Ira Denson plays for then and now

About 55 miles to the east of Tallahassee, Fla., lies a small, close-knit town called Madison, Fla.

High school football is king there. For many, it is a ticket out of town. A chance to move on to bigger and better things.

Four-star offensive guard Ira Denson, a commitment to Florida State, is the latest prospect to come through the Madison County Cowboys' program and into recruiting stardom. On Friday, he received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey at his school as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour, validating to the nation his elite status.

"It is going to be one of the biggest moments of my life," Denson said prior to the jersey ceremony. "I am really pumped up about it. It is a real honor. I did what it took to get there, so it is a big accomplishment in my life to get chosen for that."

During such a bestowment, the ESPN 150's No. 3 offensive guard prospect and the No. 99 prospect overall didn't forget the ones who got him to this point. No, instead, these lifelong comrades who have been with him every step of the way were at his side once again.

"My closest friends were with me," he said. "All my teammates and my coach were in the front with me. I've known them all since middle school. They are my friends, my closest friends.

"It is special, because when I make it, we all make it."

In Madison, everyone knows the magnitude of such an achievement. It is an honor a couple other Madison County standouts have earned in the past.

Like him, Jacobbi McDaniel and Chris Thompson, both in their senior seasons at Florida State, earned All-American honors from Under Armour in high school. Both have made significant contributions to the Seminoles' football program and to their personal worth by getting an education.

Denson said he watched McDaniel and Thompson in the UA Game, and being able to continue that proud tradition has him on cloud nine.

"That is a big factor. People where I am from really don't get recognized like that," he said. "That is a really a big thing. My mom is so proud of me, I am proud of myself. It is a big accomplishment."

Although fresh off an unofficial visit to Florida, FSU's chief in-state rival, Denson says his future is set in Tallahassee. And it might be coming a little quicker than expected.

Plans to enroll early at Florida State are in the works, although not finalized.

"I can't wait to get to Florida State," Denson said. "I am thinking about graduating early, but I don't know for sure yet."