The 18th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl kicks off at noon Saturday on NBC from the Alamodome.
This game has all the hype of a UIL state championship contest, with the added sizzle of each Army Bowl player being the best of the best — according to recruiting website 247sports.com — at their position.
Here are 5 things to watch:
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1. Live player commitments: The young man chooses a cap, family hugs ensue, and a Division I college team is really happy. Planned commits include No. 2 ranked WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (Mater Dei High School, Santa Ana, Calif.); No. 2 LB J.J. Peterson (Colquitt County High School, Moltrie, Ga.); CB Brendan Radley-Hiles (IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.); WR Rondale Moore (Trinity High School, Louisville, Ky.); and OG Chris Murray (Mater Dei).
2. Attacks from above: The East team is led by No. 1 overall player QB Trevor Lawrence (Cartersville High School, Cartersville, Ga.), while the East defense has No. 1 CB Patrick Surtain Jr. (American Heritage School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). The West team counters with No. 1 ranked pro-style QB JT Daniels (Mater Dei) and No. 2 WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (Mater Dei).
3. Battles in the trenches: No. 1 ranked DEs Xavier Thomas (IMG) and Micah Parsons (Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, Pa.); No. 1 DT Taron Vincent (IMG); No. 1 OT Jackson Carman (Fairfield High School, Fairfield, Ohio); No. 1 OG Jamaree Salyer (Pace Academy, Atlanta, Ga.).
4. Award presentations: U.S. Army Player of the Year; National Coach of the Year; Doc Blanchard (East) and Glenn Davis (West) for excellence in community service, education and athletics; Anthony Muñoz Lineman of the Year; American Family Insurance Defensive Player of the Year; Lockheed Martin Defensive Back of the Year; Bowl Trophy to the winning team; Pete Dawkins game MVP Trophy.
5. The soldiers: It’s quite impressive when, during the national anthem, thousands of troops snap to attention and render a salute that would make a drill sergeant proud.