With a long history and a strong love for high school football, it’s only fitting for the state of Texas to be the home of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The game is in its 17th year of existence, as the best high school football players from the West take on the best of the best from the East. In last year’s 16th anniversary game, crowds of around 39,121 packed into the Alamodome in San Antonio, and this year the tradition continues to grow. This year’s game will take place on Saturday, January 7 at 12pm CST and will be broadcasted live on NBC across the nation as well as across the world to soldiers deployed overseas in the U.S. Army. With so much excitement and anticipation surrounding the game each year, there’s a lot to look forward to.
Since its start in 2001, the U.S. Army All-American Bowls have given the nation a first look at the future stars of college and NFL football teams. According to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, this game has “consistently featured the nation’s most elite football players, providing a launching pad for college and NFL stars,” including names such as Andrew Luck (2008), Odell Beckham Jr. (2011), Jamaal Charles (2005), Patrick Peterson (2008), Ezekiel Elliott (2013), and hundreds more. Additionally, a total of 330 U.S. Army All-American alums have been selected in the NFL draft, some of which who were also recipients of the Heisman Trophy and NFL MVP honors.
Off the playing field, the tradition continues. Along with the 90 elite players selected from all parts of the country, the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band is made up of the nation’s 125 most talented young musicians. Similar to how the players are selected, the band members are “nominated by their band director in the fall of their junior year, and they submit application materials in the spring of their junior year and are notified of acceptance by NAfME in late July.” The All-American Marching Band has performed during the half time show of each game since 2008. The Band has a lead director who serves a two-year instruction period in which they are responsible for creating a new routine for music and drilling. This year’s lead director is Dr. Kenneth G. Bodiford, who has lead the band from 2016 to present for the show, “Of Thee I Sing.”
Players to Watch
On game day, 90 young high school football stars from all across the country will take the field in one of their first experiences showing the nation their skills. For the West, there are 17 players from California making up the 45-man roster, while another 12 are playing right in front of their home crowd in Texas. On the other side for the East, 10 players are making their way to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl from Georgia, while the majority are from a variety of states spread out across the east coast.
With so many outstanding players taking the field in Saturday’s game, it can be hard to determine who to watch. To narrow down your field of vision, Bleacher Report recently released an article giving us their “Top 5 Players to Watch.” Here’s their Top 5:
1. Jaelan Phillips, Redlands East Valley High School (Redlands, CA)
Position: Defensive Line
Scout.com Ranking: No. 1 defensive end, No. 7 overall
Recruitment Status: Committed to UCLA
Bleacher Report also stated that “on-field accolades aside, he is one of the bowl participants who carry personal ties to Army veterans. It’s a heartfelt dynamic that could serve as extra incentive Saturday.”
2. Devon Hunter, Indian River High School (Chesapeake, VA)
Scout.com Ranking: No. 1 safety, No. 5 overall
Recruitment Status: Uncommitted; contenders include Alabama, Auburn, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech
Bleacher Report also stated, “his abilities in pass coverage create a complete package at safety and should help set the tone for whichever collegiate defense he ultimately joins.”
3. Cam Akers, Clinton High School (Clinton, Mississippi)
Position: Running Back
Scout.com Ranking: No. 2 running back, No. 4 overall
Recruitment Status: Committed to Florida State
Bleacher Report also stated,“Akers led Clinton to a state title while operating at quarterback. Per MaxPreps, he threw for 3,128 yards and 31 scores, adding another 2,105 yards and 34 scores on the ground.”
4. Foster Sarell, Graham Kapowin High School (Graham, WA)
Position: Offensive Line
Scout.com Ranking: No. 1 offensive tackle, No. 2 overall
Recruitment Status: Uncommitted; contenders include Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford, USC, and Washington
Bleacher Report also stated, “He is capable of contributing at guard or tackle in college. Given his physicality and football IQ, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Sarell in a starting lineup and potential challenging for Freshman All-American honors next season.”
5. Najee Harris, Antioch High School (Antioch, CA)
Position: Running Back
Scout.com Ranking: No. 1 running back, No. 1 overall
Recruitment Status: Committed to Alabama
Bleacher Report also stated, “Standing 6’3″ and approximately 220 pounds, Harris has rushed for more than 7,500 rushing yards since his sophomore season. He led Antioch High School to its first sectional title game since the 1970s, earning accolades as a U.S. Army Player of the Year finalist.”
To read the full article highlighting the Top 5 Players to Watch in this year’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl, visit Bleacher Report.
Kickoff will take place this Saturday, January 7, 2017, at 1:00pm ET/12:00 CT in the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. For more information about parking and transportation on game day, visit the Alamodome website.
Looking for more action in the Alamodome? Just recently Oklahoma State University took on the University of Colorado in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29—you can read our pre-game coverage in our Locals’ Guide to the San Antonio Valero Alamo Bowl. And remember, you can always find tons of coverage on local sports right here on at the San Antonio Daily Sun website and on our San Antonio Daily Sun Facebook page.