SAN ANTONIO -- One of the biggest events every year for the U.S. Army in San Antonio and for local Texans is just weeks away -- the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for 2014.
And leading up to this, the San Antonio Rotary Club hosted some special guests to speak about this event Nov. 20 during a luncheon at the Scottish Rite Theatre and how it ties the Fort Sam Houston and San Antonio communities together as well as naming the semi-finalists for the USAAB High School Player of the Year award.
Ken "Sugar Land Express" Hall, a legend in Texas high school football, named the 16 U.S. Army Player of the Year award semi-finalist selectees for the upcoming game Jan. 4, 2014, at the Alamodome. Hall set 17 national football records, several of which still stand more than 50 years later, and is still recognized to this day as the greatest high school football player ever as well as one of the top-five all-time high school athletes. The award, modeled after Hall, has been given since 2001.
"We should have another wonderful year," Hall said. "It's been fun watching them (play) and then watching them grow from there."
Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes, senior enlisted leader for U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis, followed on Hall's words with his explanation for why the All-American Bowl fits so well with the Army and what they represent.
"The association that the Army has with this is perfect because that's what we're all about," Rhodes said. "When you go to college and you … play with the pros, one of the ways you get there is by being one of the best players on your high school team. Everybody on the high school team was one of the best players on their high school team. But high school is about the team -- high school is about having to make up for a guy who won't catch the ball down the middle but scores every time by zipping down the sideline if you get the ball to him."
Rhodes went on to relate this sense of teamwork that makes those selected for the AAB game so similar to the Soldiers who serve their nation.
"The United States Army's a little bit like that in some ways. We don't have a lot of superstars -- that's not what it's about," he said. "It's about everybody working together to be successful."
The All-American Bowl, via a Selection Committee, scours the country for the best of the best out of millions of high school football players, according to the AAB website. The committee evaluates thousands of the nation's top prospects every year. Following that, they officially nominate 400 of the top seniors to be considered for selection to the All American Bowl. Out of those nominees, the players are selected and invited to play in the bowl starting in the fall, with one player selected as the season's Player of the Year.
The semi-finalists for that honor are:
Kyle Allen, quarterback for Desert Mountain, Scottsdale, Ariz.;
K. D. Cannon, wide receiver for Mount Pleasant, Mount Pleasant, Texas;
Nick Chubb, running back for Cedartown, Cedartown, Ga.;
Leonard Fournette, running back for St. Augustine, New Orleans, La.;
Royce Freeman running back for Imperial, Imperial, Calif.;
Will Grier, quarterback for Davidson Bay, Davidson, N.C.;
Da'Shawn Hand, defensive end for Woodbridge, Woodbridge, Va.;
Elijah Hood, running back for Charlotte Catholic, Charlotte, N.C.;
Marshon Lattimore, defensive back for Glenville, Cleveland, Ohio;
Sony Michel, running back for American Heritage, Plantation, Fla.;
Joe Mixon, running back for Freedom, Oakley, Calif.;
Jabrill Peppers, defensive back for Paramus Catholic, Paramus, N.J.;
Trey Quinn, wide receiver for Barbe, Barbe, La.;
Curtis Samuel, defensive back for Erasmus Hall, Brooklyn, N.Y.; and
Deshaun Watson, quarterback for Gainesville, Gainesville, Ga.