Damore'ea Stringfellow gets noticed

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. -- Damore'ea Stringfellow hasn't always been Damore'ea Stringfellow to the high school football world.

Even heading into his senior season, Stringfellow was forced to come up with creative ways to spell his first name in order to find articles about himself on the Internet. He'd find it with the vowels jumbled or missing a letter or without an apostrophe, but he'd always find it.

"I kind of expected it because my name isn't easy to say, so I didn't expect it to be easy to spell," Stringfellow said.

Come January, Stringfellow will find himself in the Under Armour All-America Game. And on Thursday at his high school, the Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde senior wideout received his jersey for the game as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.

And this summer, Stringfellow found that he needed to be less creative when searching his name. That'll happen when you've committed to the Washington Huskies and are rated as California's top receiver and the nation's No. 72 overall recruit in the ESPN 150.

"It didn't affect me a lot, but now that they're getting it right, I feel pretty good about that," he said.

It's not just that they're getting it right. People are now going out of their way to talk about the guy they call "String." And with the impression he has made in a relatively short amount of time, it might not be long until Damore'ea is a household name.

Stringfellow didn't become involved in organized football until his freshman year at Rancho Verde. Though he'd throw the ball around with his stepfather at the park or with his friends at school or in the street, he stayed away from the game in any sort of official capacity.

"I guess I was a little afraid," Stringfellow said.

That all changed when he stepped foot on the Rancho Verde campus. Stringfellow was always physically advanced for his age -- he now stands 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds -- and as a freshman, he was bigger than many of the varsity players. He said because of his size, expectations of those around him have always forced him to work harder.

"I came out and practiced with the freshman team and coach (Pete) Duffy moved me up to varsity," Stringfellow said. "I guess he saw something in me."

Duffy had a heads-up from Stringfellow's stepfather -- the two were high school football opponents at one time -- that the physically gifted freshman might make a good receiver because of the ability he flashed in catching the ball at the park. Stringfellow said most people believed he'd wind up at quarterback because he spent so much time throwing the football, but Duffy immediately stuck him at receiver.

"I'm glad he did because I'm here now," Stringfellow said.

"Here is being the first player from California selected to the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game. It's an honor he doesn't take lightly and one that was set in motion from that first day on the football field.

"I always watched football as a young kid and I always wanted to be the guy," Stringfellow said. "I finally got to talk to Ronald Powell during my freshman year and he told me not to give up, to work hard and to listen to the coaches. That's what I've been doing ever since."

Stringfellow said that by watching Powell, who was rated the nation's No. 1 prospect in the ESPN 150 his senior year at Rancho Verde and is now at Florida, become one of the most highly recruited players in the area served as additional motivation.

"I always wanted to be that," Stringfellow said. "I would see people coming in to interview him from all over the place. I wanted that."

Mission accomplished for Stringfellow, who received scholarship offers from schools such as Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, UCLA, USC and Washington before he committed to the Huskies this summer. Stringfellow said his relationship with the Washington coaching staff is extremely strong and that he can't wait to get up there next year.

But first, he'll become the second Rancho Verde player to participate in the Under Armour Game, joining cornerback Ryan Henderson of the USC Trojans, who played in the 2011 edition.

"It's a great experience that a lot of people don't get and I'm blessed to have it," Stringfellow said. "It's a great program, you can tell. There are great coaches with NFL experience to learn from and playing with the best players in the country is a great opportunity in itself."

And while Stringfellow looks forward to advancing his game during the weeklong event, the end result will likely be similar to what he has achieved over the past few months.

People will remember his name.