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January 5, 2011

Chickillo takes UA MVP honors

More UA: Tuesday's notes | Tuesday's best | All-star coverage

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Defensive end Anthony Chickillo never has been happy with his prospect ranking, never has understood why he hasn't gotten more hype, never has felt as if he has been given enough respect.

With that in mind, he arrived at the Under Armour All-America Game with an incredibly lofty goal. Simply put, he wanted people to think he was "the best defensive linemen in the country."

Considering No. 1 prospect Jadeveon Clowney also was on hand -- and playing on his same team -- that would be no small task to achieve.

Yet when Wednesday night's game at Tropicana Field -- a 24-22 win by the Red Team -- was over, it was Chickillo, a 6-foot-3, 226-pounder from nearby Tampa who was the player event officials had named game Most Valuable Player.

"I came in hungry," Chickillo said. "I'm not the fastest. I'm not the strongest. But I'm going to go 100 miles per hour every single play."

That was evident.

Chickillo, who is committed to Miami, recorded 1.5 sacks, four total tackles, one fumble recovery and one quarterback hurry. If Chickillo's quick first step didn't give him an edge, his tenaciousness often did the trick.

All of this, mind you, came against players such as touted offensive tackle La'El Collins, an LSU commit and the country's No. 2 overall prospect.

"He was getting around the tackles," observed White Team offensive guard Brey Cook.

To Chickillo, Wednesday's performance was not out of the ordinary. Nor was it unexpected.

To be honest, he competed just like he thought he would.

"I played well today," Chickillo said. "I went up against a whole bunch of great guys. No doubt about it. I'm excited. And we came out with the victory. I've been waiting my whole life for this."

To say the least, Chickillo enjoyed being one end with Clowney as the other. Because both presented so many problems, the White Team offense couldn't focus on just one of them, and each came up large. Clowney, who is uncommitted, also had 1.5 sacks, and at times couldn't be blocked.

"He's a great player," Chickillo said. "For the most part, he's a great guy. I've learned so much coming out here. I've enjoyed it so much."

While Chickillo is committed to Miami, he has left the door open for other programs in the wake of Randy Shannon's recent dismissal as Hurricanes coach. Thus far, Chickillo has officially visited only North Carolina. He will visit Florida this weekend and Miami two weeks later. Florida State also will get a visit, though a date hasn't been finalized.

This week, Chickillo took a break from recruiting to focus solely on self-improvement. At practices, he consistently was among the top performers, even though his frame admittedly isn't as impressive as Clowney and some of the game's other participants.

"He works hard," Clowney said of his teammate.

All in all, Chickillo was more than a little pleased with how things turned out. Playing a half hour from home, he was the game's brightest star.


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