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NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. - Another one of Minnesota's best has been recognized as a U.S. Army All-American.
Four-star offensive tackle Jimmy Gjere of New Brighton Irondale was selected Thursday to play in the 10th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl at a ceremony at his high school.
The auditorium was filled with students, family and staff and there were chants of "Jimmy, Jimmy Jimmy," before and after the honor was awarded.
Irondale coach Ben Geisler said the attention was fitting for the Minnesota Golden Gopher commitment.
"It's easy to rally around a kid like Jimmy," Geisler said. "He works hard in the classroom and on the football field. He's a terrific football player and it's great to celebrate with him and for him."
Gjere's tranformation into an All-American has been quite amazing. He started out at tight end as a freshman and then started at guard as a sophomore and a junior. He's now playing left tackle and has found a home.
Not bad for a kid that didn't play football when he was in grade school.
"We don't have too many sophomores starting for us, it takes a pretty special kid, a pretty committed kid, and a pretty talented kid," Geisler said. "Jimmy is all three of those things.
"Jimmy is a smart kid. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be as successful as he is on the football field. He tells all of our O line kind of what to do and calls all the fronts. A lot of that is due to his hard work, but it's also due to his intelligence"
Gjere was excited he got to share the All-America honor with his classmates.
"One thing nice about Irondale High School is all the school sprit we have, and tomorrow when we play, the whole school will be out there, too." he said. "My heart was beating about a million miles an hour."
The 6-foot-7, 275-pounder had offers from Minnesota and Wisconsin early in the recruiting process. He was also getting looked at by Iowa, Ohio State and others, and had he not committed to the Gophers he would have been one of the nation's most highly-coveted prospects.
But Gjere just couldn't see himself leaving home, which is why he committed in early March.
"I'm a home town kid, and everyone here supports the Gophers," Gjere said. "I'm going to feel right at home so it should be great. Walking out there that first game for the opener, I was in awe. It was definitely a one of a kind experience."
So will the opportunity to play in the Army All-American Game.
Gjere will be one of the showcase stars in the in the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 9 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The game kicks off at noon CST and will be broadcast nationally by NBC.