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Never in his wildest dreams did Tampa (Fla.) Plant quarterback Phillip Ely dream that he would be an Army All-American. That realization became official on Tuesday when the Alabama commitment was officially presented with his jersey.
The 6-foot-1, 186 pound four-star quarterback has broken plenty of records during his career with the Panthers, but Tuesday's announcement was one of his highest honors.
"I think every kid dreams about being an All-American, so this is an unbelievable day for me," explained Ely. "It really shows that all that hard work has paid off. I'm very humbled."
Being named as one of the nation's top players is special enough, but for Ely it even holds a more special meaning playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
"I have a little experience with this game because I saw former teammates Orson Charles and Aaron Murray go through the same thing," replied Ely. "I mean it just doesn't get any better than this as a high school player in my opinion. Not only that, you get a chance to compete against some of the best talent around the country, so I'm very excited about this honor and the experience that goes along with it."
For three years, Plant head coach Robert Weiner has watched the maturation of Ely as a player and student. According to Coach Weiner, he couldn't imagine a more deserving player to be named a U.S. Army All-American than Ely because of his unselfishness and leadership.
"Phillip is just a tremendous kid. He's probably the least self-promoting kid you will find," explained Coach Weiner. "All Phillip has every wanted to do is be a Plant Panther, so the other accomplishments never really crossed his mind. But that pretty much fits his personality."
As far as the future for Phillip Ely, it's certainly bright when you consider he will be playing for the defending National Champions next year. Although the Crimson Tide lost a close battle to LSU last weekend, he is excited about the future for Alabama football.
"Ah man, that was a tough one to swallow. I don't even talk about the LSU game that much because it hurt," replied Ely. "We moved the ball well, We just couldn't finish it off in the end. However, we still have a good chance to get back in the race. We just have to take care of business this weekend. This is a team loaded with elite talent so I know they will bounce back."
As far as suiting up for the Crimson Tide, Ely can't wait for that moment and plans on taking an official visit to Alabama shortly after Plant's season concludes.
"Hopefully that official visit won't take place until December since we start the playoffs soon and the state title game would be played around that time," explained Ely. "However, a week after the season is over I plan on taking another visit. Alabama is just the perfect fit for me in the multiple sets they like to run their offense out of. It's pretty similar to the offense we have at Plant, so the adjustment shouldn't be a big one for me. I'm just ready to get there. I will be enrolling early in January to get a feel for the offensive game plan. It's a challenge, but that's the way I like it."