FORT WALTON BEACH — Devin Borders had never been at this type of event before.
Well, that’s not entirely correct, he amended himself as he stood on a stage at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.
He attended the All Sports Association Trophy Awards Dinner when Alabama football coach Nick Saban spoke three years ago and Borders was a talented player at Choctaw.
He had just never been on Saban’s side of it.
Borders is now a kick-blocking specialist at Eastern Kentucky. He is your typical college student, gushing over cruddy cafeteria food, known among teammates as the “FIFA God.”
He is not used to speaking in front of 1,400 people. And he is certainly not accustomed to being honored next to Pete Rose, arguably the greatest hitter in the history of baseball, and Ole Miss linebacker Deterrian Shackelford, who beat out some kid from Oregon named Marcus Mariota for the 2014 Wuerffel Trophy.
An Eastern Kentucky Colonel is not usually mentioned in the same sentence as a Heisman Trophy winner.
So forgive Borders, the collegiate award winner, if he marveled a bit at the swanky scene presented in front of him — no, for him — at the All Sports Association Annual Trophy Awards Dinner.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “Amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room with so many people.”
Trey LaNasa and Jackie Orcutt sat nearby, and the two were in equal awe of the well-dressed mass crawling before them.
LaNasa’s past few months have been “a whirlwind.”
ESPN made its way to Fort Walton Beach in November to document his High School Heisman campaign.
Shortly after, he was flown to New York City as one of six finalists across the country.
“It was off the charts,” he said. “Out of this world.”
It was, in his words, “just a false peak.”
He returned home to Fort Walton Beach and took a call from the All Sports Association. It informed him that the cavalcade of honors was not yet finished.
He had won the male scholastic award.
On Friday, he was asked to sign autographs.
“It’s wild,” he said. “I’d say they don’t really need it, it’s not worth much, but I’m not going to argue with them.
“I’m definitely honored to receive this award.”
Classmate Jackie Orcutt took the female award.
Maybe, somebody suggested, being honored in front of 1,400 people gave her bragging rights over little brother Dan, a precocious swimmer who earned the Daily News Swimmer of the Year award.
She wasn’t entirely prepared to agree. She also wasn’t ready to dismiss it, either.
“It’s inspiring to be grouped with so many amazing people,” she said. “It made me honored but it made me want to do more, to be better.
“To be with such incredible people is such an awesome experience. I think (Dan) still has me. He’s going to be the Olympian, but I’m holding my own against him.”
The All Sports Association put on a marvel of a banquet.
Pete Rose spoke.
Autographs were signed and pictures taken.
Thousands of dollars were hauled in through the sale of memorabilia.
Eighty-thousand dollars were donated to the Eleanor Johnson Youth Center, Okaloosa County Special Olympics and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast.
“This has so much depth,” LaNasa said. “Without (the All Sports Association), this community would be a shell of itself.”
“Just flipping through the booklet, I kind of leaned over to Trey and said ‘These people are amazing,’ ” Orcutt said. “This is the biggest thing I’ve done yet. I probably won’t be able to wrap my head around it until I leave.”