Danny Cowgill isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel.
As defensive coordinator for the U.S. Under-19 National Team, Cowgill’s job is let the collective talent on his unit shine through.
Then get out of the way.
“These guys come from good programs. There’s not too much we have to teach them,” said Cowgill, the head coach at Foley (Ala.) High School. “We’re not teaching them to walk. We are giving them basic formations that will make their jobs easier.
Team USA is preparing for the fourth annual International Bowl. Kickoff is 8 p.m. CT Tuesday at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Austin, Texas.
U.S. safety Delando Johnson of Towson, Md., said the defense is designed to bring out the best in the Team USA players. It’s similar to the defense he played in at Calvert Hall High School, making for a smooth transition.
“It lets me see the backfield, read routes and break on balls,” said Johnson, a Toledo recruit. “It’s all there to let us be who we are.”
The enthusiasm and motivation the U.S. players have shown has been big for coaches, Cowgill said. When a player receives instruction, the rest are listening so coaches don’t have to repeat themselves.
“These players have been very professional,” Cowgill said. “These aren’t just great players. They are great people, and that makes this fun.”
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ONE TON OF FUN U.S. defensive line coach Marc Beach of Daytona Beach (Fla.) Seabreeze High School holds film study each night in his hotel room to go over that day’s practice.
It can get a bit crowded.
“Eight guys, 300 pounds each in one room gets cozy real quick,” Beach said. “It’s been worth it though. This group really likes each other and has grown together quickly.”
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DIVE RIGHT IN Among the most electrifying plays from Team USA’s two Friday practices was a diving interception on a deep sideline pass by cornerback Jourdan Lewis of Cass Tech High School in Detroit. The pick came at the tail end of Friday’s morning practice during the full team segment, drawing whoops and hollers from his teammates.
“We were in a Cover 4, and I was responsible for the deep corner,” he said. “I saw the receiver start to break on an out route and anticipated the pass.”
The interception was the Michigan verbal commit’s second in three practices.
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SHAKE IT UP When wearing a football helmet, Team USA defensive back Marco DelVecchio collects interceptions. When he’s not in pads, he collects something else.
Snow globes and neckties.
“My mom got me a snow globe when I was around 6 years old,” the Warwick (R.I.) Bishop Hendricken High School senior said. “I just loved it – I was fascinated by it. I shook it every night before I went to bed. I probably have more than 50 of them.
“The way the snow falls on it, it’s crazy, and the little objects in it – it brightens up your day just by looking at them if you’re going through a tough time.”
As part of his Catholic high school dress code, DelVecchio wears a necktie every day for school.
“My mom got me a rotating necktie holder for Christmas one year, and I just wanted to fill it up,” he said. “I’ve got ties for all sports, different holidays, different colors, designs. I wear a different tie every day – you can’t repeat.”
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COASTER CAUTION Run crossing patterns over the middle amidst aggressive linebackers? No problem.
Catch a horror flick or hitch a ride on a rollercoaster? Uh, no thanks.
“I’m only afraid of scary movies and rollercoasters,” U.S. wide receiver Ish Hyman of Holmdel (N.J.) St. John Vianney High School said. “I’ve never watched scary movies since I was little. The first one I saw was Chucky (“Child’s Play”), and I got real scared, and I’ve never wanted to see a scary movie again.”
Hyman, who is verbally committed to Kansas, had a bad experience on a rollercoaster at age 7 and became sick to his stomach. What would it take to get him back on one?
“A lot of money,” he said.
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FLYING HIGH U.S. kicker Matthew McCrane depends on his legs, but when he represents his country in Tuesday’s International Bowl, he’ll be thinking of wings.
“My late great-grandfather was a World War II veteran and a co-pilot of a B-17,” McCrane said. “He will have the best seat in the house.”
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BOWLED OVER When standing near Tere Calloway (first name pronounced “tur-RAY”), don’t get between him and his bowling ball. Calloway, a Team USA defensive back from Seattle Prep, is no fair-weather bowler.
“On weekends, I’ll go with my friends and start bowling, and I’ll go all the time during the week,” the Nevada commit said. “It gets real competitive. We take bowling seriously – that’s something that I love to do.
“You can walk with a swagger while wearing funny shoes,” he said with a laugh. “It can be done.”
The right-handed Calloway bowls approximately 20 games per week and holds an average near 190.