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October 30, 2008MORE: U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour | Announcement Tour Gallery
Five-star offensive lineman Nick Alajajian received another big honor on Wednesday when he was named a U.S. Army All-American. FlaVarsity.com spoke with the Naples (Fla.) High lineman after the ceremony about being selected for the all-star game and found out how firm his commitment is to the Florida Gators.
Alajajian (pronounced Ala-JAY-wan) became the first Naples player to be honored as a U.S. Army All-American when he was presented with his jersey at a 9:00 a.m. ceremony at his high school.
"It's really exciting and I'm blessed to have this kind of opportunity to play against the best in the nation. Receiving this award was very rewarding and shows how hard work does really pay off. I can't wait for the game and I'm going to celebrate this for a little bit but then it's back to work because we still have a lot of work to do. Hopefully we can repeat as State Champions," replied Alajajian.
Earlier this year, Alajajian committed to Florida. But there have been rumors that he might be looking around because Florida's offensive coach Steve Addazio is a possible candidate for the Syracuse job next year. Is there any truth to this rumor?
"I'm a Gator and I'm very firm in my decision to attend Florida. I talked with Coach Addazio about those rumors and he just mentioned how other teams are just trying to use that as a recruiting tool. He said I'm stuck with him for a while and he isn't going anywhere. Florida is where I want to be and where I will be come next year. I talk to him every Wednesday, so he'll be pretty excited when I tell him about being named a U.S. Army All-American."
While Alajajian is firm in his decision, the Gators might be in for a little surprise.
"I plan on enrolling early at Florida if all goes well. There's a really good chance if I pick up the system I can get on the field and help the offense early and that's what I expect to do. I love the system Florida runs and I had a really good time when I took visits over there for the Miami and LSU game. I also plan to be there for the South Carolina game."
On those visits Alajajian struck up a strong relationship with another 2009 prospect and could already have a roommate picked out once he arrives in Gainesville.
"I met Pahokee wide receiver Nu'keese Richardson there and we both have the same goals. He's very competitive when it comes to producing on the football field and he loves Florida a lot. Nu'keese is a tremendous player that should help us out very early in his career. He's a pretty cool guy and he's also enrolling early, so it's possible we could be roommates at Florida. I talk with him pretty frequently, along with a few other recruits or targets the Gators are going after."
Before Alajajian steps foot on the University of Florida campus, he has a little unfinished business to take care of as his Naples Eagles look to repeat as 3A State Champions. The Eagles got off to a slow start after falling to Monsignor Pace earlier in the season. However, that game was played without Alajajian and a lot has changed since then.
"We knew coming in there were a lot of new faces on defense and I'm confident those guys will do their part. However, it's up to us on the offense to help them out and if we have to outscore everyone then so be it. I think the biggest difference with our team on both sides of the ball in contrast to when we lost to Monsignor Pace is that everyone is now on the same page and the chemistry is much better."
Now that he is back on the field, how is his injury healing up?
"My ankle is fine, I don't really think about the injury or if there are lingering effects. All I'm thinking about is taking care of my job out there by opening up some big holes and protecting our quarterback."
So with Alajajian back in the fold, the biggest question is, does this team have enough to repeat as State Champions?
"I'm 100 percent sure we can, but we just have to continue to work hard, and keep that focus on each game. We have two big district games coming up and if we win those two we will be home for the first round of the playoffs, which is key. Everything is starting to come together, and we know without a shadow of a doubt we are going to get everyone's best shot. We know there are some that doubt us and say we're not as good as last year. But we have to play our game and our team just uses that as motivation."