It’s not a stretch to say that Naseir Upshur has overcome significant odds stacked against him en route to being named an Under Armour All-American. It’s also not a stretch to say that he’s humbled and genuinely stunned that it ever happened to him in the first place.
Upshur is a 233-pound tight end from Imhotep Charter in Philadelphia, where he celebrated on the latest stop of the Under Armour Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance. He’s equal parts blazing and bruising, with good hands and a work ethic that ensures he’s just as focused on cleaning out an opposing lineman with a block as he is streaking down the field for a Gronkowski-esque touchdown. Upshur is very Philadelphia. He comes from the inner city. He breathes it, he knows it, and he feels very lucky that football has been his personal outlet to better things ahead.
“There’s a lot of killings and a lot of shootings that happen where I’m from,” Upshur told USA TODAY High School Sports. “Me having this opportunity is just crazy. I would never think that I would be the kid playing in the Under Armour All-American Game. I’ve just been flabbergasted by the whole thing.
“I was thinking this can’t be true. I was just watching the game two years ago and telling my parents I wanted to play in this game. Today, it was like ‘Wow, this is really happening.’”
It’s really happening because Upshur has put in a tremendous amount of work. The Florida State-commit works out at least twice per day; in the morning before school and at practice in the afternoon. He duplicates or increases those efforts in the offseason. He lives for football because, “that’s what I do.”
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Upshur is doing a little recruiting for Florida State, trying to sell the likes of Dontavious Jackson and a few unspecified others on the merits of playing in Tallahassee along with fellow Seminoles commit Levonta Taylor. Mostly, he’s focused on finishing his senior season strong — he says to plan on 1,000 yards, 15-20 touchdowns and at least 100 pancake blocks — and then enjoying what is sure to be a unique way to wrap up a remarkably ascendant high school career.
“I don’t think a lot of people get this opportunity,” Upshur said. “No matter where (opposing players are) from, I’m going to go out and dominate regardless.”