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GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Though he would later call it a dream he'd hoped would come true since grade school, when called to the podium Wednesday to accept his formal invitation to the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Goodyear (Ariz.) Millennium star Marquis Flowers summed up his thoughts in a few short sentences.
"I would like to thank my parents, the coaching staff, my teammates and the fans for this honor of playing in the All-American game," Flowers said to dozens of onlookers in his school's auditorium. "I couldn't do it without y'all. Thank you."
In a less intimidating setting following the ceremony, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Flowers, Arizona's only player selected to the game, attributed the briefness of his remarks to nervousness and opened up about exactly how special he believes the invitation to be.
"It's an honor and a privilege," Flowers said of his inclusion in the game, which will be played Jan. 9 in San Antonio. "Not everybody gets to play in this kind of game and with the talent that's been in this game, I'm excited to go out there and play and showcase my talent against the best in the nation.
"It's a big-time game. Me and my dad always used to watch it together. Some big-time players come out there, Reggie Bush, even Everson Griffen [from nearby Avondale]. Back in elementary school I used to watch it and my dad used to tell me he wanted me to play in the game so I've been working hard and I'm here."
Flowers, who plays running back and safety for Millennium, is ranked as the nation's No. 87 overall prospect, No. 8 safety and No. 1 prospect in Arizona by Rivals.com.
Through the first round of state tournament play, Flowers has 116 carries for 1,161 yards and 15 touchdowns and 13 catches for 162 yards. Defensively he has 56 tackles, two interceptions and four passes defended for the Tigers, who are 8-3 heading into big game against Chaparral Friday.
"It's a big-time game for us," Flowers said. "It's one of the biggest games of my high school career. We're going to go out there and play hard. We're making a run in the playoffs. If we go to [the championship game] then it's a senior year that I'll never forget so I can't complain."
As he goes about trying to help Millennium win a state title, Flowers is also contemplating where he will be playing next season. He's narrowed his list to a final five of Arizona, Arizona State, Notre Dame, UCLA and USC with an official trip to Notre Dame already in the rear view mirror and plans to take similar trips to the other four schools.
"USC is scheduled for Dec. 18 and UofA is scheduled for Dec. 11," Flowers said. "The other two aren't set yet but I'm definitely going to take all five."
Flowers said he will make his announcement during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which will be televised nationally on NBC.