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SAN ANTONIO -- The opportunity to play football at a dream school is a privilege not afforded to every prospect.
It is not guaranteed to happen for some of the best players in the country because several members of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl teams in San Antonio said that they had to reach out on their own to get recruiting jump-started.
Sicklerville (N.J.) Timber Creek defensive tackle Greg Webb said he wouldn't have ended up at North Carolina had he not made himself available to the program.
"I didn't have any help with my recruiting when I was a freshman or a sophomore," he said. "I was balling, but I was short and no one wanted to help me and no one wanted to recruit me.
"It made me hungry, and I got my tape out there and got my name out there to show what I could do."
Webb now stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 290 pounds. He is expected to anchor the interior of the defensive line for the East team.
The No. 143-ranked player in the Rivals250 finished his recruiting period with nearly 30 offers -- including one from almost every member of the SEC and others from coast to coast -- but he said that he wanted just three.
"I really went out there to get Boston College, North Carolina and South Carolina," he said. "I had a couple of other offers but I wanted those three, and honestly they were shunning me at first and I didn't really hear back until late.
"I got offers from all three, but it wasn't easy."
Ezekiel Elliott ended his senior season ranked as the top player in the state of Missouri and the No. 77 player in the Rivals100 coming out of St. Louis (Mo.) John Burroughs School.
At 6-foot and nearly 200 pounds, Elliott would figure to be an ideal size for most any college football program in the country.
He had 19 offers and committed to Ohio State in April. As talented as Elliott is, he said he did not get much attention from three schools that he thought he would be a good fit at.
"I reached out to Michigan State, Oregon and Texas," he said. "I hardly heard back from any of them, and I didn't get any offers from them.
"I was a little surprised."
Elliott is competing for time in the backfield of the West team with Thomas Tyner, Altee Tenpenny and Justin Davis. He is listed as an athlete on the official roster and could work into a major role in the slot.
His viewed his versatility as an asset, something he could use to sell himself to the trio of schools he extended himself to.
"I am not sure why Oregon didn't even contact me back," he said. "Texas I understand because they really stick close to home.
"Michigan State contacted me and I liked them since I was younger, but I didn't get an offer. I thought I would be a great fit there, but I guess they didn't see it that way. It was a little disappointing, but it worked out for me."
A similar situation played out for San Antonio (Texas) Christian wide receiver Corey Robinson.
The son of NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson committed to Notre Dame in late April. It was high on his list of schools but not one that he had to reach out to himself.
He said academics played a significant role in his decision to touch base with Michigan, Vanderbilt and Stanford.
"I made a list of the top academic and football schools and started trying to get my name out there," Robinson said. "Those three, along with Notre Dame, were up there.
"Notre Dame was already talking to me, but I wanted to see about the other three as well because they were good on the field and in the classroom."
The 6-foot-4 target enters the Army Bowl as the No. 80-ranked receiver and is competing for playing time with Jake Oliver, Derrick Griffin, Steven Mitchell, Ricky Seals-Jones and John Diarse.
He, like Elliott, did not land the offers he sought.
"Michigan didn't get back to me," he said. "Stanford was interested, but the coach that was recruiting me went to the NFL and then it stopped, and Vanderbilt wanted me to come to their junior day but I had some school stuff that conflicted so that ended that pretty quickly.
"What ended up happening was Notre Dame kept climbing up the list of academics and football so I committed like a month after I started the process with the other schools, so it ended up OK."
Webb nearly shared the same fate as Robinson when North Carolina changing staffs three times since he made first contact.
Butch Davis was dismissed in 2010, and interim coach Everett Withers lasted just one season before Larry Fedora was hired in 2012.
Webb said that each transition forced him to reestablish himself with the new staff, but that the effort was worth it as his situation continued to evolve.
"It was tough. Butch Davis' staff didn't jump on me at first, but they were still in contact," he said. "Then it dipped a little when he got fired, and when Coach Fedora got hired they really started to show me some love."
Webb added that once the program was as committed to him as he was to it, it was time to commit. He also said that having the interest reciprocated made all the effort to get his name out worth it.
"When I started seeing all the love from them, it was a done deal," he said. "But if I didn't go out and get it, I don't think it would have happened."
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