Joel Caleb has been in the spotlight for months. Long regarded as one of the best prospects in Virginia, if not the best, the Clover Hill athlete has a massive offer list and has seen his name in the headlines for just about his entire high school career. Needless to say, it takes a lot for him to get excited.
The 6-foot-2, 201-pound uncommitted athlete has taken a low-key approach to the recruiting process, opting to keep things pretty much to himself. He doesn't seek out interviews and self-promotion isn't his style. Caleb is the kind of guy that wants to let his play speak for itself.
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When the invitation came to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, however, Caleb was thrilled.
"It's really an honor," Caleb said this week as he received his U.S. Army All American Bowl jersey at his school during a presentation in front of teammates, friends and classmates. "I'm just blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of something like this. It's really a good situation to be in."
In spite of all his accolades and the praise he has received from scouts, coaches and even opponents, Caleb said the invitation came as a surprise.
"I really didn't know that I was going to be nominated for the game. When it came I was real excited. Just to get a chance to play in this game means a lot."
Caleb said he started watching the Army Bowl two or three years ago so to get a chance to actually put on the jersey and play in it means even more. He knew a couple of the past participants and when they spoke about it, needless to say, it gave him something to shoot for.
While seeing your name in the headlines and living with a public image day to day is one thing, playing on national television is an entirely different animal.
"I think I'll be a little nervous," Caleb laughed. "But I'm just going to go out there and play football. I'm going to do what I need to do. It shouldn't be anything different from what I usually do.
"I'm going in with a competitive mindset. I think that's the mindset you have to have to be on the football field. Otherwise you'll get hurt. I want to have fun as well. I'm just looking forward to it."
Though listed as an athlete, Caleb is behind center as Clover Hill's quarterback at the high school level. He has led his team to a 6-2 record on the season with just a couple of games remaining. Unfortunately, those losses came in district play and Caleb said it's unlikely that they'll be able to secure a playoff spot.
"It's still going good," he said. "I'm just looking forward to finishing up strong. I feel like I've performed well this year throwing the ball, running the ball and leading our team."
On the other side of the ball Caleb lines up at free safety. In college, however, Caleb expects to play wide receiver.
He describes himself as "physical, strong, dependable, consistent and just a playmaker," all qualities that help make him one of the state's top prospects. Some high school quarterbacks find it difficult to hand the reins over to another player when they reach the college level. Others simply struggle to find their niche when they haven't had to develop exclusively at one position. Caleb doesn't see either of those as obstacles to his growth in college.
"I consider myself to be an athlete," he said. "I came in as a receiver my freshman year and a little bit my sophomore year. I'm familiar with the position. I know I have a lot to learn but I'm looking forward to getting coached."
As for the recruiting process, Caleb has played things close to the vest. He maintains that he wants to take all five of his official visits but doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get them in. Caleb said he will have taken all five by February.
"I know I'm going to see West Virginia and probably Virginia Tech, too," he noted. "I'm not sure what the last three will be. I was thinking about heading to Penn State this month as well but not sure if I can make it because of some scheduling issues. I'm trying to narrow them down. I'm still pretty open. I'm still looking at about ten schools. I'm just trying to keep up with college football this year and see what happens with these schools."