CEDAR HILL, Texas -- Cedar Hill (Texas) athlete LaQuvionte Gonzalez gets it. He knows he doesn't look like a dedicated athlete at first glance.
Rather than the ridiculous burst of speed or the elusiveness that make him a problem for defenders, many people who watch Gonzalez first notice his bad-boy image. Multiple tattoos, lines cut in his eyebrows and dyed hair, often resembling 1990s hip-hop culture.
"People would think I was a thug off the street, probably someone who''s just a bad kid," said Gonzalez, who was the guest of honor at Wednesday's Under Armour All-America Game jersey presentation as part of the 2013 American Family Insurance Selection Tour.
"If I told them I was an Under Armour All-American, they''d probably be amazed."
The first time Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire saw Gonzalez, he was considered a middle school phenom. He didn''t weigh much, but he ran like he did. Gonzalez had stop-on-a-dime technique that many high school players don't. He ran with high knees, quick feet and, most importantly, intent to score on every play. Gonzalez was, in a word, impressive.
"When he was a middle school kid, he was one of those kids who were so explosive and so elusive. I knew he was going to be special," McGuire said. "Here was a seventh-grader making people miss. He wasn''t the biggest guy in the world, but he didn''t go down easily."
He was this skinny, skinny kid who ran like he was 20 or 30 pounds heavier. He still does.
Fast forward to Wednesday, when McGuire watched the player he saw turn heads as a 13-year-old accept one of his biggest honors of his football career. Gonzalez will join a star-studded cast of athletes who will participate in the Under Armour all-star game that will take place Jan. 4 in St. Petersburg, Fla. The No. 13 prospect in the ESPN 150 is one of 10 Texans expected to compete.