Waco (Texas) La Vega offensive tackle Michael Starts is not only one of the top recruits in the Lone Star State but also the entire country. On Tuesday the 6-foot-4, 282-pound senior as awarded with one of the highest honors a prospect can receive.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection tour made its way to La Vega High School for an assembly in the gymnasium where Starts was officially named to the roster of the 2012 game.
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With only 90 of the top prospects in the nation invited to participate in the game, Starts knows the significance of being selected to do so.
"It means a lot," Starts said. "I know it's the top game that any recruit can ever play in. I'm just really thankful that I get to play in it.
"I know there are a lot of other guys who want to play in it that won't get the chance. It's an honor for me to have that opportunity when the other guys don't. There are a lot of people who wished they had the chance so I am going to go out and do my best to show that I earned it."
Though Tuesday's ceremony marked the official announcement that Starts will be playing in the game, he was actually invited over the summer. When the invitation initially came it caught him off guard.
"I really couldn't believe it," he said. "I was very excited and happy. I think they saw me on film and then saw me again at a camp and they liked the type of player I am. I'm just ready to play in it."
Unlike most of the other prospects in the game, Starts has not had a chance to watch past versions of the game that have featured players such as Adrian Peterson and Vince Young. However, the Texas Tech commit is ready to add his name to the legacy of the game.
"I got to watch some of it a few years ago when (current Baylor and former Waco Midway safety) Ahmad Dixon was in it," he said, "but I really haven't had a chance to see any of the other ones. I know there are some famous guys that have been in it and I want to live up to that too. I'm really looking forward to it."
Starts is committed to Texas Tech as a defensive end prospect but he will be playing on the other side of the ball in January's game.
"I'm playing on the offensive line in the Army game," he said. "That's what they invited me to play. I've actually been mostly playing there this year during the season. My coach puts me on defense in the red zone for our jumbo package but the rest of the time I've just been playing offense.
"I like defense but I'm still excited about getting a chance to block some of the best d-linemen in the country. It'll be a nice little test."
Starts and the West team take on the East in the 12th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be nationally televised on NBC.