Joe Montana, Emmitt Smith and John Elway all jubilantly said they were going to Disney World after winning the Super Bowl. This January, the nation's best high school football players will head there too for the first ESPNU High School All-American Game.
The game will air nationally on Jan. 5 on ABC at 2 p.m. ET. The nation's top two prospects, Foley High School (Ala.) wide receiver Julio Jones and St. Peter's Prep (N.J.) versatile quarterback Will Hill, are among the players who have agreed to play in the game so far.
"It is both exciting and overwhelming," said Jones, who last year caught 75 passes for 1,306 yards and 16 touchdowns.
"It's fun -- it lets people around the country get a feel for who I am as a player," said Hill, who last year led his team to the N.J. state championship. "I won't pay too much attention to the cameras though."
That won't be an easy task. Besides the game itself on ABC, ESPNU will televise the week's practices and ESPN2 will air a special skills competition on Jan. 4. Players will hone their skills against the nation's best, and fans will get a glimpse of the college and NFL stars of tomorrow.
"It's very important to find out just what your talent level is when facing the best players available," said Hill. "It lets me know what I need to do to get better."
"It is very important to compare myself against the best players at each position and I really want to prove myself against the top cornerbacks," said Jones, who last year had 137 yards and two touchdowns in a matchup against LSU signee Phelon Jones.
ESPN Scouts Inc. will select the 75-80 players who will participate in the game.
"Both Jones and Hill are as good as we've seen," raved ESPN.com and Scouts Inc. national recruiting director Tom Luginbill.
"Julio Jones is a freak at wide receiver. Over the last three classes, there hasn't been an offensive player as physically dominant as he is at wide receiver. And Will Hill is fun to watch -- simply a big play waiting to happen."
Forty players have already been selected, including other star prospects like Van High School (Texas) running back Jermie Calhoun, an Oklahoma commit, and Summerville High School (S.C.) wide receiver A.J. Green, a Georgia commit. The remaining players will be nominated during the upcoming high school football season, giving players who have big senior seasons a chance to participate.
"We look forward to growing this all-star game into one of the country's premier sporting events for amateur athletics, while also giving even more prep athletes an opportunity to showcase their talent on a national stage," said Burke Magnus, vice president and general manager, ESPNU.
While they gain unprecedented national exposure, the players also stay at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, take a trip to Disney World, enjoy a New Year's Eve celebration in Orlando, view the BCS Championship Game together and participate in an awards banquet.