SAN ANTONIO - Being selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is a prestigious accomplishment for any high school football player.
For David Barrent, it has even more meaning.
His cousin Brian Hart is currently serving in Iraq. He repairs helicopters for the Army.
"It was hard for us to let him go over there, but he is serving our country and we're very proud and I am happy I can represent him in this game," said Barrent, who hails from West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley. "We are always looking for ways to do things for him and this is a way I can support him."
The four-star offensive tackle was verbally committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes before switching his pledge to Michigan State in July.
"It was just kind of a change of heart. I realized Michigan State was a better fit for me," explained Barrent, who stands 6-foot-8, 290-pounds. "There are people that want me to stay in-state, but I don't really see any of those people every day. The people that are close to me are supportive. I am 100 percent committed to Michigan State."
Michigan State offensive line coach Dan Roushar, who was responsible for his recruitment from the Spartans' staff, played college football with his father Rich Barrent at Northern Illinois in the early '80s.
"That played a big role in my comfort level with Michigan State," Barrent said. "Michigan State is kind of far away but because of my relationship with Coach Roushar, it's not as big a deal to go that far away."
Barrent is the top ranked prospect from the Hawkeye State for the Class of 2009.
Practicing and playing against other blue-chip recruits this week in San Antonio is something that Barrent is looking forward to.
"This is a big thing. I haven't faced a lot of guys that are really tall or really big or really fast," he said. "It will be interesting to see how I compare. But it will be fun."