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ZIONSVILLE, Ind. - Dan and Mary Lueders know their son has a lot of football in front of him.
But when Blake Lueders, a four-star defensive end prospect, accepted his Army All-American Bowl invitation in front of friends, family and teammates at Zionsville High School on Wednesday, Dan Lueders couldn't help but see it as a sort of culmination.
Being an Army All-American puts an exclamation point on a distinguished prep career. It also happens to be another check mark on goals Lueders stated before high school started.
"After his eighth grade season we sat down," Dan Lueders said. "His mom is pretty good about not only setting goals but you also gotta write them down. So he had academic goals and he had team goals. So I said, 'Individually, football-wise, what do you want your goals to be?'
"He came up with he wanted to start varsity as a freshman, make all-conference as a sophomore, make all-state as a junior and All-American as a senior. For an eighth-grade kid I admired the loftiness of it. I thought it's good to aim high. The fact that looking back on it now he achieved those goals, in that sequence, to me is a great life lesson. It reinforces that if you work hard anything's possible."
Blake Lueders accepted the invitation from Zionsville resident Capt. Douglas Rapp, who spoke of how the football standout had a positive impact on his own son.
Zionsville head coach Larry McWhorter, who will make the trip for the Jan. 9 game in San Antonio in a coaching capacity, noted that Lueders is one of the few players he can remember starting at the varsity level as a freshman.
Since then, Lueders has moved to the defensive side of the ball. He projects as a defensive end in college and received scholarship offers from the likes Notre Dame, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Stanford and Wake Forest, among others.
Lueders committed to Notre Dame in June, effectively ending the recruiting process. He plans to study business.
"I was trying to truly play the process out," Lueders said. "I knew they'd come down to my final decision but when they offered me I didn't think for sure I'd go there. There are so many great schools out there you can't just automatically assume one.
"Everything just felt right; the coaches, the players, tradition, academics, everything. It's the complete package."
Before Lueders worries about class schedules and defensive schemes at Notre Dame, he has the Army Bowl in front of him.
He and his family will head to San Antonio in January for the festivities, but more than anything Lueders is looking forward to the game, where in the midst of his own basketball season, he'll play a football game against other elite prospects.
"I'm just looking forward to going down there and having a great time," Lueders said, "and then competing against some of the best guys in the country."