InsidetheGators.net is kicking off our in-depth coverage from the three high school All American games with a nightly diary with a player from each contest. Up first is Rivals100 member and University of Florida commitment, Fort Washington (M.D.) Friendly athlete Joe Haden.
THE CHECK IN Haden said that while it's fun to mingle with the other players, he knows that there is a game to be played:
"Everybody has been real nice. We're all talking and getting to know each other. We're all competitors, once we get out there, we're here to play to win."
"My roommate here is a defensive back Chris (Hill) that committed to Virginia Tech. He's down watching the game (Hokies vs. Bulldogs) right now."
"We had a team meeting and then we went to a little walk through on formations and went over some things we are going to do tomorrow. They had some video games set up with Madden and NCAA (football), but I didn't play, I watched."
POY CANDIDATE Earlier today Rivals.com National Recruiting Editor Jeremy Crabtree made it a point to inform InsidetheGators.net of the humble, excited reaction of Haden upon learning that he was a finalist for Player of the Year honors.
A couple of hours later, Haden was still buzzing with excitement:
"Today I found out that I have been nominated for the National Player of the Year. I had no idea that was going to happen. It's good to be noticed as one of the best players in the nation when there are players (here) who have committed to go to Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Southern Cal. It's a big deal for me.
FUTURE ROOMIES The Offense-Defense All American Bowl feature several players the Gators are recruiting, as well as several who are already committed.
Haden discussed one such player:
"I was talking to Cameron Newton earlier. He's going to be my roommate when we get to Florida. We're talking about getting to Florida and doing our thing. It's tight that we're both graduating early, going to Florida and playing in this game. He's a quarterback and I'm going to be playing receiver so we're getting a connection started."
GAINESVILLE OR BUST While Newton is heading home for a day or two after the conclusion of the game on Saturday, Haden on the other hand is heading straight to Gainesville:
"I didn't have time to go all the way back to Maryland so my parents started driving down here last night and got here this morning with all my stuff. I won't be able to go back home, I'll be going straight to Florida when I leave here on Saturday."
THE COACH FROM TWO-A-DAYS The head coach of the East squad is Rush Propst from Hoover high school in Alabama. While he has won state title after state title, his main claim to fame to many has been the weekly series Two-a-Days on MTV.
Haden said he watched the show, but he hasn't seen the same coach in person that he saw on his TV screen - so far:
"He seems way more calm, but I don't know how he's going to be tomorrow. He said his big thing is being on time. I got a feeling he might be more like he was on TV tomorrow. We'll see how it goes."