On Tuesday afternoon, linebacker Kwontie Moore of Norfolk (Va.) Norfolk Christian accepted his U.S. Army All-American Bowl game jersey, and with it came the realization that he is considered one of the top players in the nation. Now Moore can focus on finishing up his senior season, and also leading the East team to victory on Jan. 7 in San Antonio, Texas.
"I was excited," said Moore, when asked how he felt about being invited to the game. "I was honored by it."
While Moore acknowledged that he did not grow up watching the game, he took special interest in it last year.
"I watched it last year because I was watching Curtis Grant," said Moore, referring to the current Ohio State linebacker who also played his high school football in Virginia.
The chance to play against and with the best players in the country at the Army All-American Bowl is one of the more exciting factors for Moore.
"It's exciting because I know the competition will be good," said Moore. "It should be fun. During the summer I went to a lot of camps and it was fun playing with the best players in the country. I want to be known as one of them as well."
Some of these summer camp experiences also helped Moore get better acquainted with a few players who will also be his teammates at the Army All-American Bowl.
"I know a lot of them," said Moore. "I know Stefon Diggs and Eli Harold. I met a lot of people at The Opening in Oregon and then Gridiron Kings down in Florida."
Moore will make the trip to Texas with a few goals in mind.
"I'm hoping to get playing time, to play well and help the East win," said Moore. "I just want to play hard every play. My goal is to keep going and not take any plays off. I also want to see if I can step up to this competition and I think I should be able to. I hope to learn a lot of new things."
Not surprisingly, Moore's family is also excited about his opportunity.
"They're excited and they're glad I was able to be chosen to play in it," said Moore. "They just want me to have fun. They were really excited when I told them about it."
Off the field, Moore decided to end his recruiting process early with a commitment to in-state Virginia.
"If I really wanted more publicity then I wouldn't have committed that early, but I just wanted to get away from that," said Moore. "Since then a lot of players have said that they also committed because I committed, so that feels good. I'm just having fun my senior year, just being able to play one more year for my high school."
Watching Virginia succeed on the field this fall has been exciting for Moore.
"I've been to a lot of the games and I'm excited about it," said Moore, who will take his official visit in January. "I was watching the Virginia/Maryland game, and I see a lot of good things happening. It's exciting."
With recruiting behind him, Moore has been able to focus on his senior season.
"It's going well," said Moore. "As a team we are going to the playoffs and we won our conference championship. Everything is going well. I did mess up my ankle during the second game, so I had to get myself back up, but I'm good now. Everyone is doing well now and stepping up to the competition."
Even with the injury, Moore has noticed a marked improvement in his game compared to last season.
"My knowledge of the game has improved," said Moore. "Because of all of the 7-on-7 stuff I did, I'm better at going into coverage. I'm better at form tackling and I feel like I can throw my body around better. I position myself to make better hits, so I just know where to be. I'm better at it."
His coach, Heath Gibbs, agrees.
"Kwontie is a very physical and competitive player and no matter what position he's playing for us, running back, fullback, tight end or linebacker, he wants to be the best," he said. "Whether it's making a big catch, lead blocking, running or making a huge hit, he does it 100-percent. He always wants to be around the ball and he has improved so much this year."
Gibbs also talked about Moore's character off the field.
"He's a great kid, he's really well liked by teachers, peers, teammates and everyone," he said. "He's always smiling, always upbeat and he is one of our team captains and leads by example. He works as hard as anyone and that shows."
For a football program that has been around for seven years, Moore's selection to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is a big deal.
"It's a great opportunity for us," said Gibbs. "We have four players this year going D-I and a fifth I think will also end up there so we've come a long way and players like Kwontie will pave the way for other younger guys. And the exposure of having Kwontie in this game is great."
Moore and the East team take on the West in the 12th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be nationally televised on NBC.