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MISSOURI CITY, Texas - Jake Matthews has always lived under high expectations. The son of NFL Hall-of-Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews and the nephew of NFL linebacker great Clay Matthews, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Missouri City Elkins prospect has a strong pedigree. While his lineage has certainly helped him in his football career, he earned an honor all his own on Thursday afternoon.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection tour made a stop at Elkins to invite Matthews to be one of only 90 players from across the country to participate in this year's game. The selection process takes into account a player's ability as well as their character. Elkins head coach Robert Crivellari says his star player has both.
"We're very honored and thrilled," Crivellaru said of Matthews' invitation to the game. "We're thrilled to have Jake representing our school, our community and our football team. We're very excited for Jake.
"Jake's an outstanding young man. All four years that I've had the opportunity to coach him, he has always shown great integrity, character and all the qualities that you look for in a student athlete."
Though Matthews has been around football his entire life, he says it is still an honor to be invited to play in a game that has featured several NFL and college greats over the past 10 years. In fact, eight first-round picks in this past spring's NFL Draft were alumni of the game.
"My whole life, watching my dad and relatives play, football has been a big part of our family," said Matthews. "I just love the sport so much. I feel really honored to be a part of this game.
"I've seen the game and I've looked through the brochures and everything they've given me. Just to see all the great players and athletes that have been a part of it is really cool and it's fun to be mentioned with those guys."
However, despite the big honor, the Houston-area star has remained grounded.
"It's really humbling," Matthews said. "I just feel really blessed. It's going to be a great experience and I just feel real proud to be a part of it.
"It's just a real big blessing to be picked to be able to be a part of this game. I just consider it to be a great honor. Out of all the high school football players across the nation, to be considered one of the elite players is really humbling. It's a real proud moment for me."
His head coach was quick to point out that Matthews considers it not only an honor for himself, but for all of his teammates as well.
"Jake has developed into a top offensive lineman not only in the area, but in the nation as well," said Crivellari. "We're very proud of Jake. His teammates are proud of him as well. Jake will be the first to let you know that he is a team player and he shares this with all of his teammates. It is a great honor for the Elkins football team, the community and this school to represent the U.S. Army at the bowl game."
Crivellari also took a moment to make sure that Matthews was aware of his role in the game. Before becoming one of the most dominating blockers in the country, he suited up at quarterback for Elkins. The head coach did not want him to get any ideas as he wore a quarterback's number for photos.
"I want to make sure that Jake knows that, even though the jersey says No. 10, he is not playing quarterback in the game," Crivellari said laughing. "Jake did play quarterback as a freshman for us but, as you see, he has grown considerably."
For his part, Matthews is excited to represent his home state in a game that will be played in San Antonio. He is also one of three Texas A&M commitments that have been selected to participate and he looks forward to getting to play on the same squad as them.
"I think we all want to represent the West team and the state of Texas," he said. "I know I look forward to playing with those guys who will also be my teammates at A&M. It will be pretty cool to get to actually play with guys that I've met at all the unofficial visits and stuff like that."
The 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played at 1 p.m. Eastern on Jan. 9 and aired live on NBC.