SAN ANTONIO (Army News Service, Jan. 6, 2012) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno greeted the best high school football players from east and west of the Mississippi who will compete in the Army All-American Bowl beginning Saturday at noon CST.

"This All-American Army Bowl is about work ethic, it's about working hard to achieve your goals, both mentally and physically," Odierno told the players who will declare at the game which university or college they're bound for in the autumn.

"Now the last thing I leave you with is that you all have an opportunity and many of you told me that you've been accepted by this college or that college. Now that means you have an opportunity to improve yourself for later in life. And that opportunity is not only to get to play football, but also to get an education... and you'll be able to move forward and contribute to society in a big way," he said.

"I was recruited to play football. After my second year, I had my fourth surgery and I was never able to get on the football field again. But it gave me the opportunity to get an education, and today I've done pretty good ... I want to wish all of you the best of luck. We in the Army are proud of you. You are the strength of our nation and you represent that strength. We expect you to help our country to continue to move forward, whether it be involved with your community, playing football, or whether it be doing something to help. We depend on you to do that."