By Tim Hipps, IMCOM Public AffairsJanuary 9, 2012
SAN ANTONIO (Army News Service, Jan. 9, 2012) -- Quarterback Cyler Miles and wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham connected for the longest touchdown in U.S. Army All-American Bowl history and were named co-Most Valuable Players after helping the West to a 24-12 victory over the East on Jan. 7 at the Alamodome.
Miles, a senior at Mullen High School in Denver, completed 7 of 8 passes for 155 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown strike down the left sideline to Green-Beckham, of Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo. That touchdown and extra point by University of Texas-bound kicker Nick Jordan of Coppell (Texas) High School gave the West a 21-6 lead with 1:28 remaining in the second quarter.
"I felt really comfortable, and I give that to the week of practice," said Miles, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder who will attend the University of Washington. "The coaches did a great job of preparing us, installing the plays and the concepts and the personnel. The level of competition was a little higher -- everybody was bigger and faster -- but you get used to that."
"My goal was just to come out here and have fun and compete, and I think I did that," he said. "I had fun with every minute of it this whole week and I went out here and did my thing, so I think I accomplished that. I'm truly blessed to be here and I'm taking advantage of every minute of it because this is crazy special."
One shining moment stuck foremost on Miles' mind.
"Third and about a mile, throwing it up to DGB for that one-hand catch, that was definitely a play to watch there," said Miles, who cherished the entire week of football and festivities provided by the U.S. Army. "I enjoyed all the time around the guys, just getting to know each other. I'm going to see them in the next four years around different schools, so just being around all those guys was great."
"And, definitely, a shout out to the Army: 'Army Strong!' I love what they do and I have the utmost respect for all of them," Miles said. "It's great what they do."
Green-Beckham set the national high school career receiving record with 6,477 yards and finished the 2011 season with 119 catches for 2,234 yards and 24 touchdowns. At 6-6, 220 pounds, Green-Beckham, perhaps the most highly sought recruit in the nation, has narrowed his college prospects to Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, but he announced no decision on Saturday.
On Friday, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection committee named Green-Beckham the 2012 U.S. Army Player of the Year.
"I want to thank my family for all they have done for me," he said. "I want to thank my teammates and all my coaches, and finally I want to thank all of you for giving me the support to help make me the player I am today."
Barry Sanders Jr., son of the NFL's No. 3 all-time rushing leader, scored on a 10-yard touchdown run for the West in the first half and announced that he will attend Stanford in the second half.
"As soon as I got the ball, there was a big hole, and I broke it to the outside," Sanders said. "That seemed to be the right move and I got a score. I would like to go back and watch the play because it happened so fast I don't know exactly what I did. I would love to go back and look at it a few more times."
"We all wanted to come out here and score, and I was actually one of the lucky ones to be able to put the ball in the end zone, so it worked out the way I wanted and I was glad to be a part of it," Sanders said.
Miles, who rushed five times for 10 yards, opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run that capped an eight-play, 44-yard drive by the West. Virginia-bound Kwontie Moore, a linebacker from Norfolk (Va.) Christian High School, was used at running back and scored on a 2-yard run that pulled the East within 7-6 with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter.
Pittsburgh-bound East quarterback Chad Voytik of Cleveland (Tenn.) High School scored the other touchdown on a 9-yard run with 2:29 remaining in the game. He also completed 7 of 13 passes for 60 yards. Jordan completed the scoring with a 26-yard field goal and two more extra points.
The difference in the game was the opportunistic defense of the West, which forced four turnovers.
Texas-bound West defensive back Kendall Sanders of Athens (Texas) High School had two interceptions. UCLA-bound defensive back Ishmael Adams of Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, Calif., added a 29-yard interception return. West defensive lineman Javonte Magee of Fort Sam Houston High in San Antonio scooped up a fumble and returned it 13 yards before a touchdown-saving tackle from behind.
Defensive back Shaq Thompson of Grant High School in Sacramento, Calif., led the West with five solo tackles, including two for a loss of seven yards. Rutgers-bound defensive back Yuri Wright of Don Bosco Preparatory in Ramsey, N.J., led the East with four solos and one assist.
Alabama-bound West running back T.J. Yeldon of Daphne (Ala.) High School gained 16 yards on five carries and caught three passes for 39 yards.
The all-star matchup of high school seniors from across America drew an event-record crowd of 31,011 and was nationally televised live on NBC.
NFL Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe made an impression on Sanders during one of the pre-game festivities, as did Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, the commander of U.S. Army Accessions Command, who spoke briefly with Sanders after the game.
"Shannon said, 'Don't be afraid to be great,'" Sanders recalled. "Don't be afraid of greatness. I think that's something I can take away and use in the future. This is definitely a learning experience. The general told me 'good luck' and that he looks forward to seeing me in the future."
"I was truly humbled by this chance to play with the best and compete against the best," said Sanders, a multi-sport star for Heritage Hall High in Oklahoma City. "This won't be the last time I play with these guys, and I know I'm going to have to work harder just to keep my name out there. I've got baseball season next, so it's time to move onto baseball. I've been playing it longer than football."
Several other players announced during the game where they will attend college next fall: Deon Bush (Miami), Brian Nance (Baylor), Nick Dawson (Louisville), Keith Brown (Louisville), Jordan Payton (California) Elijah Shumate (Notre Dame), Tyriq McCord (Miami), Kevin Seymour (Southern California), Jordan Diggs (South Carolina), Ellis McCarthy (California), Anthony Alford (Southern Mississippi) and Jonathan Bullard (Florida).