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Four-star running back Rodney Coe of Edwardsville (Ill.) High School got a big surprise after his team's home victory Friday night.
"After the game my coach informed me that I was picked to go to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl," Coe said. "I didn't even know this was going to happen today. To find out I was one of the players selected is just a great honor."
Coe is among 90 high school football players selected by the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Committee to play in the East-West showdown on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be televised live on NBC.
"Rodney is a talented athlete whose exemplary leadership and teamwork qualities have made him a standout at Edwardsville High School," said Col. Derik Crotts, Director of Strategic Communications, Marketing, and Outreach, U.S. Army Accessions Command. "The strength, dedication, leadership and teamwork skills necessary to succeed on the football field are the same qualities mirrored in Army-strong Soldiers."
With a raucous crowd that included family, friends, coaches and his senior teammates looking on, Coe received his U.S. Army jersey in an emotional ceremony. It wasn't something Coe had expected, but Edwardsville coach Matt Martin isn't surprised to see his star back getting national recognition.
"I think Rodney can be anything he wants to be as a football player," said Martin. "It's great that the Army does this for high school football. When they select you for this game it means you are one of the most talented players in the country. If Rodney keeps working hard he can go as far as he wants to go."
At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Coe is a physical specimen and a punishing runner with 4.5 speed. Listed as the number sixteen athlete in the nation by Rivals.com, Coe occasionally lines up at linebacker for the Edwardsville defense. But he is adamant about which position he prefers to play at the next level. The recruiting picture has started to become clearer for the big back, with a couple of schools emerging from a list of more than 20 scholarship offers.
"I want to play running back when I go to college, so mainly I'm looking at the schools who are recruiting me as a running back," he said. "The schools I'm looking at are Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas State, Illinois, and Tennessee. My favorite has to be between Iowa and Arkansas. We run kind of the same scheme as those two schools. I'm a downhill runner and I think those are two schools that would be a good fit for me."
Ultimately, it could be a National Signing Day decision for Coe. He won't take any visit before the end of his high school season, and he is focusing on winning football games, improving in the classroom and preparing himself to take his college entrance exams.
"Once I take my visits I'll get a better feel for the colleges that I'm looking at," Coe said. "The earliest I want to commit is at the Army game, but if I'm not sure I might wait until signing day. The main things I'm going to be looking at are the coaches, the environment and how well I fit in. Playing time is also one of my big things; I'll look at how many running backs they have."
Coe thanked his family, coaches and teammates upon receiving his U.S. Army jersey. Afterward, he talked about his expectations for the game.
"When I get down there I just want to work hard and show my skills," he said. "I want to prove to myself that I can play with the most talented players. There are a lot of great running backs out there, and I will see how I stack up against them. I'll also get to see how I can do against a defense that has the best players in the country."