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January 6, 2012St. Petersburg, Fla. - Tennessee commits Dalton Santos, Pig Howard, and Justin Meredith didn't have the impact in the game they would have liked Thursday night at the Under Armour All-American Game.
Santos recorded a handful of tackles, Howard touched the ball seven times for 41 yards and Meredith was limited on the night battling a hamstring injury in Team Blur's (White) 49-16 win over Team Highlight (Black).
Even though the game was highlighted by other players, the Tennessee commits admitted it was a once in a lifetime experience
"It was a great experience, I really enjoyed it, playing with these guys and playing on national television, it was just a real great experience to be here," Santos said.
"It's something you look back on in ten years and sit down and think it was a great time playing with some good guys and later I'll be playing against or with and that's something to tell the kids one day," Santos said.
Howard said Thursday night's game was a preview of what's to come for him at the next level.
"This is a great experience to come out here and compete against these guys, it's a little preview of what college is going to be like. I enjoyed every bit of it and it's going to better me for the next level," Howard said.
For Meredith, this week was about building relationships with players across the country.
"Just, building relationships with these guys. Besides Santos and Pig, I'll be playing against them, so this is the one time we'll be on a team together," Meredith said. "It's just good to build relationships and hopefully later on in the future I'll get to see some of these guys."
Even without the touchdown grabs or monster hits, they were happy to be in one of the country's most prestigious high school football games.
"It's an experience and you've just got to enjoy and cherish the moment. It's the last high school game and it's going to be something that you remember forever," Howard said.
MEREDITH'S GAME ENDS EARLY
Meredith has been hampered by a hamstring injury since last summer and reinjured it at the beginning of the week. He tried to tough it out but during the second quarter he injured it again when he and a player from Team Blur went down together.
"We just got tangled up and I stepped really hard, and it just kind of popped. I kind of expected it, but I'm glad I got to play a little bit," Meredith said of the injury.
Even though he only played in just a few downs, he said he was glad for the experience.
"I just wanted to be out here with all the guys and at least experience it and I don't know how many plays, probably six or seven plays or whatever, but at least I got out here," Meredith said.
SANTOS LENDS HELPING HAND
On one play, Howard took a hand off and was run out of bounds with Santos holding him up when they reached the sidelines. While the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Howard claims he was too fast to be hit by the 6-3, 255-pound Santos, Santos said he may have let up.
"He knew it, he knew he was done. If I didn't see Howard (on the back of the jersey) it was over on the sideline. I had him but I didn't want to slam him, I thought,' I can't slam Pig right here, not today," Santos said.
HOWARD CLOSE TO BREAKING ONE
Howard had the most action of the Vol commits Thursday night, carrying the ball five times and returning two kickoffs.
While he was mostly stopped on his runs, he gained zero net yards, he had his chance to break off a long return on his first one before room ran out.
"I felt like I had a little seam and I tried to squeeze up in there, but I caught up a little bit," Howard said.