The U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection tour made its way to East Texas on Friday morning with a stop at Athens High School for a pep rally to honor one of the top players in the Lone Star State.
Kendall Sanders, the No. 4 athlete and No. 64 overall prospect in the country, is the latest player to officially be named as a 2012 U.S. Army All-American and was able to receive the invitation in front of his entire school.
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With alumni dotting the rosters of numerous college and professional teams Sanders is aware of the history of the game. He says he considers himself blessed to now be included among that group.
"I feel really honored that they selected me," Sanders said. "I've been watching it for the past few years and there have been some really great players play in the game. It's just really cool that this year I'll be in it too."
Though Friday's ceremony made things official, the Oklahoma State commit found out about his invitation over the summer. Sanders says he did not believe it at first.
"I was sort of shocked when they first told me," he said. "I wasn't expecting to get picked to play in it. I never thought I would be considered with the top players in the country."
Sanders has a couple of friends who were able to participate in the game last year and he looks forward to talking to them about the shared experience.
"I know some guys who played in it last year," he said. "Trey Metoyer is a good friend of mine. We're really close and he went down there last year. I also know J.W. Walsh from Oklahoma State. I know he played in it last year too. I haven't gotten a chance to talk to them about their experiences there but I will."
Though Sanders says he does not know anybody on the opposing team just yet he will have a chance to go against a good friend in practice all week. Though he was recruited to Oklahoma State as a wide receiver he will be playing cornerback in the game. That allows him to line up against a fellow East Texas star.
"I know some other guys playing in the game," he said. "I know Dominique Wheeler really well. We're real close. I'm sure we'll talk a little bit of trash all week in practice since I get to cover him. It'll be a fun little rivalry."
Though Sanders knows the week will be fun he is even more excited about the chance to represent the title sponsor of the game.
"To know that the game is partnered with the Army is a big deal to me," he said. "It means a lot that we get to play to hopefully do our best to represent the men and women that fight to defend our country. To be honest I am really excited about that. I know there will be a bunch of them there at the game too."
Sanders and the West team take on the East 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.