There will definitely be a University of Arkansas presence in the 2005 U.S. Army All American Bowl, but just how much probably won't even be known even when it kicks off at noon on Jan. 15th inside the Alamodome.
The all-star football game, which features what it regards as the 78 best high school football players in the country, has issued invitations recently to Allen (Texas) High defensive end Marcus Shavers and Fort Smith Southside wideout Slick Shelley.
Organizers said Monday that Pulaski Oak Grove running back and UA commit Darren McFadden (6-1, 210) also remains a possibility to be named to the game.
Shavers (6-4, 245), who also has been tabbed as one of the 12 finalists for the Ball Park National High School Player of the Year award has already committed to Arkansas while Shelley has the Razorbacks among his options.
"It's huge and I am so honored," Shavers said. "I've put in a lot of hard work and this is part of the reward. But I am also hoping another reward will be winning a state championship."
Allen (8-2) will continue that quest on Thursday night when it faces Arlington Lamar in a first-round state playoff game at Texas Stadium, the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.
"I think we have played some really good football lately and we are all on the same page and striving toward that one goal," Shavers said. "I haven't had a lot of people running my way this year, but I've been trying to chase them down on the other side of the field."
Shelley (6-3, 180) is considered one of the nation's best wide receivers and his selection for the game helped take away some of the pain of a 26-9 loss to rival Fort Smith Northside on Friday that sent the Grizzlies to the playoffs and ended the season for the Rebels (3-6-1).
"This season was really a learning experience for me and I am disappointed in how it ended," Shelley said. "But being named to the game and being considered one of the best in the nation is a honor that I am very proud of. I'll get the chance to go up against some of the best there is. It's a once in a lifetime thing."
Shelley, who had 39 touchdowns catches and hauled in nearly 200 passes in his high school career, is now in the process of setting up visits to Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Tulsa.
"I am going to take them all in December and January and just make the best decision I can," Shelley said. "I'm looking forward to visiting with Arkansas and all the rest of them. I will probably take my last one to Arkansas."
The Razorbacks would have had another player involved in the game if not for the injury to Mesquite wideout Reggie Fish, the Texas prep playmaker , who committed to Arkansas before the season started and who will switch from quarterback to wideout in college.
Fish (5-7, 150), who was injured in the third game of his senior season, was named the offensive MVP and Shavers the defensive MVP of last year's national junior combine that runs in conjunction with the all-star game.
He will enroll in January and possibly be healthy enough to go through spring practice with the Razorbacks.
This year's combine, featuring the nation's top juniors, will be held on Jan. 14-16.
o o o
The Razorback basketball program will officially add another couple of players on Wednesday, the opening day of the week-long early signing period.
Both 6-1, 180-pound point guard Sean McCurdy of St. Anthony's in Jersey City, N.J., and 6-9, 235-pound power forward Cyrus McGowan of Meridian, Miss., said Sunday that they plan to sign early in the morning on Wednesday.
While McCurdy's season does not start until December, McGowan will open his tonight as Meridian travels to Livingston, Ala.
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