If the Godby Cougars (Tallahassee, Fla) weren't already excited enough with a 7-0 start, they were given even more good news on Tuesday when wide receiver Willie Downs and offensive lineman/defensive lineman Corey Gaines were named U.S. Army All-Americans at a press conference at their high school auditorium. FV was there for the announcement and caught up with the talented duo after the ceremony to talk about their big honor and break down the upcoming nationally televised match-up with Madison County this weekend.
It's been a long wait for Godby Cougar head coach Shelton Crews to say he has an U.S. Army All-American on his squad. However, today that wait came to an end when two of his players received that honor - Corey Gaines and Willie Downs.
"This is a tremendous honor for both Willie and Corey. They have both worked so hard and I'm very excited for them," replied Coach Crews.
To be recognized as one of the nation's best is not something FV five-star WR Willie Downs takes lightly. In fact, Downs credits his teammates for putting him in position to be named a U.S. Army All-American.
"This is very special to me, being named an All-American. The credit goes to all my teammates because without my offensive line and one of the best quarterbacks in the state in A.J. Graham, I wouldn't have this opportunity," said Downs.
His teammate Corey Gaines was also grateful for the honor.
"Oh man I was so nervous just waiting up there for the announcement and it's really a dream come true for me. I've worked so hard each year with my strength, and quickness to have this type of opportunity, "Gaines replied.
Big upcoming rivalry game
Although this is one the highest honors for a high school athlete, the talented duo is also anxious for another upcoming event this week. The Cougars (ranked no. 3 in Class 3A) head to Madison (Fla.) this Friday for a nationally televised game with the no. 1 team in Class 2A.
"Oh I can't wait. It's going to be really exciting. We have a lot of respect for those guys. There is going to be a lot of fireworks in that match-up. This is the type of game that you dream of playing in and we're ready for the Cowboys," Downs replied.
For Corey Gaines, it's a chance at redemption, but at the same time an opportunity to continue a great rivalry. Making the opportunity even more special is the fact that Gaines gets to clash with his good friend Jacobbi McDaniel.
"We've been talking back and forth about how we are both ready for the game. No one has more respect for Jacobbi than me. He just told me they are ready to take us on and it's going to be a big time test for both teams. You don't get bigger test than going up against Jacobbi," said Gaines.
Gaines also revealed the keys to the game for the Cougars if they want to pull off the upset over the Cowboys. Last year, Godby nearly pulled off the feat barely falling to Madison 28-23 in Tallahassee.
"You have to stay disciplined and make the sure plays and tackles against a team like Madison. We also have to really limit the big plays for their offense. I feel if our defense comes out ready to play, Madison could be in trouble, but at the same time we know how dangerous their offense is with Chris Thompson and Cory Akins. The one play you really have to slow down is the sweep play for Madison because they are so good at attacking another team's weaknesses and once you show it, they don't let up," Gaines replied.
Duo talks recruiting
On the recruiting front both Downs and Gaines are focused on future destinations. For Downs his destination is already set at Florida State, whereas Gaines is still undecided at this time. But according to Gaines, two top teams from the SEC lead the way for his services.
"I would have to say Arkansas and Ole Miss are my leaders. I feel really comfortable with the staff there. I'm also impressed with the academics for both programs. Both schools like me as a defensive lineman, although I do play the offensive line as well. I have a very good and close relationship with Ole Miss recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn who is a former Godby player. I will take my official visits later to each school, but that's where things stand right now."
Downs on the other hand couldn't be more excited and thrilled about his decision to become a Seminole. In fact, as soon as FSU offered, his recruitment was over.
"It's been my dream to play there ever since I was a little boy. I attend nearly every single home game and I just can't wait to get over there next year and contribute right away."
Talent has never been an issue for Downs, who is one of the top players in Florida. However, the one growing concern among Seminole fans is if he will qualify. Downs isn't taking that concern lightly.
"I got a little behind and needed to recognize how important my grades were. I just got my report card this past week and everything is looking good. The coaches laid out a plan and as long as I finish it out, I will be at FSU next season. It was a situation where I had to look at myself in the mirror and understand I have to take responsibility for my grades. I'm working hard to make sure that I will be at FSU next season."