October 9, 2011

Lake invited to all-star game

LIVINGSTON | Alabama commitment Darren Lake emerged on the scene late as a top recruit and because of that, the 330-pound defensive tackle was not invited to either the U.S. Army All-American Bowl or the Under Armour All-American game, the two biggest high school all-star games.

After dominating camps at Alabama and Tennessee over the summer, Lake began turning some heads, and that, combined with his performance this season, earned the Sumter Central star an invite to a third all-star game, the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

It's the first year for the game, held Jan. 3 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. Lake said he was excited when he received the invitation.

"It felt real good when they called and said I got invited to that game," Lake said. "I've never been to a place far away. Tennessee was the longest place I've ever been to. I've never been on a plane. I'm excited and a little scared, too."

Sumter Central (5-2) won big Friday night, but Lake had a quiet night with just three tackles, including two for a loss. Even though it doesn't always show up in the stat sheet, Lake has still been a force for the Jaguars.

"Darren's doing great," Sumter Central head coach Andre Pickering said. "It looks like his stats aren't as great because everybody double teams him, but he's the reason that Kelvin McCollum gets 20 tackles a game."

Though he's already committed to Alabama that hasn't stopped Lake from trying to get better each game. The Crimson Tide's biggest commitment has been focusing on his quickness and ability to take on double teams.

"I'm working on my quickness, my quickness off the ball and the techniques," Lake said. "The (Alabama) staff wants me to work on my hand placement. They've told me that I've got to get quick, and being quick on defense is all about the hands."

Lake's commitment also hasn't stopped other schools from trying to recruit him. He says he still receives mail from Auburn and Tennessee, which have both invited him to take in a game.

"I've thought about other schools, but Alabama is still the school that I'm going to when I graduate."

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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