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December 11, 2012

Stars come out on New York tour

MORE: New York Tour: Monday

NEW YORK -- The last two parts of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Player of the Year tour in New York City were probably the highlights of the three days for the trio of candidates on hand in the Big Apple.

Running backs Derrick Green and Derrick Henry and safety Su'a Cravens got to meet some of the legends of college football Monday night and Tuesday afternoon.

Green, Henry and Cravens got exclusive tickets to the 2012 Heisman Trophy Dinner, an annual event held in downtown Manhattan to introduce the recent Heisman winner and celebrate the legends.

Emceed by ESPN's Rece Davis and with such esteemed guests such as former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, race car legend Jeff Gordon (this year's Heisman Humanitarian winner) and NHL Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine (previous winner of the Humanitarian honor), it was a star-studded event and the three U.S. Army All Americans became part of that group.

Wearing their U.S. Army All American jerseys over their dress attire at the request of the tour, the trio stood out. Attendees could tell they were more than your average Heisman and college football fans.

"It was cool that people kept coming up to us and asking us who we are and when they found out, they were asking a ton of questions or asking us to pose for pictures," said Cravens, the nation's No. 1 safety and No. 5 overall. "Some of them thought we were in college, some thought we played for Army and some thought we were actually in the service. But when they realized who we were, there was always the same question -- where are you going to college?"

That's where Henry, the nation's No. 4 athlete, suddenly became very popular.

"When they heard Alabama, they were all over him," Cravens said with a laugh. "Alabama is very popular out here on the East Coast I guess. One guy knew who I was and said he thought they were going to get me because I listed Alabama really early in the process. But Derrick was clearly the star with the Roll Tide thing going for him."

Cravens, who is committed to USC, had a few fans as well and Green, the nation's No. 1 running back, got asked so many times what school he was attending that he was tempted to just start naming a school, or different schools rather than explaining the numerous programs he was still considering.

"That was funny," Green said. "When people found out I was undecided, it turned into them talking about their favorite school and seeing if they were on my list. I told one person I was going to Notre Dame and he knew I wasn't, so it was pretty clear he knew who I was and follows recruiting. That was crazy. We signed autographs, footballs, we took pictures and met a lot of new people."

The trio started off the event by posing with the Heisman Trophy and this year's Heisman Trophy winner, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

"That was great," Henry said. "It was cool to see the trophy and to see him in person. That was a nice way to start off."

The trio got to meet and talk with 1984 Heisman winner Doug Flutie from Boston College and 1976 Heisman winner Tony Dorsett from Pitt as well as pose for pictures with Holtz.

However, it was two-time winner (1974 and 1975) Archie Griffin who was the biggest hit.

"It was an honor to meet him and spend a little time with him," said Green. "He was one of the guys I really wanted to see. He's the only two-time winner and when I was on one of my visits to Ohio State all I heard about was Archie Griffin. He has so many awards up there its crazy and meeting a legend at my position was great."

"To meet a legend like that was a blessing," said Henry. "As a running back, even if you weren't alive when he was doing his thing, you know about him. That was the highlight."

Even Cravens, a defensive back who plays some running back in high school, said Griffin was his favorite.

"Doug Flutie talked to us the longest and he was great, he was really nice and spent some time with us," Cravens said. "But there's something about meeting Archie Griffin. That was great."

Following all the attention on Monday night, the trio headed off to Sports Illustrated for interviews Tuesday morning and then got to do some shopping in the city before heading over to New Jersey to tour the New York Jets facility.

To their surprise, they met yet another Heisman Trophy winner in the Garden State.

"Seeing the Jets facility was a great experience because I'm a Jets fan," said Henry. "It was a blessing to take the tour and see the facility and meeting Rex Ryan and Tim Tebow was really cool. He (Tebow) was as nice as I expected and he clowned with me about Bolles (in Jacksonville) because we're both from the same area. He was one of my idols growing up because he set a good example for how to be on and off the field."

Green, a huge Giants fan, was also very excited about seeing the Jets facility.

"The tour was great, it was definitely a great experience and with meeting Rex Ryan and Tim Tebow, that was amazing," said Green. "I never brought up my love for the Giants, there was no way I was doing that."

As usual on both Monday night and Tuesday, Green's phone was blowing up with coaches calling from Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee and others. In fact, watching his phone throughout the few days was one of the more fascinating aspects of the tour.

"To me it's kind of normal, but I guess it is a lot," he said. "It's only going to get worse because I might add a couple of schools that I'm interested in that are recruiting me really hard. But I wanted to get away from recruiting for at least a few days and this was a great way to do that."



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