WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 16, 2009) -- Two of the nationAca,!a,,cs top-rated high school football players paid a visit to the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery Monday to promote the upcoming 10th annual Army All-American Bowl.

The two are in the running for Army player of the year, an honor that will be announced following the bowl Jan. 9, in San Antonio, Texas -- a game that will be played by 90 high school all-stars, pitting the east against the west.

The number-one player in the country, 17-year-old Seantrel Henderson, a 6Aca,!a,,c8Aca,!A?, 335-pound offensive tackle representing Minnesota; and the best from California, 18-year-old Dillon Baxter, a 5Aca,!a,,c10Aca,!A?, 195-pound running back, visited with senior Army leaders, then capped the day by presenting a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Beckman escorted the high school football stars on their Washington tour and will be accompanying the players to San Antonio. Along with the Soldier of the Year and Drill Sergeant of the Year, he will participate in a player/Soldier skill contest on the field and be on hand to answer the publicAca,!a,,cs questions about the Army in the Army Strong Zone, a 129,000-square-foot interactive display area outside the Alamodome.

While taking in the sights of Washington was a first for both football stars, playing at the Alamodome Jan. 9 will be their last chance to showcase their talents nationwide before starting their college football careers. Baxter has accepted a scholarship to play for the University of Southern California Trojans. Henderson is still undecided, but has scholarship offers from Michigan, Florida, USC, Ohio State, and Notre Dame, among a host of others.

For Baxter, who set the state single-season rushing record, scoring seven touchdowns in his final high school game for Mission Hills, San Diego, getting to be one of only 90 players in the country invited to play in the ArmyAca,!a,,cs classic east versus west game was a long-term goal.

Not only was Baxter selected for the Army West team, heAca,!a,,cs also one of the seven finalists for the Army Player of the Year award which will be presented at an awards dinner following the game. The top player will be awarded the Ken Hall Trophy, named for high school footballAca,!a,,cs all-time leading rusher.

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm definitely excited about this game Aca,!A| IAca,!a,,cve been waiting four years,Aca,!A? Baxter said. Aca,!A"My eighth-grade year, when I first saw the game, I told my mom IAca,!a,,cd be up there, and so IAca,!a,,cve been working these four years and have finally seen it pay off.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm really excited for the game as much as all the other players are,Aca,!A? said Henderson, who has been playing football since third grade. Aca,!A"As far as being in Washington, this is a new experience for me. The Soldiers IAca,!a,,cve met are really genuine and I see a similarity between football and the Army because they both require dedication, working out and hard work.Aca,!A?

BaxterAca,!a,,cs stepfather is an Army veteran of Desert Storm and his grandfather a Navy World War II veteran. HendersonAca,!a,,cs sister and a cousin are in the Army Reserve and have both done tours in Iraq.

While the players have been impressed by the Army, NCO-of-the-Year Beckman was equally impressed by the players.

Aca,!A"These young men are seen by the Army as outstanding leaders,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"These guys are young professionals who chose to work hard at school, to keep their grades up, to build their physical and mental endurance to play football. We see that strength in them Aca,!" itAca,!a,,cs a great reflection on them, their communities and the partnership they have with the Army.Aca,!A?

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16