Every winter for the last several years, Steve Elmer has sat down to watch the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on television with his family.
This time around is sure to be different.
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Elmer will be inside the Alamodome in San Antonio on Jan. 5 while his parents and siblings watch from the stands. The four-star offensive tackle and Notre Dame commitment from Midland, Mich., formally accepted an invitation to the game during a ceremony at school Wednesday night.
"I just think it's a great honor to be a part of something like this," Elmer said. "To even be considered to be in the top 100 or so players that get to be in this game. It's kinda like that aspect of The Opening, you get to go out and hang out with all the best players in the country for a few days.
"Now I get to go down to Texas and hang out with all of them for a week. All my friends and family get to see me on TV before I head off to Notre Dame."
Elmer will join fellow Notre Dame commitments Torii Hunter Jr., John Montelus, Doug Randolph, Corey Robinson and Jaylon Smith as Army Bowl participants, before he ships off to campus as an early enrollee.
Looking into the future, Elmer knows once football season ends at Midland High things will go by at warp speed. He is one of six commitments expected to enroll for the second semester.
Once Midland finishes its playoff run, Elmer will train for the Army Bowl and prepare himself to begin college not much more than a week after leaving San Antonio.
"It's gonna be awesome, but it's gonna be a crazy time, that's for sure," Elmer said. "It's going to move really, really fast. I'm prepared for it now, but I can only imagine how fast it's going to seem when I'm actually in the middle of it."
The Irish have held a commitment from Elmer since September of last year, making him their first pledge in the Class of 2013.
While the 6-foot-6, 305-pound prospect declined other major scholarship offers, not once has he wavered on the decision. In fact, having it out of the way gives Elmer a bit more appreciation for accolades like the Army Bowl selection.
"It's awesome that it's not weighing on my mind anymore," Elmer said. "I know that's what I always say when people ask me how it feels to be committed and stuff like that. But it really is huge to not have it on your mind anymore.
"I guess what I'm trying to say is it helps you appreciate these kind of things more when you're thinking about this really as a fun trip and opportunity to play in a game like this."
Elmer will arrive at Notre Dame seeking to set new goals at the college level and having accomplished many already throughout his prep career. One of those is playing in the Army Bowl, a choice that was natural with a father in law enforcement.
"If I was ever gonna play in one of these games, it was gonna be the Army game just because everything about it was cool," Elmer said. "The Under Armour game is on ESPN, but it's nationally televised and all that kind of stuff. Then the whole military aspect of it, I think that's really cool how it's incorporated into that."
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