I did that too.”
Count Lawrence among the recruits that are happy the NCAA has banned text messaging.
“I’m glad texting is done,” he said. “Most schools have gone to e-mails now, but even that isn’t a big deal because my phone doesn’t beep all the time. There’s really nothing else the coaches can do.”
As Lawrence continues the recruiting process, he does claim a top five and a list of schools to visit at this time.
“I’ve got a top five set,” Lawrence said. “Virginia Tech, Florida, Boise State, South Carolina, and LSU. Those are the five visits I will take. I haven’t decided the dates for any of those just yet.”
While Lawrence plans to see each of the schools before announcing his decision, he is already planning his visit to Gainesville with Coach Charlie Strong (Florida co-defensive coordinator).
“I’m thinking about visiting Florida officially sometime in January,” Lawrence said. “I’m going to take this process slow. It’s the biggest decision of my life.”