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December 30, 2008MORE: U.S. Army AA Bowl coverage | Practice Galleries: East | West | More all-star coverage
SAN ANTONIO - After the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Nick Alajajian will return home for one day and then head off to college at Florida where he hopes to get a jumpstart on the competition and compete for a starting job.
The Florida coaches told the Naples, Fla., standout that he will play right tackle and since he'll be on campus for spring practice and the starter at that position is graduating, Alajajian believes he'll be in the running for serious playing time.
"That's what coach expects me to do is compete," he said. "My goal is to get it."
There's no doubt Alajajian, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound recruit who was at center in Monday's opening practice, is talented enough to at least be in consideration for playing time.
Rivals.com rates him as the fourth-best offensive tackle nationally behind five-star recruits Morgan Moses and D.J. Fluker and four-star Xavier Nixon.
All three of those prospects are playing in the Army game. Alajajian is also the eighth-best recruit in the Florida top 100 and the No. 41 player in the 2009 class.
"I'm real excited," Alajajian said. "Right after this I go home for a day and then I'm off to school. They're going to compete for the national championship and (offensive line) coach (Steve) Addazio is the new offensive coordinator next year so I'm glad that happened."
Getting on campus for spring practice is crucial for early playing time. Coach Urban Meyer has said that many times in the past and Alajajian said being in Gainesville for the spring semester will give him a jumpstart not only on football but in academics and getting acclimated to college life.
His senior season was not a storybook way to cap his high school career. Alajajian missed six regular season games with an ankle injury and then Naples lost in the state quarterfinals to Miami Monsignor Pace, which also beat Alajajian's team in the season opener.
"It was pretty bad," Alajajian said. "It was my senior year and all my boys were out there without me. It was a challenge."
This week, Alajajian will compete with some of the best high school players in the country. Then it's off to a new challenge at Florida.