Poona Ford's path appeared carved in stone, each stop along the way carefully mapped out with precision.
The Hilton Head Island High School standout had two stops to make this winter before beginning his collegiate career. First was a visit to the Shrine Bowl, where he impressed in helping South Carolina's all-stars to victory. Up next was a plane ride to Los Angeles, where he will take part in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl at 9 p.m. Sunday.
The next stop after that isn't so certain anymore.
The Louisville commitment pledged his allegiance to coach Charlie Strong and the Cardinals in August. But his future coach appears to be taking a different path of his own, one that leads to Texas and the Longhorns' job.
Louisville was going to be the only official visit Ford took this winter. But if Strong departs, The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette defensive player of the year will open his recruiting again, Seahawks coach B.J. Payne said. South Carolina, Missouri, Arizona and Purdue all could receive visits, as could Texas if Strong made an offer, should he indeed take the job.
For now, however, Ford is concentrating on his final game as a prep football player. The All-American Bowl, which will be played at the L.A. Galaxy's 27,000-seat StubHub Center, will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. He joins a stout defensive line that also features committed players such as Keyon Brown (Georgia), Dewayne Hendrix (Tennessee), Blake McClaine (Florida State) and Darius Slade (Nebraska).
The final such game due to militarywide budget cuts, according to the Marine Corps Times, the Semper Fi All-American Bowl pits some of the best prep football players from the East and West coasts against one another. Joining Ford on the East team is such players as Florida State quarterback commitment J.J. Cosentino and Oregon running back commitment Tony James.
The teams have split the first two all-star games, with the East taking a 17-14 decision in 2013 after the West captured a 17-14 win of its own in 2012.
Once the game concludes, Ford will turn his attention back to the future that once seemed so assured. Whether it remains that way is yet to be seen.
THEY SAID IT
A look at what recruiting analysts think of Poona Ford's impressive week of practices at the Semper Fi All-American Bowl
"Back out at East practice at #semperfibowl not sure I've seen anyone block Keyon Brown or Poona Ford in 2 practices #uga #louisville" -- Scott Kennedy, Scout.com (@ScoutKennedy)
"#Louisville commit and DT Poona Ford is dominating #TheSemperFiBowl" -- Michael Clark, Scout.com (@MClarkScout)
"Poona Ford has brought out the can of whoop !^/ to California. Dominating one on one & defeating dbl teams #thesemperfibowl" -- Jamie Newberg, Scout.com (@JamieNewberg)
"Poona Ford dominated the East practice. Powerful, quick man in the middle" -- Chris Nee, 247sports (@CNee247)
"#Louisville commit Poona Ford looks terrific. Lacks ideal ht but is quick strong & plays w great leverage #thesemperfibowl" -- Jamie Newberg, Scout.com (@JamieNewberg)
2013 Football Defensive Player of the Year: Poona Ford, DL, Hilton Head Island High School (Dec. 24, 2013)
VIDEO: Poona Ford receives Semper Fi All-American Bowl jersey (Oct. 11, 2013)
Hilton Head Island's Poona Ford commits to Louisville (Aug. 6, 2013)