Each January for the past 17 years, the some of the best high school football players in the country gather to do battle in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Since 2003, the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, has been the home site where the stars of the East meet the stars of the West in a clash for the Herman Boone Trophy.
This year’s contest was again held at the Alamodome, as the game set an attendance record with a crowd of 40,568 fans in the stands to cheer the players on. All-American game is a spectacle, loaded with patriotism, excitement, and energy from beginning to end. Symbols of American power and pride litter the stadium and stands. The ceremonial game ball was delivered by 110-year-old World War II army veteran Richard Overton and the Under Secretary of the Army, Patrick J. Murphy, performed the coin toss.
Despite what turned out to be a convincing win by the East, the game was thrilling for everyone involved. As is typical in these types of all-star competitions, the offenses lagged just a beat behind the defenses. However, East quarterback Hunter Johnson, the reigning Mr. Football for the state of Indiana (Brownsburg High School/Brownsburg, IN) ultimately earned the game’s MVP honors. The Clemson commit passed for 91 yards and one thrilling 61-yard touchdown to Alabama commit wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (Robert E. Lee High School, Montgomery, AL).
Another amazing highlight occurred late in the game, as defensive back Bubba Bolden (Bishop Gorman High School, Las Vegas, NV) displayed an incredible amount of athleticism in blocking a field goal late in the fourth quarter. Bolden, who announced during the game his commitment to the University of Southern California, hurdled the center after the snap, kicked the ball away from the holder and recovered the loose ball on the way to a score. The touchdown made the final score: East 27, West 17.
Over the years, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl has served as vehicle to introduce the world to some of the game’s all-time greats. Donning the colors of the East and West squad over the years have been a virtual who’s who of college football greats. Recent stars such as Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, and Derrius Guice all got their starts in the game. Current NFL stars such as Patrick Peterson, Haloti Ngata, DeSean Jackson, Ndamukong Suh, Joe Thomas, and Gerald McCoy all suited up for this contest. Many have taken home the Pete Dawkins Game MVP award. Some of those who have graced the field in this game include:
Vince Young: In 2002, a spindly young quarterback from James Madison High School in Houston lit up the Alamodome and took home the Dawkins Award for the West. He would go on the University of Texas and set tons of records for the Longhorns, including becoming the first player in FBS history to 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards. In 2005, Young had one of the greatest seasons in college football history, earning the Davey O’Brien Award, Maxwell Award, Archie Griffin Award, Manning Award, and was a consensus first team All-American. He led UT to a BCS title in one of the most thrilling contests in history and his #10 was ultimately retired by his alma mater. As a member of the Tennessee Titans, Young would be named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 and Comeback Player of the Year in 2009. In his post-playing career, Young opened a restaurant in Austin, does analysis work for the Longhorn Network, and was hired by the University of Texas to work for its Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.
Andrew Luck: The son of a former college and pro quarterback, Andrew Luck represented Stratford High School in Houston in the 2008 rendition of the game. While at Stanford University, Luck would be a two time runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2010 and 2011. He was named the Orange Bowl MVP in 2011, as well as accumulating multiple trophy cases-worth of honors, such being named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011. He also won the Archie Griffin Award, Walter Camp Award, Maxwell Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and the Academic All-American of the Year in 2011. Luck would be the number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts and has continued his upward trajectory by becoming one of pro football’s best young players.
Brady Quinn: Hailing from Dublin Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio, the strong-armed Brady Quinn took part in the 2002 game as well. He accepted an offer to play for the University of Notre Dame, where he would go on to set 36 separate passing records for the Fighting Irish. Along the way, Quinn would earn the Sammy Baugh Trophy in 2005 and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm and Maxwel Awards in 2006. He was the Cingular All-America Player of the Year and on the AP All-American Second Team. He was taken in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns and would spend the next eight seasons in pro football. In 2011, he founded the nonprofit 3rd and Goal – Veterans Home Aid, which helps retrofit homes to make them handicap accessible for wounded veterans. He is also now a key member of Fox Sports’ college and NFL coverage.
Adrian Peterson: The man known as “AD” (for “All Day”), Adrian Peterson, grew up in Palestine, Texas and played in the 2004 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. While attending the University of Oklahoma, Peterson broke dozens of Sooners rushing records. He was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 2004 along with being named to the AP All-American First Team and was a three-time All-Big 12 first team honoree. Since being taken with the seventh overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2007, Peterson has changed the game in terms of running backs in the NFL. He has been named the All-Pro team on five separate occasions; after a severe knee injury in 2011, Peterson stormed back into the league in 2012 rushing for 2,097 yards and earning NFL MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, and Comeback Player of the Year honors.
This year’s contest introduced us to a host of players to be on the watch for during the coming college football seasons. Wide receiver Jamire Calvin (Cathedral High School, Los Angeles, CA) announced he’d be attending Oregon State next season. Also, running back Eno Benjamin (Wylie High School, Wylie, TX) announced he’d be attending Arizona State, offensive lineman Chuck Filiaga (Aledo High School, Aledo, TX) committed to Michigan, defensive back Darnay Holmes (Calabasas High School, Calabasas, CA) signed with UCLA, and offensive lineman Foster Sarell (Graham-Kapowsin High School, Graham, WA) agreed to attend Stanford.