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HALTOM CITY, Texas - Monday morning Haltom High standout Reggie Wilson stood tall as he approached the Army All-American Bowl podium. His coaches, teachers and several of his most ardent supporters looked on as the Rivals100 defensive end was presented his Army All-American Bowl jersey with his trademark smile.
"It really means a lot knowing that I get to go out there and represent Haltom City," Wilson said. "I feel so proud to go out there and represent them and let them know Haltom does have athletes over here and represent my coaches, and teachers, and coaching staff. I really feel great to do that."
Wilson admitted he did not get much sleep the night before and started his day early in preparation of the announcement.
"I woke up around 5:50 a.m. or something like that and it was kind of hard for me to sleep knowing I had this the next day," Wilson said. "It felt really cool. It felt nice."
Wilson was joined in the excitement by everyone around him, and football is only a small part of why so many were there to share the moment.
"I mean the first thing he did was thank God and the second thing he did was thank his teachers," Haltom High School coach Scott Hafley said. "So for Haltom High School to get that kind of publicity and have a great kid like Reggie go to school here, graduate from here, go on to Austin and play in the Army All-American Bowl, it's just a tremendous honor all the way around."
As one of 90 high school athletes selected to play in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Wilson has the distinct honor of joining an alumni list that includes the likes of Vince Young, Adrian Peterson, Derrick Johnson, Mark Sanchez and Tommie Harris.
"It does feel pretty cool that guys like Adrian Peterson and Vince Young all of those guys are having success in the NFL," Wilson said. "It's kind of cool. You're part of something like I'm in the same shoes as those guys for right now. So I feel really honored."
His past, present, and future all factored into his playing in the 10th Anniversary of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and Wilson is looking forward to an opportunity to play in front of those who have supported him along the way and those who will be there in the years to come.
"He basically chose the Army All-American Bowl, so we could come watch him play, and I think to a large extent thought there would be some UT fans and supporters that would be able to see him play and that really got him excited," Hafley said.
"As you're looking back you realize there are only 90 kids in the country who get to play in that game and you realize what a big game it is. Of course for the coaching staff it makes you extremely proud to have somebody like that get selected."
Wilson, who committed to the University of Texas in March, has come a long way from his days on the Ivory Coast in a short time. When he arrived in Haltom City, Texas, football meant soccer.
His first days on the field were filled with confusion, but the coaching staff knew they had something special from the first day.
"In the summer time (before his sophomore year) when he started working in summer workouts you could see how athletic he was," Hafley said. "Then of course the very first game of his sophomore year he was separating himself from the competition.
"I just watched him get better and better. He always played extremely fast off the football, where' he's developed is each week he plays lower and lower to the ground which is what everybody wants there linemen to do. It seems like the lower he gets to the ground the more plays he makes."
Now he is on his way, and for Wilson, who has already had quite a few big moments on and off the field, this is one of the best.
"It's one of the greatest moments," Wilson said. "Knowing I came from somewhere where I didn't even know what football was and getting to be honored as one of the best athletes in the country to play in this All-American Bowl Game. So I really do feel honored as an individual."