One of Taylor McNamara's goals when he started to get recruited by numerous programs across the country was to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, so Friday was especially memorable for him because he was presented with his Army game jersey at his high school.
It is a big deal for McNamara, a four-star tight end from San Diego (Calif.) Westview who is still committed to Arizona but looking at other programs.
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"It's a huge honor," McNamara said. "This is one of the goals I set when I first started getting recruited. I knew I would have the chance. I really set that goal and then to make it is unbelievable. I can't really describe the feeling. It's something I dreamed of for a long time.
"It's crazy that it's finally here. You set a lot of goals when you start getting recruited and you start thinking about big things and this is really the first big thing I thought about. It would be really special to make this game and it was something I set. To make it is unbelievable."
McNamara, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound prospect who's rated as the second-best tight end in the 2012 class by Rivals.com, has competed at high levels before whether at the Los Angeles NIKE Camp or The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., this past summer but playing in the Army game will be by far the biggest.
That's one of the main reasons why McNamara is looking forward to it so much.
"That's probably the best part of it is getting that experience," McNamara said. "It's the closest thing you're going to get to college when you get there. I'm really excited for that. I've had some experience like that at The Opening and other places but this is a whole different story so I'm excited to see what it's like."
Before the Army game, though, McNamara has a lot to think about in his recruitment. This weekend he's headed to Notre Dame for an official visit. He's heard outstanding things about the Irish and the four-star said he's anticipating a great weekend in South Bend.
"I'm so excited," he said. "I've heard great things and I really want to see it. Finally the opportunity came to go and visit so I'm really excited to go check it out and see if it is what everyone is telling me it is."
McNamara was supposed to visit Oklahoma the following weekend but that trip has been pushed back to Dec. 16. His other official visit is scheduled for Cal on Dec. 9.
Since he's still committed to Arizona, McNamara is keeping a close eye on the Wildcats' coaching search and once someone is hired the San Diego Westview standout wants to take an unofficial trip there to figure out whether sticking with Arizona is the best move.
"It's just to gauge where they're at as a program," McNamara said. "It's hard to tell right now because they have so many pieces that are going to be missing. I just want to give them another shot and see where they're at."
Other options are available. McNamara has already visited Colorado and Washington and those trips to Notre Dame, Cal and Oklahoma will take place before he makes his final decision.
When that comes is unknown but McNamara said he thinks something will be figured out sometime around his week at the Army game.
"I'm probably going to do it when I'm most comfortable," McNamara said. "I'm really not sure yet. I know it will be sometime in late December or early January."