Sam Young prepared a lifetime for this game

FORT LAUDERDALE --- He is no longer Tom Young's "little boy." Sam Young is now a strapping 6-7, 297 pounds and rated the best football player in the state of Florida by Tuesday he was introduced as a member of the East team for the January 6 US Army All-American Game along with St. Thomas Aquinas teammate Daniel Wenger.

(Sam Young profile)

Tom Young was there when the announcement was made at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and it was obvious that dad was so proud of the young man who first earned playing time as an overachiever.

"He's been playing varsity since the seventh grade," said Tom Young. "One of my prouder moments watching Sam was in the eighth grade when he got leveled by a couple of varsity players and he was smaller back then. They didn't think he would get back up and he got back up."

Tom Young gives a lot of the credit of Sam's growth to St. Thomas Aquinas Coach George Smith and Coach Connelly, the offensive line coach.

"It makes the whole family proud, more importantly the whole school," Tom said. "Coach Smith and the Coach Connelly have just been phenomenal transforming a little boy into a man. It's been a great experience. He came here in the ninth grade and it's been great."

For Sam, earning the chance to play in the Army game is an honor and a payoff for the years of hard work he's put into football.

"It's a tremendous honor and means the world to me to be selected to be one of the top players in the country," Young said. "Like I said before, there was a lot of hard work and it's great that it has culminated into this honor."

Tom Young was soaking in the ceremony, already picturing a week in San Antonio in January where the best high school football players in the nation will square off in front of a huge crowd at the Alamo Dome and a national television audience. He is a proud dad who believes his son represents everything the US Army is all about.

"The whole ambience is phenomenal," Tom Young said. "To be nominated and be able to go to San Antonio and nominated for the player of the year is an honor. Both boys [Sam and teammate Daniel Wenger] are great boys and I'd rather have a nice boy than a great football player."

Sam still has a lit of seven schools he is favoring at the moment. Florida, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, and USC are a formidable group of schools looking hard and getting return looks from Young. He lists no order, but has a lot of good things to say about one of the school's closest to him.

The University of Florida will be losing five senior offensive linemen this season and the Gators are scouring the nation for replacements. Sam Young is a prototypical left tackle and he's been to Gainesville a few times since the spring.

"They have a great program," Young said. "I was up there with Marcus (Gilbert) for the Tennessee game and was really impressed. They have an unbelievable atmosphere.

"Coach (Urban) Meyer has been doing a great job … they hit a couple of bumps in the road, but he has been rolling pretty well and I am really impressed with the program."

Young can already appreciate the offensive line coach at Florida. Coach John Hevesy made an impression on Young on his visits.

"Coach Hevesy is a great guy," he said. "I think he is one of the best in the business as far as different concepts he works on. Marcus and I sat down with him and watched some tape and he had some great insight on different techniques and stuff like that.

With the NCAA only allowing five visits, Young has some choices to make. He will visit Notre Dame on November 14, with Wenger when the Irish take on Tennessee. He also knows he will certainly visit Florida.

"I am probably going to visit (Florida) in January or December. I am trying to take most of my visits after the season. I am trying to make it before signing day, but I want to take most of my visits."

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