Whitewright, Texas is far from the bright lights of the big city, but that has not kept the spotlight off quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.
Standing 6-foot-5 and tipping the scales at 230 pounds, Swoopes quickly found himself in interview sessions with reporters from across the country and in the presence of coaches from the nation's top programs.
Ohio State, Alabama, LSU, Stanford, Notre Dame all extended offers, and pursued the standout signal caller in addition to the Texas Longhorns, to whom he is committed. He has reached for and achieved some of the highest goals a high school player can achieve, and is preparing for what appears to be a bright future.
On Thursday, Swoopes welcomed one of the most prestigious honors a high school player can achieve, as he was presented as a 2013 U.S. Army All-American. It is a moment he has been waiting for since he first heard it was a possibility.
"I was excited about it, because when I was in the eighth grade (2009) I played in their first youth All-American game, and I got to see a little bit of what the high school kids did," Swoopes said. "When I was in eighth grade up until now I wanted to be a part of it and I like that I'm going to be a part of it now."
The experience in the eighth grade was a special one and opened his' eyes to new possibilities. Now, he looks forward to getting back to San Antonio and taking the field in January for the bigger stage and the opportunity to show how far he has progressed in just a few short years.
Army Bowl Week will bring many new experiences, and Swoopes is looking forward to several aspects of the trip.
"Meeting the top recruits in the nation and getting some extra work in before I go to college just because I know there will be some good coaches there who will show me some good things about my footwork and mechanics," Swoopes said. "I'm just looking forward to that and playing with some of my future teammates and enjoying the experience."
As a U.S. Army All-American, Swoopes joins an elite group of quarterbacks that includes Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman, Mark Sanchez and Vince Young. It is an honor Swoopes does not take lightly, but it also helps him see how much work there is ahead.
"It makes me feel good because those guys are really good," Swoopes said. "I don't think I have arrived yet because I haven't done anything in college yet. I still have a lot to work for, so I try not to let it go to my head because I know I haven't done anything yet."
Swoopes continues to work and push himself daily, and he continues to adjust to life in a spotlight. It has not been easy, but it has helped make him better.
"It's tough because I'm used to keeping quiet and keeping to myself," Swoopes said. "When you have the interviews and you meet new people you can't be like that. You have to be outspoken. I've been working on that and I think I've done a pretty good job of being more outspoken and not as to myself as I used to be."
Over the summer months, Swoopes seized the opportunity to attend many of the nation's elite camps and combines, including the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. Trips took him all over the country to show off and refine his abilities. Some of those experiences went well, while others could have gone better. However, Swoopes made sure to learn something from each one.
"I think it was good for me because I went places and performed well like I wanted to and at other places I didn't perform well at all," Swoopes said. "So I think both the praise and the criticism were good for me because I know it's going to be like that for me for the rest of my career and I might as well get used to it."
On this day, it is all praise for Swoopes. Those closest to him gathered to show their appreciation and support as he was presented as one of the nation's best, a U.S. Army All-American.
"I've always wanted to play in an all-American game; I've just wanted to be around the top recruits in the nation," Swoopes said. "So for it to be a reality makes me feel like I've really done something."
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