The Chicagoland area has been well represented in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl over the years, but the class of players from the region is especially strong for the 2012 game. Glen Ellyn Glenbard West defensive tackle Tommy Schutt leads a trio of Chicagoland prospects who will be playing in the Jan. 7, 2012 event.
"I think Illinois doesn't get quite as much credit as it could as a big football state," Schutt said. "I think myself and those other two guys (Dan Voltz and Ryan Ward) are going to take advantage of our opportunity and represent Illinois as best as we can. Hopefully we can get more guys into that game in the future."
Schutt's U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey ceremony took place shortly before his team's home game this past Saturday.
"It was definitely a great honor, and something I thought was very cool," Schutt said. "I've been watching for a couple years ever since Chris Watt was in it for our school. It's just a great game and a great thing to be a part of, for sure."
Schutt said he will "definitely" have a discussion with Watt, who now plays for Notre Dame, about what to expect out of his Army Bowl experience. One aspect Schutt may be better prepared for than his fellow Army Bowl participants is playing in front of a national television audience. Glenbard West opened its 2011 season on national television, and Schutt knows he can handle the pressure of being on TV.
"Before the game it is something our team talked about, but once you start playing you are doing your thing and it's not too much different," Schutt said. "It's not something you think about a ton, but it's definitely a real cool opportunity and I hope to make the most of it for sure."
At 6-3 and 301 pounds, Schutt will likely line up at defensive tackle in the Army Bowl. Schools across the country recruited him to play the defensive tackle position as well, but he plays primarily at the defensive end spot for Glenbard West. He anticipates getting some work at defensive tackle in the Army Bowl.
"It's something I do here a little bit, and I think moving up to the next level it fits my skill set and body type better playing down in a three-technique as opposed to defensive end, so I'm looking forward to that," Schutt said.
The No. 40-ranked player in the country, Schutt had offers from schools across the country. In August, though, he pledged his services to Penn State and is looking forward to his future as a Nittany Lion.
"I am very excited about them and a pretty solid commit. I don't see anything changing with that," Schutt said. "I took my official visit for the Alabama game. That atmosphere is unbelievable and there is nothing like it. I am looking forward to getting out there next year and hopefully making an impact."
But first, Schutt will be looking to make an impact in San Antonio, and bringing more attention to the talent in his home state of Illinois.