Ever since cornerback Eli Apple of Voorhees (N.J.) Eastern
realized that he had a future in football, he set two goals for himself. One of
these was to become an Ohio State Buckeye, which he accomplished with
his commitment back in February, and the second was to become an Army
All-American, which became official earlier today when he received his game
"I remember watching the game for the first time in the seventh grade, which was
in 2007, and I remember thinking how cool it would be to get to play in
something like that," said Apple. "I have caught it every year since that and
I was able to watch the game live from the sidelines last year."
When the invite for the Army All-American Bowl came his way, Apple was honored
for a number of reasons.
"It's not anything that I could have planned to happen, but I am just extremely
happy and humbled that it has," said Apple. "This is one of the best honors
someone can have at the high school level. It really means something to be able
to represent not just the Army, but all the brave men and women of our Armed
Forces around the world. That alone makes it incredibly special."
Receiving his jersey earlier today was a very special moment for Apple, who
realized that it would not have been possible if it wasn't for a number of
"The whole thing is unbelievable," said Apple. "To reach this moment is a
symbol of a lot of hard work and sacrifice. I have a lot of people to thank with
everyone at Eastern High School, like head coach Dan Spittal, cornerback coach
Jason Hill and the entire coaching staff, all of my teammates, past and present,
and the school's administration, Mr. Phil Smart, our A.D., Mr. Robert Tull, our
principal, and my guidance counselor, Mrs. Wasiwakowski. I would also like to
thank everyone at Ohio State. From when it all started with Coach Darrell
Hazell, Coach Jim Tressel and Coach Taver Johnson, onto everyone there now with
Coach Greg Gillum,
Coach Mark Pantoni, Coach
Luke Fickell, Coach
Apple obviously did not want to forget the people closest to him.
"One group of people that I can't ever thank enough for everything is my mother
and father, Annie and Tim Apple, along with my entire family especially my
little sister, Jordan Apple," he said.
Now with his game jersey in his possession, Apple can turn his attention to
the actual game in January.
"I just want to continue to grow as a player and learn a lot from the
experience," said Apple. "I have a long way to go in order for me to be able
to be a Buckeye that can contribute. Getting to practice and playing with the
best high school players in the country for a week one last time will help in
that process as I will be headed to Ohio State after the game to start classes
on that Monday, January 7th."
While Apple will soon start his Ohio State career, the Army All-American Bowl
will also give him another opportunity to play with a few future teammates.
"A bunch of us went through the summer together," said Apple. "We went to the
Rivals100 Challenge, The Opening and Gridiron Kings, so there is a strong bond.
We got to come together at the Nebraska game a few weeks ago and it felt like
family. Getting to experience this with the guys is going to be great."
During his senior season Apple has paid close attention to the Buckeyes.
"I am just thankful to be able to call myself a Buckeye," said Apple. "It's an
honor and I just want to be able to earn my way onto the team through hard work
and taking nothing for granted. I'm excited for the success the 2012 Buckeyes
are having and for everyone involved, from the players and coaches, to the
entire Buckeye nation."
Before he makes his way to the Army All-American Bowl and then Columbus, Ohio,
Apple still has some unfinished business in New Jersey.
"My senior year has been good," he said. "We have a good football team and are
currently in position to make the playoffs and make a run at the state title. I
couldn't ask for anything more as there are a lot of guys on this team that are
all in and working hard to get us as far as we can take it. It has been a great
year with a bunch of great guys, some of whom I've been playing with since the
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