Devon Hocutt hadn't played football since early September he missed Ellison's final seven games after injuring his right knee.
And his first hit back came against a quarterback who drew comparisons to Auburn standout and Heisman Trophy winner Cameron Newton.
"It was a good feeling a very good feeling," said the Ellison' defensive standout of his hit on the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Michael Eubank, who's headed to Arizona State in the fall. "I've never hit a quarterback that big, but it was pretty fun hitting him." The 6-foot, 250-pound Hocutt got his chance to play again last week in the inaugural National Underclassmen Combine All World Gridiron Classic. The all-star game played Dec. 31 featured 114 seniors from not only across the country but the world as well. He played defensive tackle and linebacker for Team NUC, which had a last-second field-goal attempt fall short in a 20-17 loss to Team World.
Hocutt's Team NUC featured a wide receiver from Canada (Tevaun Smith), kicker from Australia (Steve Rowell) and quarterback from Croatia (Luka Alaupovic).
"So when they said world game, it was a true world game," he said.
Hocutt wasn't alone in local players participating in all-star games. Belton's David Ash traveled to South Carolina as well, also playing New Year's Eve but in the fifth annual Offense-Defense All-American Bowl at Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Texas-bound quarterback scored the first touchdown of the game, running in an option keeper from 25 yards out.
Ash completed 8 of 16 passes with two interceptions for 100 yards as the West lost 35-21, adding 36 yards on the ground to go with his score.
Hocutt, who wore the same No. 47 he wore at Ellison, said he felt he competed well, especially coming off a season-ending injury.
"I've been working out and going to the gym," he said. "I mean, I wasn't prepared for the game, but it all worked out."
The game was played at The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium in Columbia, S.C. During the week, the teams spent time at the USS Yorktown and attended a red-carpet awards dinner.
The contest was also televised on Fox College Sports, which meant adjusting to commercial breaks.
"We were standing in the middle of the field thinking it's a timeout, but it's not it's a commercial break," Hocutt said.
For not playing in more than three months, Hocutt said he couldn't have asked for a better experience.
Hocutt originally committed to Texas Tech in March, but is no longer listed among the team's commitments on the recruiting websites rivals.com or scout.com. He said he spoke with numerous coaches after the game.
"The last couple months have been pretty shaky," Hocutt said. "I've just been trying to stay focused a lot of things have been going on in my life and I'm just keeping God first ... I'm just taking it on as a high school athlete."